A Deeper Look into the State of Remote Work
Written by: Estelle Pin
We’re excited to announce the findings of a new research study that TINYpulse has co-authored with Owl Labs, on the state of remote work. The study is one of the first of its kind to focus on employee success and retention for remote workers.
The topic of working remotely is more important than ever, as more than half of employees surveyed report working from outside the office at least one day a week. As more employees prioritize flexibility in their job search, we wanted to know how the shift to supporting remote work affected both management and the individual contributors in this new environment. The findings were truly fascinating.
THE CONCERNS AROUND SUPPORTING REMOTE WORK
Collecting data from 1,097 workers based all over the United States, our survey found that job performance is the most important factor for managers when considering an employee’s request to work remotely.
Meanwhile, managers of distributed teams reported that the biggest challenge they faced wasn’t measuring performance, but cultivating company culture. In fact, tracking productivity and performance ranked lower than coordinating activities, sharing common knowledge, and supporting career progression, when it came to quantifying the challenges of supporting remote work.
WORKING FROM HOME RARELY AFFECTS PERFORMANCE OR EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT
The truth is, remote workers actually have slightly higher levels of investment in their work, and on average the study found that they performed equally to onsite employees. Since 51% of remote employees reported working remotely to improve work/life balance, it’s possible that the better engagement in remote workers comes from the clearer boundaries and work habits required to successfully work remotely.
When you consider that companies that support remote work have a 25% higher retention rate than companies that don’t, supporting remote workers seems like a no-brainer. The study also found that even among employees who don’t work remotely today, 65% of them would like to work remotely at least once a month in the future, meaning this trend is probably on the rise.
REMOTE WORK CAN BE CHALLENGING FOR UNSUPPORTED EMPLOYEES
While there are challenges to working remotely, our research suggests that most of those challenges are handled by the remote workers, more than by management. Of those surveyed, remote workers reported having 25% fewer career growth conversations on average than their onsite counterparts. Remote workers also responded that their biggest challenge was staying in the loop, and that conversations and celebrations were things that they missed most when working remotely.
Since we already know that employees are 10% more likely to stay with their organization if there are professional growth opportunities to be had, it’s important for managers with distributed workforces to put aside time for those conversations with their employees, and for employees to take the lead on initiating these conversations when they are needed.
If you combine the retention benefits of consistent hands-on career coaching from management and leadership, with the increased engagement that natural occurs when employees have some schedule flexibility, and you might find that you’ve unlocked better employee engagement for your organization.
SUPPORTING REMOTE WORK CAN ALSO MEAN HIRING BETTER TALENT, FASTER
One interesting find in this new report is related to companies that had entirely distributed workforces. According to the research, these companies were able to hire 33% faster than other companies. This suggests that without geographical limitations to hiring, fully-distributed companies can more effectively expand their talent pool, finding the most skilled and experienced candidates faster.
Small businesses are also more likely to hire distributed workforces; respondents reported being twice as likely to hire full-time remote employees as larger companies. Especially in a competitive job market, small employers can compete with larger organizations to find and acquire high-talent potential when they can offer flexibility and support to prospective employees that want to work from home.
MOST ONSITE EMPLOYEES DON’T FEEL ENABLED TO WORK REMOTELY
Of those employees that do work onsite exclusively, 57% of the them reported that the nature of their job didn’t allow for remote work. Far fewer respondents reported working onsite due to personal preferences.
Combined with only 25% of all respondents saying that they would not like to work remotely, the data suggests that there’s a large number of employees who would like more flexibility, but just aren’t getting it in their current positions.
Takeaways: employee engagement and employer success might all depend on better support for remote workers
There’s already data that supports the theory of a remote-work sweet spot, where engagement and productivity are at their highest—and it’s not an onsite-only ratio. Understanding the challenges and features of a remote workforce can help empower managers to change behaviors and protocols to support these talented team members, and to make smart choices in managing their human capital.
Here’s Why Bitcoin Won’t Replace Gold So Easily
What a week it was.
First and foremost, I’d like to acknowledge the horrific mass shooting that occurred in Las Vegas, the deadliest in modern American history. On behalf of everyone at U.S. Global Investors, I extend my sincerest and most heartfelt condolences to the victims and their families.
The memory of the shooting was still fresh in people’s minds during last Tuesday’s Hollywood premiere of Blade Runner 2049, which nixed the usual red carpet and other glitz in light of the tragedy. Before the film, producers shared poignant words, saying that in times such as these, the arts are crucial now more than ever.
I had the distinct privilege to attend the premiere. My good friend Frank Giustra, whose production company Thunderbird Entertainment owns a stake in the Blade Runner franchise, was kind enough to invite me along. Despite the somber mood—a pivotal scene in the film even takes place in an irradiated Las Vegas—I thought Blade Runner 2049 was spectacular. Even if you’re not a fan of the original 1982 film, it’s still worth experiencing in theaters. Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch’s synth-heavy score is especially haunting.
CNET recently published an interesting piece examining the accuracy of future tech as depicted in the original Blade Runner, from androids to flying cars to off-world travel read the article here.
Still in the Early Innings of Cryptocurrencies
Speaking of the future, I spoke on the topic of the blockchain last week at the Subscriber Investment Summit in Vancouver. My presentation focused on the future of mining—not just of gold and precious metals but also cryptocurrencies.
Believe it or not, there are upwards of 2,100 digital currencies being traded in the world right now, with a combined market cap of nearly $150 billion, according to Coinranking.com.
Obviously not all of these cryptos will survive. We’re still in the early innings. Last month I compared this exciting new digital world to the earliest days of the dotcom era, and just as there were winners and losers then, so too will there be winners and losers today. Although bitcoin and Ethereum appear to be the frontrunners right now, recall that only 20 years ago AOL and Yahoo! were poised to dominate the internet. How times have changed!
It will be interesting to see which coins emerge as the “Amazon” and “Google” of cryptocurrencies.
For now, Ethereum has some huge backers. The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA), according to its website, seeks to “learn from and build upon the only smart contract supporting blockchain currently running in real-world production—Ethereum.” The EEA includes several big-name financial and tech firms such as Credit Suisse, Intel, Microsoft and JPMorgan Chase, whose own CEO, Jamie Dimon, knocked cryptos a couple of weeks ago.
To learn more about the blockchain and cryptocurrencies, watch this engaging two-minute video.
Will Bitcoin Replace Gold?
Lately I’ve been seeing more and more headlines asking whether cryptos are “killing” gold. Would the gold price be higher today if massive amounts of money weren’t flowing into bitcoin? Both assets, after all, are sometimes favored as safe havens. They’re decentralized and accepted all over the world, 24 hours a day. Transactions are anonymous. Supply is limited.
But I don’t think for a second that cryptocurrencies will ever replace gold, for a number of reasons. For one, cryptos are strictly forms of currency, whereas gold has many other time-tested applications, from jewelry to dentistry to electronics.
Unlike cryptos, gold doesn’t require electricity to trade. This makes it especially useful in situations such as hurricane-ravished Puerto Rico, where 95 percent of people are reportedly still without power. Right now the island’s economy is cash-only. If you have gold jewelry or coins, they can be converted into cash—all without electricity or WiFi.
Finally, gold remains one of the most liquid assets, traded daily in well-established exchanges all around the globe. Every day, some £13.8 billion, or $18 billion, worth of physical gold are traded in London alone, according to the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA). The cryptocurrency market, although expanding rapidly, is not quite there yet.
I will admit, though, that bitcoin is energizing some investors, especially millennials, in ways that gold might have a hard time doing. The proof is all over the internet. You can find a number of TED Talks on bitcoin, cryptocurrencies and the blockchain, but to my knowledge, none is available on gold investing. YouTube is likewise bursting at the seams with videos on cryptos.
Bitcoin is up 350 percent for the year, Ethereum an unbelievable 3,600 percent. Gold, meanwhile, is up around 10 percent. Producers, as measured by the NYSE Arca Gold Miners Index, have gained 11.5 percent in 2017, 23 percent since its 52-week low in December 2016.
Look Past the Negativity to Find the Good News
The news is filled with negative headlines, and sometimes it’s challenging to stay positive. Take Friday’s jobs report. It showed that the U.S. lost 33,000 jobs in September, the first month in seven years that this happened. A weak report was expected because of Hurricane Irma, but no one could have guessed the losses would be this deep.
The jobs report wasn’t all bad news, however. For one, the decline is very likely temporary. Beyond that, a record 4.88 million Americans who were previously sitting out of the labor force found work last month. This helped the unemployment rate fall to 4.2 percent, a 16-year low.
There’s more that supports a stronger U.S. economy. As I shared with you last week, the Manufacturing ISM Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose to a 13-year high in September, indicating rapid expansion in the manufacturing industry. Factory orders were up during the month. Auto sales were up. Oil has stayed in the relatively low $50-a-barrel range, which is good for transportation and industrials, especially airlines. Small-cap stocks, as measured by the Russell 2000 Index, continue to climb above their 50-day and 200-day moving averages as excitement over tax reform intensifies.
These are among the reasons why I remain bullish.
One final note: Speaking on tax reform, Warren Buffett told CNBC last week that he’s waiting to sell assets until he knows the plan will go through. “I would feel kind of silly if I realized $1 billion worth of gains and paid $350 million in tax on it if I just waited a few months and would have paid $250 million,” he said.
It’s a fair comment, and I imagine other like-minded, forward-thinking investors, buyers and sellers will also wait to make huge transactions if they can help it. Tax reform isn’t a done deal, but I think it has a much better chance of being signed into law than a health care overhaul.
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