In 2017, more than 4.3 million people worked remotely in the UK. The latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that three quarters of these people were experienced professionals who work in the highest skilled areas of the economy.
Research carried out by the TUC, has found that in the last decade the number of workers who say they usually work from home has increased by a fifth. This growing trend is partially in response to companies trying to recruit top talent by offering a better work-life balance.
On a global scale, the World Economic Forum’s most recent forecast of employment trends called flexible working, such as virtual teams, “one of the biggest drivers of transformation”.
Tech companies such as Zapier, Basecamp, Github and Microsoft are pioneering different approaches to virtual teams. Employers such as the Civil Service, Vodafone, Transport for London and Unilever are regularly praised by workers for their flexible work culture. While charities such as Unicef have tapped into the potential offered by spreading teams across time zones.
Remote working is not just for multinationals. Small businesses can also embrace the virtual team, with productivity and access to the best talent being the biggest benefits. Research shows that employees working remotely are highly productive, motivated and committed to their employers.
Much like the rise of home delivery from supermarkets has disrupted how we purchase food, remote working has the ability to change the way we approach the traditional office structure. The massive benefit from this is a huge reduction in commuting and the impact this could have on pollution.
“The benefits are immense: a better lifestyle, with positive benefits for recruitment and retention; a reduced carbon footprint; enhanced accommodation of diversity; better mental and physical health; improved productivity; more effective use of property.” – Bruce Mann, former Cabinet Office finance director, Civil Service