How Remote Work Helps Us Work Smarter

A HiringThing employee works smarter remotely.

The Conversation Around Remote Work Has Gotten Intense

In the immediate wake of the pandemic, remote work was getting almost only good press. It allowed for flexibility! People were more productive! Work-life balance was back! We saved time on commutes! Most importantly, the world of work hadn’t completely come undone just because most of us were working remotely.

However, now that we’re safely ensconced in our post-pandemic reality, it seems like many of the powers that be decided that it was time to return to the way things have always been. Large companies viewed as workplace leaders—Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon—insisted their staffs return to in-person work, and many influential CEOs and publications decried the negatives around remote work—check out this New York Post article—Shocking 3D model reveals what ‘damaging’ remote work could do to our bodies— for an example that feels like a parody (but somehow…isn’t). 

It’s unfortunate that this is the way this “debate” is viewed. As Mark Mortenson writes in a Harvard Business Review piece, ...the one consistent element of the arguments for and against is how strong and entrenched the stances are.” Now, we’re obviously staunch proponents of remote work here at HiringThing, but it’s a more nuanced subject than many business leaders and headlines are making it out to be. 

We agree more with the take on remote work Lora Kelley had in The Atlantic Daily newsletter, where she wrote,” For all the talk of productivity and metrics and company culture, the topic of returning to the office is intensely personal. My needs and desires, for a variety of reasons relating to my age, finances, circumstances, health situation, and lifestyle, might be very different from those of workers who fall elsewhere on any of those axes.” 

Remote Work Gets a PR Win: Remote Workers Work Longer and Harder

The last week of July, remote work got a nice bout of good PR in a The Hill article titled Remote employees work longer and harder, studies show. The article shares several studies backing up that remote and hybrid employees work longer and harder than their office-bound counterparts.

  • A study tracking more than 60,000 Microsoft employees over the first half of 2020 found that remote work triggered a 10% boost in weekly hours worked. 
  • A pre-pandemic study found a 13% boost in productivity for workers who worked remotely. 
  • Productivity is generally higher now than before the pandemic, even though the amount of hours remote workers log is down a half hour currently compared to pre-pandemic times. 

Is Working Longer and Harder a Good Thing? 

While you may think we loved The Hill article, it’s a more nuanced conversation. Working longer and harder just to work longer and harder goes against some of our core values here at HiringThing. We’re big proponents of remote work because it gives us the flexibility to work in the environment that makes us most successful, and that often has more to do with the work environment than harder/longer hours. Additionally, we’re big proponents of a healthy work-life balance, something we think produces a more engaged workforce who are ready to live out one of our other core values: smart people solving challenging problems. 

Working longer and harder used to be a success metric, but that’s becoming outdated (again, we’re not against working long or hard when necessary, but not just for the sake of it). As recruiter Jack Kelly wrote in a Forbes piece, “I admit that pre-Covid-19, I counseled people to play the game. I’d tell them to make sure that their supervisors are well aware of all that you are doing. I’d suggest to people to make it look like you’re putting in the long hours. Leave your suit jacket on the back of your chair and keep a half empty cup of coffee with the remains of a bagel on the desk when you leave your office…With remote, there is no need for the charades any longer. Now, it's all about productivity. Since you’re out of sight, the only thing that managers can measure you on is output and results. No longer do you need to play the silly corporate games of pretending you're at your desk all day long.”

At HiringThing, We Use Our Flexible, Remote Modality to Work Smarter 

At HiringThing, we don’t necessarily use remote work to work longer or harder, but we definitely use the flexibility to be more creative, productive, and work smarter. In this piece, we wanted to give you some real-life insights into how our team manages that. We asked our team to answer one (or several…or all!) of the following questions:

  • How does working remotely make you work smarter? 
  • How does working remotely make you more productive? 
  • How does working remotely bolster your creativity? 
  • How does a healthy work-life balance make you a stronger employee? 

Here’s how they answered: 

How remote work makes us smarter:

“I have gotten much better at grouping like tasks as a remote worker. I find that I am much less likely to get off track or caught up in someone else's priority (unless warranted) in this environment. It has allowed me to create a workspace that works for me, so if I need to stand up and do a quick 10 min Yoga stretch session to reset my brain I can easily do so. This keeps my brain fresh and engaged. It also allows me to be surrounded by my own comforts which in turn gives me the space to focus on the work instead of the temperature, or the color of the wall, or the conversation happening in the next cubicle.” -Becca Noland, Human Resource Manager

“I am able to control my working environment, which allows me to set myself up for success. The temperature of the room, the sound levels and even what art I have on the walls are all things that have been cultivated to promote a workspace that allows comfort and focus, which equals working smarter.” -Casi Kristant, ATS Success and Implementations

“I like to change my environment when I need the creative juices to flow. I'll work on my patio for a change of scenery or take a walk to reset, which is so easy to do in a remote environment. While not appearing to be ‘productive’ in an office environment might raise an eyebrow”. -Joanna Campa, Marketing Director

How remote work makes us more productive: 

“I am able to set my working hours around my own schedule which allows me to select hours that work best for my energy. I am not battling stressful rush hour traffic and am able to be with my family in the morning. I am available drop off for my kids at school which provides a healthy family balance as a parent. Less stress in the mornings equals starting the day fresh and with energy to tackle the day.” -Casi Kristant, ATS Success and Implementation

“I feel increased autonomy and ownership of my work. That freedom enables me to constantly rethink how I can get further faster without working more hours of the day.”- Joanna Campa, Marketing Director

“No commute, no wasted time driving hours to and from work, no open office plans that thwart a heads-down focused moment, no one stopping at my desk to interrupt me working, and I have control over my environment from the temperature to the sound to the look and even smell--working from home makes it far easier in every way to be productive. I feel settled and focused more so in my home office than in any organization’s office. And with more control over my schedule, I can ensure I'm creating periods of focus time as well as meeting times.” -Noël Hancock, Director, ATS Success and Implementations

How remote work makes us more creative: 

“I think it's really important for each person to map out their productivity and creativity level for each point of the day. Some people tend to be the most productive early in the mornings, while others may be more of a night owl. Either way, knowing your productivity schedule is vital to ensuring efficiency. I've found that I'm most productive early in the mornings but most creative late in the evenings. The great thing about our remote work environment is that if there's a certain project or task that I'm working on that requires me to be super creative, I have the flexibility to be able to adjust my work schedule to allow me to work during my peak creative hours without the added stress of traditional office constraints such as office hours and commute. The same can be said if I'm working on something that may need me to be at my peak productivity hours. That flexibility allows me to be the most efficient version of myself.” -Amanda Clark, Director of Customer Success

“The beauty of remote work is that there is a lot more intent in communication, because organic ‘oh, I ran into you in the hallway’ conversations don't happen. This requires you to really consider what you are going to say and how to present it in a way that is clearly heard, which pushes you to think outside the box. As HR for a remote company, I am called upon to creatively create a culture that thrives even though we don't "hang out" on a regular basis. I love the opportunity it provides me to really focus on key elements we take for granted in an in-person environment. It also allows for space to learn and absorb new things and experiment with ideas that might allow the insecurities of others ‘seeing us try’ hold us back in an in-person setting.” -Becca Noland, Human Resource Manager 

“How does working remotely bolster your creativity? As an extrovert I was originally concerned about working remotely as I am fueled by brainstorming and working with others. I have found that I am able to be MORE creative remotely because when I am in a meeting I am using active listening to focus on my team. There are less distractions and I have built strong boundaries for my office space to be used specifically for my career.” -Casi Kristant, ATS Success and Implementation

“The ability to tailor my work environment and schedule allows me to focus on the hard tasks at the right times where I can be the most productive. While there is still plenty of opportunity for distractions, you can easily pause Slack notifications or lock the dog out of the office. In an office setting, you have less control over who stops by your office to chat." -Joanna Campa, Marketing Director

“I have more freedom in how I lay out my office as well as plan my day which both contribute to increasing creativity and then taking advantage of those moments of creativity. I can be more inventive with my clothing which is a great way to express creativity. Additionally, I have more freedom to simply step away from my desk and take a moment for some brain clearing. I can be silly and dance around and bring blood back to my brain when I'm feeling less than creative.”  -Noël Hancock, Director, ATS Success and Implementations

How a healthy work-life balance makes us stronger employees: 

“How does a healthy work-life balance make you a stronger employee? This is my favorite question! HiringThing as a company are experts in a successful work life balance. It requires strong communication, organization and trust. Having the work calendar and the trust of your team allows you to be free to allow life to happen. Being available for my children if there is a school emergency or to volunteer at their school allows me to feel like a connected parent in my home life, thus providing a happier individual for my work life. When I am at work I am able to give my full focus because of the care and respect provided by my company.” -Casi Kristant, ATS Success and Implementation

“I can bring my best self to work when I feel healthy and happy. For me, having a clutter-free space and clear head makes me ready to tackle the work.” - Joanna Campa, Marketing Director

“Because I'm more focused, creative and productive, I'm automatically a stronger employee. I'm not harboring frustration over a long, wasteful commute to and from work. I can step immediately into work as soon as my morning starts. I'm instantly settled and ready to focus. And then, when I'm done, I can close my laptop and immediately go work out. Creating the balance and life I want ensures I am a strong employee, focused on getting tasks done and helping grow the business.”  -Noël Hancock, Director, ATS Success and Implementations

About HiringThing 

HiringThing is a modern recruiting and employee onboarding platform as a service that creates seamless talent experiences. Our white label solutions and open API enable technology and service providers to offer hiring and onboarding to their clients. Approachable and adaptable, the platform empowers anyone, anywhere to build their dream team.