Remote work? Yes, please!

Getting up way too early to feel refreshed and rushing to make it to the office on time. Pushing yourself to stay fully productive for eight hours straight. Considering weekends a godsend thanks to which you can finally run all you errands. Sounds familiar? And probably not too exciting…

Fortunately for many of us, the 9-to-5 workday spent at the office is no longer a necessity. In fact, with the nearly unlimited access to the Internet and the advanced tech at our fingertips, the traditional 8-hour workday concept, which has been around for almost 80 years now, is becoming a thing of the past.

According to FlexJobs annual survey, the popularity of telecommuting has grown by 22% last year. As of 2018, 56% of companies all around the globe support telecommuting by being either fully remote or offering their employees a mix of in-office and remote possibilities. To cut a long story short, most surveys on telework show that almost every employee would like to be given an opportunity to work in the place of their choice for at least a limited period of time.

How often do you work remotely

There are numerous factors which account for prevalence of telecommuting in recent years. For now, however, allow us to focus on the most universal one: remote work simply caters to the needs of all economically active generations.

Let’s start with the youngest, tech-savvy Generation Z. Born at the turn of the century, they not only consider working from home their daily bread but even take telecommuting to the next level by turning into digital nomads. Adopting this lifestyle entails spending workation at any chosen part of the world and is believed to become one of the dominant remote work trends in the years to come.

Telework is just as popular among Millennials and Generation X. For the former, it’s a benefit that influences their attitude to work – one study has shown that 82% of Millennials would show greater devotion to their employer if they were allowed to work from home. For the latter, telecommuting is a chance to remain economically active for longer even in the face of physical limitations.

The mixed blessing of working remotely

Numerous reports on the state of the job market nowadays prove that telework is indeed the future. According to Buffer’s survey, for instance, 90% of employees who tried their hand at remote work plan on doing it for the rest of their careers. We shouldn’t forget, however, that telecommuting isn’t all fun and games – there are just as many pros as cons to it.

Let’s start on a positive note. To begin with, working from home can significantly boost productivity by eliminating interruptions such as loud conversations or distracting spaces. According to Stanford University research, telecommuters can be 13,5% more effective than their counterparts who work at the office. Nicholas Bloom, the author of the study, compares this productivity boost to “getting an extra day’s work from each employee”.

Secondly, telecommuting helps employees maintain a healthy work-life balance. Remote workers can enjoy a more flexible schedule and, as a result, smoothly switch between work, family life, and hobbies. At the end of the day, personal satisfaction translates to enhanced job loyalty and raised morale.

Finally, telework can make employees more relaxed. Job stress takes its toll not only on workers’ mental and physical health, but also on the quality of their performance. As numerous research suggest, fulfilling professional duties gets much easier when it’s done in the comfort zone of your own room.

Remote office jungle

When you’re telecommuting, your house jungle 🌿 🌱 can become a fully fledged office.
Here’s a calming view of the soothing greenery at Asia’s (our Sales Specialist) windowsill.

Nonetheless, telecommuting is not a black-and-white issue. One of the risks it entails is burnout as some workers may feel the need to thank their employers for an opportunity to work remotely by putting in extra effort. While is doesn’t seem harmless at first glance, doing overtime and denying oneself breaks or even taking vacations can in the longer run backfire at both the employee and their boss.

Another problem might be the feeling of isolation. According to Buffer’s 2018 State of Remote Work, loneliness is the biggest struggle of remote workers. Spending working days alone, many telecommuters feel disconnected and unable to build stronger relationships that normally facilitate communication with coworkers.

The above list of pros and cons is by no means a finite one. At this point, however, we need to state one thing clearly: regardless of all possible drawbacks, telecommuting can work miracles when planned properly. And that’s exactly the mission that we’ve undertook and managed to accomplish at Apptension.

Our take on telecommuting

When asked by Stack Overflow about the factors that would influence their choice between two similar job offers, 37,1% of the surveyed developers stated that the possibility of remote work would be a dealbreaker for them. Bearing in mind the fact that telework is commonplace in the IT sector, it should come as no surprise that remote work plays an important part in our life at a creative software house as well.

Dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s

In the US alone, 57% of companies which support telework lack policies that would govern its implementation. That was also our case until we found out that many employees aren’t sure how to approach working from home. At that point we decided to set the record straight.

To make sure that the new regulations will cater to everybody’s needs, we started by carrying out a short survey which has revealed that:

  • We need to define remote rights and obligations, e.g. rules concerning our online responsiveness and availability for teammates.
  • Most of us prefer to work from home when the need arises rather than to commit to a definite number of remote days a month.
  • Telework should by no means be an excuse for fooling around. On the contrary, we believe that it’s a sign of employer’s trust so every team member ought to show equally strong work ethics when working in-office and at home.

We carefully analyzed employees’ insights and set them against feedback collected from heads of respective departments. To ensure that our internal regulations are in full compliance with the Polish labor law, we consulted them with the lawyer as well.

After a couple of weeks of hard work, we managed to finish Apptension’s complete guide to working remotely, which was accepted by all members of our team. This is not the time or place to quote its full text but let us share a visual summary of our internal regulations.

7 tips for improving remote work

Putting an idea to the test

Our guide to remote work wasn’t an instance of art created for art’s sake only. On the contrary, it’s been published just before launching a 3-week-long telecommuting period at Apptension (which we’ll tell you more about very soon 😉 ). This fortunate twist of events enabled us to perform a crash test of sorts and see how the regulations work in real life.

Remote headquarters

Even when nobody’s watching, we keep our desks neat and tidy ✨
That’s an impeccable headquarters of Przemek, one of our devs.

Once everybody returned to the office, we asked our colleagues to tell us how they feel about the remote work rules. It has turned out that we’ve done a pretty good job designing them.

Would you like to change anything about Apptension's remote work rules?

The only suggestions concerned flexibility of the working hours and the need for indicating one’s availability in a Slack status. Otherwise, most of our respondents were convinced that the guidelines are informative and helpful.

In the questionnaire, we also asked about their opinion on telecommuting in general. Overall, 80% of the interviewees were overtly positive about this experiment. In the future, 33% of them plan to work from home occasionally and 37% want to do it whenever the need to do so occurs.

Remote work pet companion

Some of us had company 😸  while working from home.
Say hello to Tybalt, who’s been tirelessly helping Ola, our Content Specialist, write this article.

The survey has also shown that as a team, we are all aware of both pros and cons of telework. The three dominant advantages we named include:

  • no need for commuting which results in saving both time and money
  • maintaining a flexible schedule
  • having more time for nurturing relationships with family and friends

Home office breakfast

Another major benefit was having more time for breakfast.
These yummy and healthy treats were made by Ali, our Head of Growth.

As far as the drawbacks are concerned, it has turned out that the two prevalent are:

  • the lack of clear division between work and time off
  • the feeling of isolation from the company’s life

40% of the respondents also admitted to doing overtime which only proves that unplugging after work is not an easy task when working remotely. It’s worth mentioning, however, that ⅓ of us do not consider remote work to be troublesome at all.

In addition to gathering solid data, we were provided with some invaluable insights as well.

I really appreciate having the opportunity to work remotely. It allows me to be more productive (I enjoy working in silence) and run my errands whenever I want. (…) At the same time, it sometimes makes me feel lonely. All in all, I’ll be turning to remote work when it’s needed but I’m sure I won’t become a 100% remote employee.

I noticed I’m more organized and focused. I’m not distracted by other people although I miss my team so I can’t imagine working 100% remotely.

An especially interesting comment has been posted on how to help telecommuters beat the remote work blues:

It is necessary to publish messages on the “internal” or “announcements” channel to make people feel [like they’re a part of] a community. In this way, they can comment on something which can be a substitute for a face-to-face conversation.

Remote office in a restaurant

Michał, who’s a Creative Strategist at Apptension, knows that Slack is life even when you’re out to lunch.

Conclusion

The 3-week-long telework period proved to be an educational experience for us. It’s been a lesson in communication, management, and self-control. Nonetheless, it has also shown that when joining forces, we are capable of formulating regulations which help rather than restrict.

Did our guide on working remotely at a creative software house capture your attention? Well, it’s just a small part of life at Apptension. If you wish to try it for yourself, find out more about our vacancies. We can’t wait to meet you!

About the author

Aleksandra Pytko

Aleksandra Pytko

Content Marketing Specialist
Content Marketing Specialist at Apptension. A big fan of Shakespeare, postdramatic theatre, and all kinds of pizza.

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