Remote work is a flexible arrangement that allows employees to work from home or anywhere. Employees no longer have to work out of a corporate office. Some employees work remotely full time, while others may do so for a prescribed number of days per week or month.
Like everything, remote work has its pros and cons. Following is a discussion of those advantages and disadvantages, from an employer’s perspective.
The Pros of Offering a Remote Work Environment
Nowadays, almost everybody wants the flexibility of at least some remote work if their industry is conducive to it. Employees appreciate saving time, gas money, and the wear and tear on their cars from long commutes. They also value the increased family time and comfortable environment that remote work provides.
Because of these perks, employees are more likely to look for and accept jobs that offer virtual work options. Given the choice between higher pay and less flexibility or lower pay and more flexibility, they will often choose in favor of flexibility. Remote working boosts employee loyalty. Remote workers are 13% more likely to stay in their current job for the next five years. Therefore, remote work is a great benefit for employers to offer when they want to attract and retain great talent.
Remote work can represent significant cost savings for employers. They can save thousands of dollars if they no longer have to buy, lease, and/or maintain large office spaces. They can cut down considerably on office supplies and equipment. Large companies can see significant savings in areas like on-site benefits such as food, child care, and fitness facilities.
According to survey data compiled from 100 million data points across 30,000 users, Prodoscore has tracked a 47% increase in worker productivity from employees who now work remotely. The study noted that telephone calls were up 230%, CRM activity increased by 176% and email activity also increased by 57%
Companies report that remote workers ask for fewer days off, which increases productivity and creates a significant savings. Productivity and performance are increased when employees work remotely because the convenience of finishing a project.
A remote workforce has some potential for unclear, insufficient, or delayed communication. Since managers can’t simply walk to the corner office for a sit-down chat. Therefore, they must set clear ground rules and expectations regarding communication, policies, and procedures. Virtual, instructor-led training (VILT) can be a key strategy in setting these expectations.
Managers must also prioritize frequent contact with remote workers via phone conversations, emails, virtual meetings and trainings, messaging apps, and real-time chat tools.
Team Building Challenges
Another issue that can arise with a remote workforce is that it becomes harder to create cohesive teams and build relationships. Human interaction plays a vital role in building camaraderie and trust; it can be challenging to build the same rapport using web conferencing tools. and lets the team easily manage the what’s and how’s, this challenge can be overcome.
“Challenging,” however, is not synonymous with “impossible.” The right technology is not only useful for virtual training, collaboration, and project management, but it also incorporates a social element that allows colleagues to have the personal interactions they need to feel unified and work together as a team. The effort to put such tools in place is worth it because “managers can expect more creativity and better problem solving from a team that’s personally connected” (Law Depot).
Not everyone does well in a remote work environment. It’s up to the managing team to set the right expectations, have consistent and positive check points, provide virtual learning and socialization opportunities and listen intently to the challenges an employee is discussing. The road to success is communication, communication and communication.