There has been a major increase in the amount of people working remotely in the United States. Currently, 3.4% of the US population that works remotely full-time. A study by Owl Labs found that nearly 50% of U.S. employees work remotely at least once per week in 2019!. And remote working is showing no signs of slowing down. Over the last 5 years, working remotely grew 44%, and while many businesses have or are planning to implement a more flexible workplace policy, 43% of businesses fear that flexible working may impact the overall company culture. This begs the question: what are the biggest advantages and disadvantages of remote working?
Advantages of remote working
1) Remote work increases productivity and job satisfaction
A two year study by Stanford found that working at home increased productivity by 13%. This increase was partially attributed to fewer breaks and sick days, a quieter and more convenient working environment, and the lack of stress of commuting. That same study found that home workers had increased work satisfaction and their attrition rate halved. Another study by Owl Labs in the State of Remote Work 2019 Report confirmed that remote workers are happier; in fact, they are 22% more likely to be happier in their jobs than people who never work remotely. The importance of employee happiness shouldn’t be overlooked. There is scientific evidence that links employee happiness with productivity. Bottom line: happy workers are productive workers.
Remote working might not be the only action that you can implement to increase employee happiness.
2) Remote work attracts talent and retains talent
A key factor when new employees evaluate new career opportunities is the ability for flexible work. Almost 71% of U.S. workers agree that the ability to work remotely would make them more likely to choose one employee over another. Moreover, a survey found that 76% of respondents would be more loyal to their employers if they had flexible work options. If you have not done so already, it might be time to start reconsidering that 9AM-5PM workday blanket and giving employees more flexibility in their hours and schedule.
“We like to give people the freedom to work where they want, safe in the knowledge that they have the drive and expertise to perform excellently, whether they [are] at their desk or in their kitchen. Yours truly has never worked out of an office, and never will.”
— Richard Branson, Founder and Chairman of Virgin
3) Remote work reduces costs for business
There are cost-saving benefits both to the employee and to the employer that comes with remote working. For the employee, the cost for transit, food, clothing, and childcare decreases. For the employers, overhead costs such as renting office space, paying for desks, computers, and utilities decreases. In 2018 alone, it is estimated that companies saved almost $5 billion from allowing people to work from home part-time. Seems like a win-win for the employee and the employer, but are there downsides to remote working?
Disadvantages of remote working
1) Remote work can impact team cohesion
With remote working, face-to-face contact is generally lost, and it may be hard to develop camaraderie that makes for truly great teams. Video conferencing can offset this. In addition, setting regular face-to-face meet ups can help build team morale. Providing and nurturing an online meeting place (like Slack) to share articles, stories, and thoughts can help you better know and build trust with your team. Ensure to check-in often to build a cohesive team.
2) Remote working can lack structure
Work flexibility has become a huge draw for the employees partly due to structure fluidity. And yet, this upside can actually prove to be a struggle for some workers. Some people fall into a ‘grazing’ way of working (dipping in and out of work throughout the day with no distinct start or end points). In the long term, this may upset work-life balance for the employee. Luckily, this can be offset by setting clear boundaries and structure. Make sure to set clear guidelines with your employee so they know what the expectations are. It is also good idea to set up etiquette for remote meetings.
3) Remote workers may be difficult to manage
It may be hard to manage employees when you cannot pop into their office to see how their work is going. However, using a system (like Pavestep) that tracks employee progress and provides an easy way to give feedback will allow you to effectively manage employees. If your employees want to work remotely, having a good system will be become vital for your team success (check out our guidebook on remote work to ace remote work management).
What about your organization – does it allow for remote working? While there are some downsides to remote working, the benefits of remote working should make employers consider adding working-from-home in their company’s portfolio of engagement tools.
Have any thoughts on remote working? Let us know!