Working remotely can be an attractive proposition for both employers and employees. The virtual worker is rewarded with job flexibility - providing their services from home, separate or even multiple office locations. The employer can streamline their business, and minimise overheads.
The fundamental reason for this increasingly popular workforce is the growing access to technology. Technology such as the smart phone and tablet are becoming mainstream amongst professionals. We can now perform tasks very effectively from almost any location. Quite simply, technology is driving efficiency and communication.
Remote workers can wear whatever they want, avoid traffic and related travel costs, potentially dictate their working hours, all while avoiding the bulk of office distractions and internal politics. In some industries, it's highly likely that this style of working and managing will be prevalent in the future.
As the world heads towards the 'post PC phase', now is the time to test the 'remote office' with your staff. If you remain inflexible you may miss the boat and run the risk of losing touch with your employees and customers. If your competitors are cutting operating costs by managing a virtual workplace, this will be reflected in their prices and their share of the market place.
There are possible downsides. Workers may feel out of touch, find it harder to communicate with their seniors, losing sight of a tasks and predetermined outcomes. Achieving the ultimate remote work balance will be important and perhaps heavily dependent on management.
Not everyone is suited to this style of working - or managing. The virtual workplace suits self-motivated employees, capable of working around distractions, and comfortable working in solitude. If your employee doesn't tick these boxes then perhaps they're better off in the office.