Traditionalists are notoriously hard sells. I don\u2019t mean politically; I mean technologically.\nWhile remote working might not sound controversial, the ideological divides are clearly drawn.\nOver the past few years, Google, Yahoo and Best Buy have all made headlines with their \u201cno remote working\u201d policies. The most recent entry into this hardline approach is IBM. Just last month, CMO Michelle Peluso announced in a private video to marketing staff: Move on site, or move out.\nAfter 19 straight quarters of declining revenue, the decision to relocate their dispersed teams to one of six \u201cstrategic\u201d offices is driven not just by the bottom line, but by an underlying assumption about what makes great teams great. As Peluso explained:\n\n\u201cThere is only one recipe I know for success \u2026 and that is by bringing great people with the right skills, give them the right tools, give them a mission, make sure they can analyze their results, put them in really creative inspiring locations and set them free.\n\u201c[T]here is something about a team being more powerful, more impactful, more creative, and frankly hopefully having more fun when they are shoulder to shoulder.\u201d\n\nThe deep irony of this announcement\u2014as well as the larger controversy surrounding remote working\u2014is that data-driven companies all too often make these decisions without data.\n\nDoes remote working undercut creativity and innovation?\nDoes it weaken team morale?\nDoes it negate the human elements so vital to strong partnerships?\nIs it a strain on the bottom line?\n\nIn a nutshell: Does remote working work?\nThese are serious questions that deserve serious answers. That\u2019s why we at Polycom, with the help of Morar Consulting, launched a global study of 25,234 workers to find out.\nThe results are in, and the data is definitive. In fact, our findings from the The Changing World of Work: A Global Survey reveal two truths no leader can afford to ignore.\n1. Flexibility is the new normal\nCall it telecommuting, digital-hybrid employment, or plain-old remote, only 23 percent of employees say their company does not offer some form of \u201cflexible working.\u201d Moreover, 32 percent said they \u201cwork this way often,\u201d and another 29 percent say they work this way \u201cfrom time to time.\u201d Most revealing, over three-fourths reported they work with at least one person who isn\u2019t located in the same office.\nNot surprisingly, this \u201cwork anywhere\u201d trend spikes among younger generations. While 49 percent of employees 50 years or older said they often work away from traditional offices (just barely outside the majority), a full 70 percent of millennials identified themselves within this category. This finding not only reinforces earlier data from sources such as the Canada\u2019s Telecommunications Industry Report, but it does so on a global scale.\nNaturally, the rise of flexibility does not in and of itself prove its value. What it does establish is the dominant role it now plays, as well as what a pressing expectation it\u2019s become for workers. This is especially true for organizations in competitive industries such as technology where fresh talent is crucial to innovation and success.\nThe world beyond our physical locations is replete with talent. People are not widgets, easily substituted or swapped out. What\u2019s more, many of them love the place they already live. Attracting and retaining top talent demands widening the pool, not limiting it by geography. Such benefits are well worth the investment in supporting and promoting a flexible work environment.\n2. Remote working is about both happiness and productivity\nAs for the value of remote working, three benefits stood out. First was control, namely, \u201cthe choice to take control of your work-life balance.\u201d Seventy percent of respondents identified this as the single biggest advantage.\nPsychologists and business leaders have long known that control is a huge driver of personal and professional happiness. In his TEDTalk and book-length treatment, Daniel Pink summarized the case for \u201cautonomy\u201d:\n\n\u201cAccording to a cluster of recent behavioral science studies, autonomous motivation promotes greater conceptual understanding, better grades, enhanced persistence at school and in sporting activities, higher productivity, less burnout, and greater levels of psychological well-being.\u201d\n\nSecond\u2014and flowing directly out of the first\u2014productivity. In fact, both the second and third benefits revolved around productivity: \u201cYou can work anywhere to be more productive\u201d (64 percent) and \u201cYou can care for children and still work productively\u201d (37 percent). Other benefits included time to enjoy exercise and hobbies (33 percent), avoid the stress of commuting (26 percent), and better meetings (24 percent).\nWhat\u2019s important to see is how overlapping and interlocking choice, happiness, productivity, and remote working have become. Peluso was half right when she said success comes from \u201cbringing great people with the right skills\u201d together and then setting \u201cthem free.\u201d It turns out, however, that setting them free has just as much to do with where someone works as with who and how.\nThe meetings that matter\nPerhaps the study\u2019s findings won\u2019t be enough to change the minds of traditionalists. So rather than close with more data, I\u2019ll close with this:\nToday I\u2019ve met with team members and outside stakeholders in many different cities and countries. I\u2019ve met all of them, without leaving my office in Colorado. In fact, right now I\u2019m sitting in my home office waiting for a text message from my daughter that will take me to the local hospital to meet my first grandchild.\nIn a very real sense, remote working has made writing this possible. But even more important, because I didn\u2019t have to be there for those meetings, I get to be here for this one. And that\u2019s what makes remote working work.