The shift towards working remotely really began in 2020 and as we fast forward to 2022, Gartner forecasts that 31% of all workers worldwide will be either hybrid or fully remote throughout 2022.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant negative impact on the bottom line of many organisations, and a lot are still trying to recover. Offering remote work opportunities has been a popular fix for this problem, as it has been proven to positively impact resource spend.
However, many organisations are still avoiding remote work primarily due to productivity and security concerns when operating ‘out of sight’, as well as having a general lack of readiness to adapt to the shift.
In February 2021 Gartner’s survey found that about 70% of employees wished to continue some form of remote work.
Corporate giants, Twitter and Facebook have already permitted their employees to work remotely permanently. Whilst, on the other hand, many corporate leaders have stated that remote work is an “aberration” and are urging employees to return to the office to collaborate on ideas.
Let’s examine some of the pros and cons of remote work.
With no need for long commutes or travelling to other cities/countries, people inherently have a lot more time for their work and families. This new “found time” can be distributed towards getting more work done or spending more time on personal activities.
It was surprising to discover that people were more productive when working in remote settings. Although working from home comes with its own set of distractions, it was found that employees were more focused without the typical office distractions.
Remote workers find they can both attend scheduled meetings and preserve quiet time to get solo work completed, giving them more flexibility in their schedules. Many companies have also seen an increase in attendance since meetings are not being worked around travel plans and commuting schedules.
Balancing family needs
Whilst some people complain about the challenges of working with children in their homes, the reality is that most people find it easier to balance their work and family requirements when they have the flexibility to work from home.
Remote work provides clear cost savings for both employers and employees. Employers have dramatically reduced the cost of business travel and operational utility expenses, while employees avoid commuting costs.
Remote work further encourages the deconstruction of hierarchical structures and provides more horizontal interactions with increased equality. For Example, in a Zoom meeting, there is no higher status, seating order or physical presence, as everyone’s screen is the same size.
New Security Risks
It’s no secret that allowing remote work brings new challenges and risks to your organisation. Employees have the freedom to work from wherever they want, however they want. This may include working in public places, using public WiFi or working on personal devices.
To mitigate the risks to your organisation, it becomes essential to implement strong policies and technology to ensure secure operation.
Lack of Insight & Trust
When all your employees are in the office, it’s much easier to wander around and keep an eye on them. But how are you supposed to know what remote workers are doing, and if they’re doing non-work-related tasks during work hours?
If you have hired employees that you don’t trust to complete great work promptly, then it’s probably time to re-examine your hiring process. However, even if you do trust your employees, it remains essential to track progress and deadlines. How should this be done?
Being with customers
There is nothing quite like meeting with your customers in the office or at their place of business. This connection enables employees to use all their senses and build better and more personal relationships.
Ultimately, every organisation, especially depending on its industry, will have a differing preference or opinion when it comes to working remotely. Whilst some organisations capitalise on the advantages, others do not possess the same capability.
Instinctively we are social animals and enjoy the company of others. However, there is the mix of introvert and extravert to consider. The extravert pines for interaction with other human beings and finds it hard to remain in one place for long. On the other hand, the introvert is quite happy to spend time on their own, focusing on projects or work requirements.
Although a generalisation, the point is that some people ‘want’ to work in a collegiate (office) environment, whilst others would prefer to work from home. How do you manage this dynamic without alienating the ‘out of sight’ colleagues and over time a ‘them and us’ attitude begins to manifest within the organisation?
A recent study conducted in-house by HOED Research NZ found that younger employees were keen to return to the office, whereas older employees were happy to work from home. This result was the opposite of what was envisaged, expecting the older worker to want to work in an office and the younger employee, whilst managing their busy lives using technology, preferring to work from home. Further investigation revealed that the younger employees missed their friends and the social aspect of a busy office environment, whereas priorities for the older worker were about children at school and managing the home.