How To Decide If Remote Work Is Right For Your Company
With remote work on the rise, it is normal for business owners to wonder if this working style is the right step for their business. Working outside of a corporate office is slowly becoming a standard. Working in coffee shops, at home, or for some lucky few, on a tropical island, has become mainstream and feasible for many companies in the past few years. The flexibility of remote work and the many benefits professionals experience whilst telecommuting make it an attractive method of working.
Whilst working outside of a traditional office environment may not be for everyone or every type of job, it is an excellent option for some. For employees that love to be in their own space to work effectively, enjoy autonomy, and want a better work-life balance – remote work is the way to go.
According to Finder UK, 60% of the adult population in the United Kingdom are currently working from home, primarily due to the coronavirus pandemic. If you are considering taking your company remote, you have to keep in mind the various factors that may positively or negatively affect your business.
Creating a pros and cons list for whether remote work is suitable for your company is an essential step in deciding whether or not it is the best move for your business. This list must be tailor-made to your business to fit its needs, ensuring that the remote work benefits outweigh the disadvantages.
But, moving to a remote work model may help your company attract and retain talented professionals. According to a Deloitte survey, more than 60% of Millennials and Generation Z cited that they would like to work from home.
Some advantages of remote work for employers include:
According to a study, employees are able to get more done when they can choose where and when to work. The flexibility that remote work gives allows employees to put in their best efforts and work smarter. Employees can work when they feel most productive and get more done in less time due to fewer distractions they might face whilst working remotely. Interestingly, working in an office environment can come with more distractions, thanks to workplace banter and office politics. According to research revealed in Stanford’s Quarterly Journal of Economics, working from home for nine months led to a 13% increase in performance. This performance increase was partly attributed to a convenient and quieter work environment.
Lower Turnover Rates
There is a higher sense of loyalty among employees when companies trust them to do a great job working remotely. The confidence placed in the team helps increase their sense of belonging and increases employee retention in the process. Companies that allow employees to work from home are often preferred to companies with requirements for physical presence in an office. This means that companies that work remotely are less likely to experience an influx of employees leaving, since the positives of working from home are often strong enough to prevent high turnovers. Reduced turnover also decreases the costs involved in recruiting and training new employees.
Increased Options for Recruitment
Companies that hire remotely have access to a vast pool of talent since they can attract skilled workers from any geographical location. Employers have the freedom to choose employees based on their skill set rather than if they are available at their location. Some companies choose to hire within their country, but in any region or state, while others are open to international hires. The model you choose for your company will depend on what industry you are in, the type of work that is needed, and where the talent to meet the demand is located.
Companies reduce their overhead costs such as lighting, cooling and heating. They also save on rent with more people working remotely since they can reduce their office space requirements. With fewer employees coming into the office, companies can save on items such as tea, coffee, water, and company-provided snacks and meals.
Better Employee Engagement
Since remote workers do not have to face the hassle of a stressful commute and a traditionally busy work environment, they tend to be happier and enjoy increased work morale. Many employees at remote work companies generally also feel better cared for and experience lower stress levels. When employees are satisfied with their work conditions, they are more engaged in their work, but also with their co-workers, team members, clients, and bosses.
Benefits of remote work for employees include:
Better Work-life Balance
Employees may have the opportunity to create their work schedule when given a chance to work remotely. This is an especially helpful benefit for those who have children or care for loved ones. With more time spent at home instead of commuting to work, they can enjoy more family time or personal downtime. It also opens them up to exploring methods of self-care such as yoga and exercise, which can help reduce stress and increase overall wellbeing.
Employees save money on transport (like taxi or bus fare), gas, and meals when they work from home. Depending on how far away they live from the office, remote work can save employees from adding hundreds of unnecessary miles each week and can even reduce vehicle maintenance bills. They also do not have to shell out money for expensive work clothes, since most remote companies have a more casual dress code.
A reduced level of stress leaves remote workers healthier than their counterparts in physical offices. On top of this, persons working remotely have more autonomy over their day and many choose to incorporate exercise and movement into their schedule. Everything from taking a stroll in the park to doing a quick workout during a break is possible when you are not stuck in an office for eight hours.
Working from home also means that employees have access to home-cooked foods instead of takeout and processed meals. Healthier eating, in addition to increased movement, is a major benefit of working from home for many who prefer a remote work environment.
Remote Work Cons
Increased Need for Self Discipline
Employers need to ensure that employees have a high level of self-discipline and focus. One way to do this is to use time tracking or share sharing software. This allows employees to work without interruption while giving management a glimpse into their daily routine. It’s also advised that companies conduct training programmes on time management and productivity to help employees better understand how to manage a remote work environment.
Dependence on Technology
Remote workers depend on the internet, email, mobile phones, and laptops to get their work done. In the event of a power outage, damaged device, or other tech-based problem, employees may be unable to fulfil their tasks – completely outside of their control. Companies must be prepared for technical failures and devise plans for how these failures will be handled.
It’s also important that any remote company have a dedicated cybersecurity team to ensure the safety and confidentiality of all company servers and databases.
Lack of Employee Social Interaction
Remote work can be isolating. Employees do not get the chance to have an office social life and interact with co-workers, clients, and superiors face to face. If team members are unable to meet up during company events (in the case of an international team), then it’s advised that the company organises virtual team-building exercises. Employees don’t need to be friends – but they do need to develop a positive professional relationship to maintain the highest level of efficiency at work. Team building allows for remote employees to make connections with each other in lieu of physical events like picnics, team dinners, and sports days.
Now that you know the benefits and disadvantages of remote work, what’s the next move?
Now that we have examined the pros and cons, it is essential to note that this is just one step in the process. Deciding if remote work is right for your company is not a decision to be taken lightly since it can have far-reaching consequences for the organisation.
Internet giant, Yahoo!, suspended its remote work policy in 2013 via a memo – a move that shocked many outside the company. The memo, which was eventually leaked, contained information that revealed problems Yahoo! was facing with its remote work system. One section of the memo read, “Yahoo! isn’t just about your day-to-day job; it is about the interactions and experiences that are only possible in our offices.” To emphasise this point, another section read, “To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices.”
At the time, the world was perplexed by this decision, with Sir Richard Branson tweeting, “Give people the freedom of where to work & they will excel.” Many felt that if the outstanding Yahoo! could not pull off remote work, then perhaps the concept was a bad one in general. In 2013, Marissa Mayer, the CEO of Yahoo!, put an end to that discussion in a keynote at the Great Place to Work conference in Los Angeles. The CEO mentioned that the decision to suspend remote work was purely for collaborative reasons. Her sentiments were that remote work is not necessarily harmful in general; however, it was just not the right fit for her vision of Yahoo!. We learn from Yahoo! ‘s story that effective teamwork is vital, especially if your organisation chooses to work remotely. Collaboration can become more effective if communication is clear and frequent within the organisation.
Another company that suffered from poor coordination in its attempt to try a work from home system is Reddit. Former CEO Yishan Wong said in a Quora post, “What we’ve found is that remote work and multiple offices work for some people at some companies, some of the time. It’s entirely a pragmatic thing.”
Like Yahoo!, Reddit was looking to foster better communication and teamwork efforts but felt that a work from home system was not conducive for this. In his post, Wong further added, “As it turns out, our teams (within each office) and remote workers did good work, but the separation has kept us from effectively being able to coordinate as well as we needed”. The company issued an ultimatum, urging employees to move back into the office by the end of the year or receive a three-month severance package. The move was viewed harshly in the media at the time, but Reddit felt this action was necessary for the company’s strategic goals.
On the other hand, Twitter is an example of a company that is thriving while working from home. Its CEO, Jack Dorsey, sent out an internal memo in 2018 encouraging them to work from home after he had experimented with the concept himself. In 2020, Jack Dorsey put out a statement making the move to remote work a permanent one. This decision was sped up by the pandemic, however, Twitter was on course to announce this. One executive stated, “We’ve already been on this path, and the crisis just catapulted us into a future state. The future of work is offering employees more optionality.” Twitter is an organisation that is clearly reaping the fruits of remote work and is an excellent example for companies looking to make the transition.
What to Consider Before You Go Remote
If you have decided that remote work is suitable for your business, you’ll need to decide whether to switch to a fully remote or hybrid working style. Here are a few of the main points to consider:
Your Company’s Industry
Which industry does your business fall under? Countless businesses can telecommute easily due to the nature of their work. It’s not just the IT industry that favours telecommuting opportunities. Industries like human resource and recruiting, accounting, law, marketing, nonprofit, and travel have also joined the bandwagon. At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, several companies were forced to switch to a remote working arrangement, proving that the concept was always possible.
You need the right technology to make sure that work is running smoothly at all times. Many companies hire professional software consultants to help them determine which systems are necessary, how to use them, and, if necessary, how to build them.
But, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel, so you’ll likely be able to find tools that can benefit your team in the ways you need. For example, there are free video technology platforms like Zoom and Google Hangouts that can be used for team meetings. Other tools like Slack, Asana, and Monday.com are great for project management and collaboration.
Managers need to be skilled in best practices for working with remote team members. Remote workers do not have the same needs as workers in the office. Managers may have to go the extra mile to be clear about the timeline and requirements of a project to get employees to work efficiently. They should also put systems in place that allow for effective team communication, such as regular check-ins and meetings. While employees may not need travel allowances, managers may need to take into consideration coverage for expenses such as new devices, internet bills, and equipment.
Working from home comes with its challenges; hence employers need to adopt a flexible mindset and be prepared to handle any issues that may arise. As mentioned previously, challenges such as technical difficulties or family emergencies can arise and must be considered. A company needs to put systems in place to handle these unavoidable interruptions.
Employers also need to be clear about work requirements. For example, some companies require employees to be online and working at specific hours of each day. Other companies are comfortable allowing employees to work how and when they can, as long as their tasks are completed on time and proficiently.
Company Policy Updates
If you want remote work to be a permanent part of your business operations, your company policies need to be adjusted accordingly. As part of developing these policies for a work from home environment, it will be beneficial for employees to have a hand in developing them. It’s best to include members from each department that can echo the sentiments of their colleagues and will provide a good representation of the company as a whole. It is also essential to communicate with employees throughout this process, so they are aware of how these policies affect them both in the long and short term.
Conducting a Trial Run
If you are an organisation that has never tried remote working, a trial run is 100% necessary. Slowly implement remote work for three months, using this time to consistently collect feedback from employees. Pay attention to what they have to say and take their comments into deep consideration. Ultimately, going remote should be a positive experience for both the company and employees alike.
You can also use a test run to gauge the level of productivity to determine if a drop in productivity occurred during the process and, if so, how this can be corrected.
Article by Remote Worker
Remote Worker is the UK’s leading job board for Remote Working professionals. A jobsite that harnesses artificial intelligence and programmatic media buying to match quality candidates with remote-centered employers, as well as, providing expert insights and valuable support for organisations that are embracing remote teams