Marc Tobias – Managing Director, DMJ Recruitment
The development of remote working in a post-Covid world is possibly one of the only positive developments to come out of the dark cloud that entered all our lives in 2020. Remote working allows for a better work-life balance, more autonomy and removes some distractions. Remote workers also report being 32% more satisfied with their careers—and when they’re happy, they’re more productive.
But what about remote working when abroad, perhaps either for a prolonged holiday or a permanent move – does this still positively impact productivity?
First, let’s take a look at how remote working in general affects productivity.
People who are working remotely tend to be more productive for several reasons. One is the decrease in distractions. No one is going to linger over you discussing trivial matters while you’re desperately trying to finish a task. You can also delve deeper into your work for longer periods due to the solitude, thereby achieving more and perhaps even better results. A recent study by The Quarterly Journal of Economics found that staff are notably more productive when working from home for four days a week, and in general were 13% more productive at home. Around 4% of that productivity came from workers being able to fit more tasks in per day, due to fewer distractions.
Working remotely also allows for flexibility outside of regular hours, so you can shift your hours around your personal productivity levels. I personally like to start earlier and finish earlier when I work from home, as I’m naturally much more productive first thing in the morning.
Remote working allows you to create a schedule where you can maintain a balance between work and personal life, through taking away the faff of commuting and the extra time spent getting ready. This saved time has been shown in studies to enhance performance.
But what about working remotely abroad? How does this impact productivity?
Taking your remote desk overseas retains a lot of the benefits that you’ve just read about – a better work-life balance, enhanced engagement and flexibility in terms of choosing the hours that you are most productive. Having individuals working abroad also helps the business, as companies can attract global talent and enhance their international strategy. Employees in diverse locations around the world can promote the brand abroad, either through targeted advertising or organically, as people working remotely may report back opportunities for growth to their bosses. This is not only a benefit for the business but it can also further increase the motivation and productivity of employees, as they can clearly see their individual impact on the business and feel they are making a vital contribution.
There are of course some potential downsides to working so far removed from the office environment. On a personal level you may find yourself missing out on the comradery and team spirit that engaging with colleagues on a face-to-face basis brings. Depending on your personality, feelings of isolation and loneliness can creep in and this can have a negative effect on your mental health. Elements of collaboration and learning and developing together as a group are lost when team members are spread far and wide, and this represents a drawback for both the employee and the company as a whole.
Some might view working abroad, or having an employee working abroad, as being too complicated because of the potential for significant time differences affecting means of communication. But patterns of work have become so much more flexible in recent times that something as minor as different time zones shouldn’t be a barrier to all the positives that working abroad can bring, for both individual and company alike.
The ultimate clincher for me is that if you want to work abroad, and are allowed to do so by your job, you’re likely going to be far happier. Happier employees generally report correlated increases in productivity. A study by the University of Warwick, for example, found happiness made people work 12% harder. After all, who wouldn’t be happier when their after-work drinks can take place on a tropical beach or beneath a breath-taking mountain vista?