Globally, an enormous number of employees regularly work remotely. According to International Workplace Group, 70 percent of professionals work remotely at least once a week, and 53 percent work remotely for at least half the week.
Further, polling company Gallup says that flexible scheduling and work-from-home opportunities play a major role in an employee’s decision to take or leave a job.
Understanding that some jobs simply can’t be done remotely, is your company smart about its remote work approach? Consider the pros and cons:
Why It Works
Here are just a few of the benefits of having remote-friendly work policies:
Cost savings: Having employees work remotely some or all of the week means your company can operate using less space. This translates to less overhead expense, such as rent.
Expertise anywhere: When location doesn’t matter, you can hire the expertise you need anywhere in the world, expanding your talent pool immeasurably.
Increased productivity: No commute. No water cooler. No drop-in conversations. Remote employees often report that they are more focused because they have fewer distractions.
Satisfied workers: When you can simultaneously do a load of laundry and do your job, it simplifies your life. Remote workers enjoy more flexibility and more work-life balance.
Why It Doesn’t
Obviously, there are some downsides to having a remote workforce:
Communication complications: Much of powerful interaction happens casually. Face-to-face conversations can spark ideas. Brainstorming and collaboration are often easier and more effective in person.
Employees left out: Remote employees don’t share in monthly birthday celebrations, coffee breaks, or other camaraderie-promoting activities. They can also be inadvertently left out of last-minute meetings and announcements.
Security: Cybersecurity and safe handling of confidential and proprietary information is a hurdle for many companies considering a remote workforce. Investment is required.
Lack of oversight: Working remotely isn’t for everyone or for every business. Some employees simply don’t have the discipline to work from home. This becomes obvious when their work product slows, diminishes, or lessens in quality.
Similarly, some managers are frustrated when they can’t actually see an employee working. They have trouble trusting that the employee isn’t taking advantage of his or her remote status.
What makes a strong remote workforce?
Core hours: Having core hours, say 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in a prescribed time zone makes scheduling easier. If there’s room for everyone to gather, having everyone in the office a few days a month may also be a good idea to promote company culture and spirit.
Right fit: It’s important to choose the right employees and job functions for remote work. Working from home or in a satellite office can be a perk that disciplined employees earn.
Clear rules: Remote options work best when the company’s expectations are clear. Be explicit about deliverables, hours, availability, and access.
Finally, check your state rules and regulations to ensure that you’re complying with laws regarding taxes, worker status (contractor versus employee), and other labor issues.