Remote Work in times of a global health crisis

Working from home – blessing or curse? Image by Austin Distel on Unsplash

As much as the current situation scares people, it can also change the way we work. Covid-19 could have a permanent impact on how companies operate, or people work. It´s a blessing in disguise I´d say. As much as I vote for new work, I also see the problems that arise with it not being a choice for most but them being forced into working from home.

Speaking to several IT savvy friends just recently they also pointed out the difficulties for some companies who are not prepared for it. Systems will crack they say, it will be a problem especially for companies whose employees are usually safeguarded by corporate networks and have to connect over virtual private networks now. This might cause a real problem for the IT infrastructure of most companies. Furthermore, internet providers might not be able to supply the bandwidth needed. Peak traffic will increase and with schools being suspended as well, there will be even more internet users during the day. Time will tell if we (or the internet providers) are prepared for this.

One good thing about the whole situation – besides that people really start to care about each other and support each other – is the opportunity for companies and employees alike to build a remote work culture or at least some more flexibility. And companies like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Trello and a few more have already reacted to support remote work and offer some of their services for free for the time being.

I’ve been working remotely for a few years now and I do love the flexibility and productivity that comes with it. And to be honest, the most important thing is that the work gets done – within an office or at your desk somewhere else. The key to be successful with location independent work is to be organized, structured and to have your communication right. Speak to your co-workers and to your boss on a regular basis, like you would do in the office. Keep up the casual conversations and the chat in the coffee corner. But most importantly: Keep spirits up and get your shit done! Don’t see remote work as a ticket for being sluggish because nobody is watching.

I will share some tips and tools shortly that helped me a lot to structure my remote work life. Stay tuned.

Remote Work – trending in Germany as well

Spending the weekend at Machu Picchu – the beauty of remote work.

As I started this new project – working remotely from South America – friends and clients alike were, to say at least, irritated. For my European clients, the concept of working for them, but not being in their office frequently was an alien thought.

But is it that different?

People’s perception is changing – also in Germany. In the end, it is the result that counts, not how you achieve it. Great work can be done from anywhere. As long as you have a stable internet connection there is no hindrance for working remotely. At least this is the experience I’ve made and the feedback I get from my clients.

Recent surveys show that the concept of remote work is getting greater support by the minute in Germany. The motivations for the so-called new work model are multifaceted: Be it the dream to explore the world, following your partner who works abroad or having to take care of your loved ones at home without losing your job. “New work” means more flexibility and freedom for a workforce that puts a greater emphasize on work-life-balance than previous generations.

A recent survey of flexjobs.com highlighted personal freedom and an increase in the health of people who did work remotely. Companies like SAP, Deutsche Bahn or several German startups realized the benefits it has for their business as well. In a very spirited job market, companies that offer flexible working structures are much more competitive than companies with a conservative structure, not to speak about the boost in productivity, reduced turnover, and lesser organizational costs. A recent survey by “Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft (IW)”, support these statements.   

Embrace remote work

In the US remote work is almost common nowadays and most of my fellow remotes do have full-time jobs with US companies. It is a growing trend, 43% of US employers said they plan to allow their employees to have more remote working opportunities over the next year. Only 9% said they plan to offer less.

One explanation for this is highlighted in recent research of Harvard Business School. Prithwiraj Choudhury, an associate professor in the Technology and Operations Management Unit at Harvard Business School, and fellow researchers who compared the outcomes of flexible work arrangements at the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Read the full story here.

Let’s talk about Germany and some companies that embraced remote work and its benefits again. As an example, for Mirco Hellekes, HR-Manager at Giant Swarm GmbH offering remote work is a huge competitive advantage. “We can hire the best talents from across Europe”, he says. For him, this kind of flexible work is the future and they have practiced it for five years already. He continues “Remote work for us means that all our employees create the work environment that makes them happy and successful”.

Speaking from my own experience, I can live and work from places I might have never been able to see. I can explore the world while working full-time and so far, my clients are happy with the results. To me, this adds true value to my life and even more so to the work I’m doing for my clients. I enjoy getting up in the mornings and starting my workday because I know that I’m able to see Machu Picchu at the weekend, go for a lunch break in a traditional restaurant in Chile or go out in the evenings to improve my Salsa skills in Colombia.