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Pros and Cons of Remote Work

Kristen Caldwell
May 9, 2019 · 3  min.

Throughout human history, our working environments have gone through several huge shifts. From hunters and gatherers to farmers and traders, from farmers to industry factory workers, and from factory workers to the modern day office employee. Today, we are starting to see the next big shift in our type of work environments. With the click of a button, you can be face to face with someone across the globe and that’s impacting how we work with each other. Why sit in an hour commute on the highway in bumper to bumper traffic when you can just log on from the comfort of your own home, or a local coffee shop? Why stifle productivity and creativity because the traditional 9-5 doesn’t work for you? By 2020, 50% of all workers will be remote most of the time.

However, remote work doesn’t work for all companies and great employees don’t necessarily make for great remote employees. Remote work also doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Hybrid teams are very popular. Allowing employees to work remotely some days drastically improves performance. According to Owl Labs, employees who work remotely at least once per month are 24% more likely to be happy and productive in their roles than those who can’t or don’t work remotely.

In part I of this topic, we’ll go through some pros and cons of remote work, and in part II we’ll highlight the types of people you should hire for remote work and how you can manage them effectively. Be on the lookout for part II to drop sometime next week!

 

 

Pros

  • Attract More Talent – having a remote team allows employers to find the best talent. Not just the best local talent. 69% of millennials will trade other work benefits for flexible workspace options according to the International Workplace Group
  • Expand Geographic Limitations – By offering a remote work option, you don’t limit your hiring to just employees nearby. You also can hire the best talent without having to pay a relocation fee.
  • Enhanced Productivity – Remote workers face fewer distractions from coworkers, which has an impact on daily output. They are also more likely to work overtime than their office-bound counterparts. In a survey conducted by Polycom Inc, 2 out of 3 respondents said they are more productive working remotely than when they worked at an on-site office. 3 out of 4 respondents said working remotely helps them with work/life balance.
  • Cost Savings – Businesses save an average of $10,000/year and the remote employee saves approximately $5,000/year. Everyone wins!
  • Better Employee Retention – Turnover can be expensive and disheartening to a company. Studies show that remote employees are more engaged and tend to stay with a company longer than non-remote employees. By allowing for any amount of remote work, companies can reduce their turnover rates by 25%.
  • Ensure Diversity – Since remote employees allow for hires from a broader geographical standpoint, this will bring in employees with varying perspectives, points of view, and backgrounds. This allows for more innovative ideas, problem solving and a better understanding of their customers.

Cons

  • Challenges with Collaboration – Collaboration is key to the success of a company and a remote employee will need to put in extra effort to ensure there is collaboration with their co-workers. According to a survey by Owl Labs, participants noted that brainstorms were the hardest activity to participate in via video.
  • Weaken Communication – It’s much more effective to write out thoughts on a whiteboard with someone in person versus a remote employee. In addition, remote employees miss out on the impromptu conversations that office employees can have.
  • Less Interaction – Email can lead to slower turnaround. Complicated matters can be resolved much faster by walking over to someone’s desk as opposed to a long, drawn out email thread.

Although, to be fair, today’s current office designs also reduce productivity and engagement. Harvard Business School professor Ethan Bernstein studied two Fortune 500 companies that made the shift to an open office environment from a cubical design. The researchers found that after the organization made the move to open-plan offices, workers spent 73 percent less time in face-to-face interactions. Meanwhile, email use rose 67 percent and IM use went up 75 percent. So, if there isn’t enough privacy and quiet spaces, workers won’t gain the benefits from an office anyway and according to a report by Workforce Futures, 83% of employees feel they do not need an office to be productive.

 


Author
Kristen Caldwell
NextView Talent Advisor
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