Here’s How Remote Working Can Boost Productivity and Well-being

Is the open-plan office really the best environment for getting work done? Writer Susan Cain doesn’t think so – at least, not for introverts, who make up 30-50% of the workforce.

Cain is the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts, in which she illustrates how the workplace has been set up against the interests of up to half the population. She’s also given a fascinating TED talk on the subject.

Remote working can be a blessing for introverted workers, who thrive on solitude. But what about the rest of us?


A time and a place for quiet

Introverts are not an anti-social bunch, but they do enjoy social interaction in a different way to extroverts. Too much, for too long, and the batteries need to be recharged.

If you’re an introverted writer, you also need long stretches of alone time in order to buckle down with work. The environment in which these tasks are completed makes a massive difference in terms of both productivity and quality.

Open-plan offices have been described as soul-destroying for the less outgoing among us. As Cain writes in Quiet:

…introverts feel their most alive, their most engaged, and their deepest sense of equilibrium when they are in environments that are less stimulating.

So productivity declines when working in an open-plan office. But with remote working you are guaranteed your own space. Working from home allows introverts to fully concentrate on the task at hand and really get the creative juices flowing.

Energy is directed towards completing a task to the best of one’s ability, instead of being drained by loud, busy and distracting surroundings.

Being able to work from home also offers a number of mental health benefits. And this holds true whatever your personality type is.


Happy employees are better employees

Remote working helps to avoid the many pitfalls of the open-plan office. One study found that these offices create negative relationships among coworkers. Distrust and lack of cooperation is common.

Other research tells us that healthy work relationships are strongly linked to the well-being and productivity of employees. If open-plan offices are making people less happy and less creative, then it’s vital that we look to alternative ways of working.


Building a sense of community

It’s no longer necessary to work in an office in order to build a sense of camaraderie with your coworkers. In fact, sites such as Reddit show that an online community can be built among strangers who will never see each other face to face.

A useful social networking service is Yammer. For example, it can function as a virtual newsroom, where articles are pitched and discussions take place. Just like in an actual newsroom, co-workers can generate a strong sense of morale.

With Facebook, Skype, Slack and Basecamp it’s never been easier to work remotely, whilst maintaining the right level of communication and collaboration.


Maintaining a work-life balance

Another benefit of remote working is the lack of travel required. People in the UK are commuting more than ever, and the mental health effects of this are quite worrying. Long journeys to the office contribute to stress, anxiety and life dissatisfaction. They also make it increasingly difficult to maintain a work-life balance.

Remote working, on the other hand, makes it much easier to allocate time for other priorities, plans and passions in life. A work-life balance does wonders for people’s well-being, and this in turn creates a healthier and more productive work culture.

Remote working roles are not all that common on job websites, but given the rise of social networking platforms and digital jobs, they are becoming a viable option for many people.

The nature of work is evolving. We could soon be ditching the open-plan office for ways of working that better reflect concerns about productivity and well-being.


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