Remote Work | Productivity in Pajamas?

Commentary by Taylor W. Henderson, a 20-year-old student and graphic artist, specializing in media management, branding services and digital marketing for 3 Properties. 

Tech has a huge impact on everyday human life in our country – from GPS, Uber and UberEats, to Skype, Air-Drop and video conferences. As the internet erases the wait times and location boundaries of the past, many companies have opened their minds and practices up to trying new strategies. People can do more with tech, including having a fulfilling full-time career from home. Working remotely has become a realized dream for millions over the past decade, and it’s surprising what the data shows.

But what does working remotely actually mean?

Dictionary.com defines telecommuting as working at home by using a computer terminal electronically linked to one’s place of employment. In its basic form, remote work could be bringing a company owned computer along on vacation or maybe outsourced tech and web tasks, done by invisible smart people that could be living in microchips or library basements for all you know. More than you might expect, this style of work isn’t exclusive to the self-employed, vacationing moguls or those on medical leave.

Like nearly every aspect of our lives, the working landscape is facing change as tech and data rise in importance during this digital revolution. For example, reported here by Pew Social Trends, since 1990 manufacturing employment has declined by 1/3 while employment in knowledge-intensive & service oriented sectors grows rapidly. Knowledge takes up much less real estate.

For some companies, having a physical office space for every worker is like getting a wall-to-ceiling bookshelf for your Kindle.

As tech capabilities and widespread access to instant communication continue to grow, more and more industries and occupations are becoming tele-friendly. Why? Well, the benefits extend far beyond less rent, traffic and fluorescent lighting.

In this article from the Harvard Business Review, Nicholas Bloom and James Liang gave employees of Ctrip, a successful Chinese travel website, the opportunity to volunteer to work from home for nine months. Half the volunteers telecommuted and the other half was the control group that stayed in office. The data from the study concluded that compared to the in-office workers, the at-home workers were not only happier and less likely to quit, but also more productive.

When asked to explain the findings and defend the research, Bloom says:

“The results we saw at Ctrip blew me away. Ctrip was thinking that it could save money on space and furniture if people worked from home and that the savings would outweigh the productivity hit it would take when employees left the discipline of the office environment. Instead, we found that people working from home completed 13.5% more calls than the staff in the office did—meaning that Ctrip got almost an extra workday a week out of them. They also quit at half the rate of people in the office—way beyond what we anticipated. And predictably, at-home workers reported much higher job satisfaction.”

Today industries continue to embrace remote work – none more rapidly than the finance, insurance and real estate industries. The share of workers in those fields working remotely at least some of the time rose eight percent, to 47 percent, from 2012 to 2016. (Gallup, 2017). In transportation, computer, information systems and mathematics, more than half of employees work remotely at least part of the time.

Read more on trends from Gallup research in this New York Times article.

Not every job can be remote, however, and not everyone is suited for that lifestyle. Some research points to isolation as a large potential risk for telecommuters. On a busy day, it could be quite possible for someone working from a desk in their home, to never leave or have any face-to-face human interaction all day.

But in the true spirit of a Millennial, I like to think, where there’s a Wifi there’s a way.

Co-working options such as WeWork, Industrious and Mod are popping up and thriving to solve space, distance and isolation issues in many cities around the country. Business Insider writes here about the NYC startup that is finding a unique way to help remote workers stay connected with the city. Spacious is the membership-based program where you can pay to work in one or any of the many restaurants that remain closed all day. Secure wifi, unlimited coffee, part-time hosts and two payment options are just the basic features of this new option that repurposes vacant space in a city that need to take advantage of all of it.

The value in remote working comes in many forms but for 3 Properties, as a diverse brokerage, it affords great people with unique circumstances and lifestyles the ability to still do great work and grow their career. For instance, our President is not only a successful female broker running operations, closing deals and strategizing the growth of our company in a male-dominated industry, she is also a fantastic mother of three, a wife of 20 years and actively plays tennis a national level. It’s not hard to see that the system we use to stay in communication, as our CEO works from NYC and our President conducts recruitment interviews all over the country, is a huge key to our success.

With the incoming development of CRE tech and smart programs, I expect remote working to be embraced even more by the industry. Not to mention how limiting it is to only search for talent in your backyard. 3 Properties’ desire to find the best brokers in the country & to create a network of Net Lease Nerds, means there’s no choice but to charge full speed ahead with our remote strategy and system and evolve with the times.