Remote.

As I type this I’m sitting at the Blessed Bean in Wagga Wagga. Why on earth would you be in Wagga, I hear you ask? Well, one of my dogs needed surgery so I drove the 3 hours to Wagga, dropped her off, and I’ll camp here for the day until she’s ready to go home.

And what does any of this have to do with software? Well, it’s our deliberate software choices that have made it possible for me to be at work on time, in another town, miles from home, run important errands, and not miss a beat.

The rise of the anywhere worker is more than just for tech companies. Taking a mobile first approach for any office based team holds enormous benefits, starting with the flexibility to be able to work just as effectively off-site if a situation calls for it.

Imagine the morale that a person gets from being able to attend to their personal pressures without having to take one of their precious vacation days, still be productive, and the knock on effect that not dropping their teammates in it brings to everyone else.

Just in this one scenario, a mobile-first approach seems like a good idea. And here’s the rub: it takes no extra effort or cost. You have to use software in your business. It may as well be a cloud solution that can be accessed anywhere with an internet connection.

Cloud Software enables us to be productive when we choose to be. Recording of writing this post in Wagga, on Mobile Wifi via Camtasia for Mac.

 

Fuelled in part by the success of the iPhone (which led to the first time in history that employees brought their own devices to work and forced IT departments to facilitate their choices), the modern workforce is more flexible and more dislocated than ever before.

Since 2005, working from home has increased 103% among people who are not self-employed. 2.8% of the workforce now work from home at least half of their hours. The employed population grew by 1.9% from 2013 to 2014, while telecommuting grew at a much higher rate: 5.6%.*

Clearly employers are responding to newly available technology and lifestyle demands from new people entering the workforce.

Lab24 attributes the rise of the anywhere worker to Salesforce. “Wave after wave of technology has fueled these changes. Disrupting CRM, Salesforce enabled the first wave of anywhere sellers, anywhere marketers, and anywhere service professionals to solve customer needs anytime, anywhere.”*

Working from the road, on the weekend that we decided to move permanently to the mountains.

Salesforce enabling sales and marketing teams to work from anywhere, without having to “return to base” at the end of every day, sparked a change in consumer demand. And SAAS companies have built on that trend ever since.

Google Apps for Work (now GSuite) and Microsoft Office365 enabled live collaboration on documents that were previously restricted to one person. DropBox and Box enabled secure, always accessible file storage that was previously restricted to in-office servers. Gotomeeting enabled teams to see each other face-to-face across any timezone and border, something that was once impossible, and later so bloody expensive that it was out of reach for all but the wealthiest companies. The extraordinary rise of productivity tools has made it fashionable to be focused on producing more.

Now, let’s define “anywhere worker” before we continue.

The anywhere worker is not just working from an in-home office extension. The anywhere worker is working from cafes. They’re working from the road. They’re working from offices. They’re working in coworking spaces. They’re travelling. Or, they’re not. The true anywhere worker has the freedom to choose.

(16.4% of Lab24 respondents admitted to working from the toilet. Grim.)

The vast majority of survey respondents said they work while on the way to work (83.6%), which according to Lab24, “is fairly clear evidence that people aren’t just working from anywhere for the sake of it. More likely, the ability to work remotely is a useful function.”

*Worryingly, 73.7% admitted to communicating with colleagues while driving… hopefully on bluetooth.

Talk about remote… working from a four wheel drive in the Simpson Desert. Credit: Offroad Images

People entering the workforce and those who have been in it for a long time are increasingly expecting, or demanding, increased flexibility and the freedom to work how and when they want.

In Lab24’s survey just 22.8% of those surveyed only work from the office, excluding the fact that they regularly work to and from the office.

56.5% said they expect to work more hours remotely next year (2016).

The trend is only going up.

Working on the road. Credit: Get Flywheel

What’s in it for the employer?

Employee retention – 87% of survey respondents said they would not leave a remote positon for a higher salary.

Employee attraction – 85% of millennials want to remote work 100% of the time*. Put another way, there is a very strong probability that the best future employees will want to work remotely. The companies who embrace anywhere working will win the HR arms race.

Productivity – 91% of employees believe they get more work done remotely.*

Commitment – remote workers are more than twice as likely to work extra, unpaid hours.*

What’s in it for the worker?

Happiness – Telecommuting workers were 48% more likely to rank their job a 10 – the highest level – on the happiness scale

Satisfaction – 91% of employees believe they get more work done remotely.* And people feel good about being productive. It doesn’t take a genius to see how at least feeling more productive breeds a happier workforce.

Much like the aphorism “happy wife, happy life”, happy employees are more effective, stay with the company for longer, would choose remote working over a higher salary, cost less in overheads (desks in Sydney are obscenely expensive) and produce more. What’s not to love?

Companies who embrace a mobile-first workforce will win the HR arms race.

A mobile-first attitude will lead to a happier workforce, increased employee retention, increased productivity, reduced overhead and attract the best applicants.

Essential Technology for the Anywhere Worker

Smartphones and Laptops rule the hardware roost when it comes to remote working. Surprisingly given their popularity, tablets are yet to catch on as a remote working essential.

The Surface has totally blurred the line between laptop and tablet for Microsoft users. Android handsets and iOS devices have dedicated apps for almost all cloud softwares. Hardware becomes more irrelevant every day, and it really boils down to personal preference. It’s the software that we choose to use that makes the difference.

Below you’ll find a list of our favourite tools that facilitate our own remote team, and the teams we work with. Where relevant, we also point out which tools integrate the best with each other. You’ll see a number of softwares on multiple lists where their functionality, and value, crosses over.

Key: ¹ = integrates well with Zapier; ² = integrates with the epicWorkato

Real-time Collaboration

Slack ¹ ² – the most important tool in our business.
Invision – real-time design collaboration.
Trello ¹ – the great organiser.
Asana ¹ – our project management tool.
Google Docs/Sheets/Slides ¹ ² – Cloud Office software, with the features that most people need.
Dialpad – advanced mobile telephony.

Cloud File Storage

Google Drive ¹ ²
Dropbox ¹ ²
Box ¹ ²

CRM

Salesforce ²
Infusionsoft ¹
Base CRM

Sales (inc. Payment Processing)

Salesforce ²
Infusionsoft ¹
ActiveRelay
Stripe ¹ ²
Shopify ¹ ²

Accounting

Xero ²
QBO ²

Marketing Automation

Infusionsoft ¹ ²
ActiveCampaign ¹
Hubspot ²

Project Management

Asana ¹
Trello ¹
Slack ¹ ²

Process Automation

Infusionsoft ¹ ²
ActiveCampaign ¹
Hubspot ²
Slack ¹ ²
Zapier
Workato

Integration Platforms as a Service 

Zapier – useful action based automation “if this happens, then do this” integration service.
Workato – epically powerful, epically complex, epic integrations across multiple apps in one recipe. Awesome, awesome tool.

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