The past decade has seen a revolution in the workforce with the rise of remote workers across all industries. What started as an experiment with many skeptical observers has turned into a worldwide phenomenon. But what exactly makes remote work both appealing and beneficial to organizations and employees alike? And is it here to stay? With advancements in telecommunication technology and the introduction of web-based collaboration tools, remote work has never been easier, but it does come with its fair share of caveats. In this article, we’ve broken down the benefits, costs, and future of remote work to help explain this recent phenomenon.
The Benefits of Remote Work
As time passes, companies are beginning to see how a distributed workforce brings competitive advantages. This spike can be attributed to the proliferation of digital productivity tools that create less barriers to entry. However, the benefits of this employment model are really what have solidified its place in the workforce.
Benefits to the employee:
- Better work/life balance – Remote work gives employees more control over their time. With this freedom, workers have been shown to be happier than in the traditional office setting. Workers can find a workplace in which they feel comfortable and productive, whether it be a modern coworking space or a home office.
- More efficient – The time and energy spent commuting are both eliminated while working remotely. Not only do employees cut fuel costs, but they can save up to ten hours of mindless commuting each week by working from more convenient locations.
- Better skill development – Only employees who are capable of managing their time well and performing independently thrive by working remotely. The ability to work without a large amount of oversight not only benefits managers by freeing up their time but also increases individual employee skill development.
- Catering to different work styles – Not everyone can work eight hours straight without a lapse in productivity. In fact, most employees benefit from different combinations of breaks and work spread out throughout the day. By working remotely, employees can get more out of their breaks than simply sitting in a break room sipping coffee. They can then return to their normal duties feeling refreshed and much more productive.
- Increased employment options – With companies beginning to hire more remote employees, job seekers have a much larger pool of options when applying to positions. No longer do they have to be located in the same city as a company to be a valuable employee.
Benefits to the company:
- Increased employee productivity and lower turnover rates – When employees are satisfied with their working arrangements, they have shown to be more productive and engaged. Employees who are happy with their employer will be more likely to stay loyal and consistently produce high-quality deliverables.
- Reduced organizational costs – Office space can be expensive. By allowing employees to become remote, companies are able to cut costs related to real estate and utilities, even if only a portion of their employee base works outside of the office.
- Access to a wider pool of talent – If a company no longer has to hire employees based on their geographical location, they are able to hire solely based on talent and skills. With an increased pool of applicants, companies can find the best match for their teams.
- The death of 9-5 business hours – Remote work opens up the possibility of companies being available outside of their brick and mortar 9-5 hours. By staffing in different time zones, companies are able to strategically distribute their workforce to support customers or clients 24/7.
- Less time wasted – Unfortunately, office distractions are unavoidable in a brick and mortar environment. How many hours a year do you think are wasted over water cooler chats or hallway gossip? With no water cooler or hallway, remote employees can focus more on their tasks and less on their coworkers’ stories!
While there are many criticisms, the biggest argument against allowing a distributed workforce comes down to trust. Do you trust your employees to do their job without a manager present to check in on them? Historically, companies have not, and managers have always felt better being able to manage their teams in person. But trust isn’t the only issue with remote workers. Some other popular reasons to keep all employees in-house are:
- Communication issues with remote employees – It’s easier to communicate with someone face-to-face. With remote employees, messages or emails can go unread by accident, buried in their inboxes. Many companies fear that communication takes a hit when employees go remote.
- Travel costs – In almost all remote work situations, there will eventually become a need for face-to-face interaction. Perhaps it is a training session or a company all-hands meeting. When this happens, travel costs become a factor that companies must add to their budgets.
- Overworking – Working from home runs the risk of never knowing when to stop working. Employees who make their own hours may end up working too many hours, allowing them to burn out easily. With a manager in the same physical space, they can see when an employee is having a hard time and lend a hand.
- Isolation – Employees who work from home may feel isolated and less like a part of the team. Employees working in an office environment build camaraderie through shared experiences, and these relationships help them work together to solve problems. Remote employees miss out on these benefits.
Remote Work Is Here To Stay
While there are legitimate concerns to allowing remote work, companies have nevertheless increased their remote offerings year after year. Many organizations believe that the benefits outweigh the costs, and the industry reflects this change. For many of the popular criticisms, there are companies that have found solutions. For instance, businesses can solve communication issues with a wide variety of communication technologies available. Applications such as Salesforce Chatter, Slack, and Microsoft Teams can help remote employees seamlessly engage with their in-office peers. Another popular school of thought counters the issue of trust simply by saying: if you cannot trust your employees to work autonomously and without constant managerial presence, you should have hired better employees. The criticisms are quickly being silenced as companies are experiencing the difference that remote workers can make in their organization. And as more companies are adopting remote work allowances, they are also adopting best practices for remote communication and management.
Can You Benefit From Remote Employees?
At Ntegro, our team is spread out across the globe. We have employees located in two main hubs, but we also have other team members who work remotely every day. For us, we have found that a distributed workforce actually helps us provide value to our customers. If you’d like to hear more about how we operate, you can contact us online.