Why remote working is the future of Barbados

I’ve been running my Virtual Assistant business for just over three years now.  I started back in 2018 when it seemed to be the only solution for my life at the time. Knowing Barbadian society well, I figured it would be a bit of an uphill climb to get clients to understand the concept of remote working and I was  right. Here on my beloved island we are far from being considered advocates for change; Bajans love to tell you about “the way things are done” and in the  Barbadian work industry employees need to be in the office so the bosses can watch their every move.  Only a  few forward thinking (and younger of course) entrepreneurs were willing to take a chance on hiring a virtual assistant, even though remote working has long been a thriving industry in the US & UK.

Yet here we are now, a year into pandemic life and businesses that would never have considered it possible two years ago, now find themselves having to function with their staff working remotely; and what do you know, it seems to be working JUST FINE!  Who would’ve thought?

I want my Barbadian people to be freed from the shackles of office life.  We have all of the technology at our disposal; we can do and be so much more.

So let me take this opportunity to make my “Remote Work is the future” pitch. Here are FIVE reasons why Barbados needs to move toward a culture of working from home:

1. It’s the healthier option

I think this pretty much goes without saying now thanks to Covid-19 but for argument’s sake let’s remove the current pandemic from the scenario. We were previously going to work in poorly ventilated offices with central air conditioning that evenly distributed every cough, sneeze and other un-thinkable germs throughout the office  Think about all of the times before Covid-19 that you still went to work even though you felt a little under the weather.  Surely now that we’ve gone through this experience we can appreciate how working remotely is definitely better for the health of everyone involved.

There are other ways that remote working can make for significant improvements in the mental and physical health of the employee.  Employees get to avoid the real possibility of a toxic work environment. Instead of being forced into enclosed spaces for hours with people they can barely get along with they get to eat meals at home with the family they actually like.  They also have greater control over their meal choices with a fully accessible kitchen and refrigerator at their disposal.

The absence of a work commute can also add at least an hour or two to an employee’s day that they can now use to be productive in other ways. They can physically exercise, get extra rest, spend time with loved ones, etc.  They could even put those extra hours towards getting their work tasks done.

2. Cost efficient

If we look at it from an employer’s point of view, having your employees work remotely, saves you from paying rent and utilities like water, electricity, phone & internet for your building or space.  That alone must be a noteworthy impact on your budget every month.  Then there’s no need to pay for uniforms for staff. No need for desks, filing cabinets, and all those other pieces of costly furniture and equipment to outfit your office space.

For the employee, think of the savings on commute costs; no need to pay three Mia Mottley dollars per bus ride to and from work everyday. If you drive, consider the ever fluctuating cost of gasoline and diesel, not to mention the cost of the repairs to your vehicles after traversing these Bajan roads.    Think of the money that you spend on lunch and snacks that you’ll save, because as we fully understand now that we’re adults, “we got food at home”. If uniforms were not provided there was that additional expense of needing appropriate work attire; no longer an issue when I can work in my pajamas.

Remote working is simply more cost-effective for everyone involved.

3. Increased productivity

This is the one that you really have to convince Barbadian business owners of right here.  They are CERTAIN that if they cannot see you, you will not work, and that rationale is hilarious to me.  The number of series I have watched from beginning to completion at my desk in the past….I cannot even begin to count.   Watching your employees will not make them any more productive. They’re still going to take every opportunity they get to be idle if that’s their desire. If you’re worried your employees will be at home watching Netflix when they should be working, they do that at the office anyway; they have the app on their phones.

In reality it has been proven that employees who work remotely actually get a lot more done.  In this study done by Nicholas Bloom, co-director of the Productivity,  Innovation & Entrepreneurship Program of the US’s National Bureau of Economic Research,  productivity increased by 13.5%. That’s the equivalent of an extra day of work from each employee.  There were also fewer sick days used and less time off requested (because they weren’t existing in a cesspool of recirculated germs, am I right?)

remote working leads to better productivity

4. Better for the environment

Barbados, in an effort to embrace renewable energy, has committed to eliminating fossil fuels completely and being zero carbon by 2030.  We are 9 years away from that deadline so it’s a very ambitious goal, but moving toward a remote working culture can play a part in reaching it.

Working from home would result in a significant decrease in the greenhouse gases produced by the numerous vehicles on the road.  There would be less waste generated from offices, especially with regards to paper use, and there would be a reduction in electricity used to keep offices lit and air-conditioned through the day and night.

Remember how clean the entire world became when we were all forced to lock down for a bit?  No more smog in China or Los Angeles, swans swimming in Venice; let’s face it, human beings, existing as we have in the past, are a plague on the earth. A move toward remote working is a step toward a greener Barbados.

5. Happier employees

Your employees are commuting less, well rested and saving money.  They get to be more productive, while having greater flexibility to do things that lead to a better work/life balance.  They’re spending time with their loved ones,  eating better and working out more.  Most importantly, they don’t have to wear pants. Of COURSE they’re happier; and happy employees are much more likely to be loyal and long-lasting ones.

a remote employee is a happier employee

Conclusion

So there we have it, my desperate plea to the Barbadian work-force. Yes, I’m well aware that not every position in every industry can be done remotely;  I wouldn’t want my dentist to check my toothache via zoom.  The reality is though, that a LOT of roles can be fully accomplished by remote working. The only thing stopping us from embracing these new levels of productivity and improving our livelihoods are the mindsets of our past.

If you’re a business owner and  you want to learn more about how you can transition to a remote work model, Subscribe to my mailing list!

7 Comments on “Why remote working is the future of Barbados

  1. My sentiments too. I’m from Barbados also and started offering this service Jan 2019 w/ some work. Then 2020 came that was that.

    • I’m sorry to hear that. Let’s hope we can get you back to work as soon as possible. If you don’t mind me asking what have you been doing since then?

  2. Agreed. I, too, am a virtual assistant and I cannot tell you how much less stressed I am in having been able to work from home since last year.

    The only issue I would say is that even though you may save money on commuting, you do tend to eat/snack a lot more due to the improved accessibility of food. I guess this just calls for more discipline but with the pandemic, having more members in the house at once depletes food stores more rapidly so it is easier said than done to buy more groceries on the same pay check you were struggling to make ends meet with all along.

    • This is so true. It definitely does call for some discipline. Just this week I’ve made a conscious effort to do better with meals and staying active. It can be very easy to get really lazy if you’re not careful

      • I agree with your comments Jessica.

        I start working remotely from the middle of March 2020. I made my workspace suitable for me and I have the flexibility to move at a pace which enhanced my productivity. Mentally I felt so much as ease, didn’t have to worry about the stress of commuting and doing school drop off by 7:30 am to get to work by 8:00 am. I have become more independent as I embrace technology.

  3. Agreed 100%, even with this second lockdown you would think some businesses would’ve learned from the first one – Bajans don’t like change and are severely behind in several aspects of life that would make things so much more sufficient

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