Remote Work: Is it Possible to Keep it Forever?
In the beginning of 2020, a majority of the workforce was plunged into the fresh experience of remote work. This meant that everyone had to learn pretty rapidly how to stay productive when working form home, from managing your time to picking your workspace – most of us discovered pretty quickly that our best work is not done in bed!
Two years on, with the COVID-19 pandemic slowly sating, businesses are bringing their staff back into the office. In many cases this is in a hybrid model – such as the 3 days in office versus 2 remote model we have here at HR Technologies – whereas others are back in the office full time.
The question must be raised, however: do they have to be brought back at all?
According to PwC, 32% of workers want to work from home five days a week. This compares to only 17% wanting to work from home less than one day a week, or be in the office full time.
Of course, 100% of workers would also like to double their pay – just because employees want it, doesn’t mean it’s feasible. There are plenty of businesses for whom fully remote work just won’t fly.
Still, it’s estimated that 16% of companies worldwide are still fully remote as of March 2022, a figure that is larger than many would expect.
There are a great number of positives for fully-remote businesses. Here are just a few!
- No Commute – Unless employees choose to work in locations separate from their homes, commutes are effectively eliminated. This allows them either to catch up on a bit more sleep or to get a little more personal time in the evenings. Even if it’s only half an hour, it makes a huge difference! (Plus, you’ll find lateness will be significantly reduced when trains, buses and traffic aren’t involved!)
- Work Anywhere – Of course, workers don’t have to do their job from their living room. A work-from-anywhere policy means that employees now have the fresh option of a working holiday: the same hours, the same work, but done somewhere a little sunnier with the sand between your toes.
- Recruit Anywhere – It’s not just employees who aren’t bound to their homes. The lack of a headquarters allows employers to recruit globally, allowing for much wider, more diverse talent pool.
- Home Comforts – Working from home allows you to have your own coffee, your own sofa and your own music played out of your own speakers. This gives each employee the opportunity to customise their work environment to whatever suits them best, rather than the cookie-cutter experience of the office.
- No Office Costs – The overheads associated with running a physical location can be pretty steep. Rental of the space, office management – not to mention all the tea and coffee – adds up. The money saved on these costs can be used to set staff up with an excellent WFH tech.
- Flexibility – By far the biggest benefit offered by remote work is the flexibility it offers. This means that parents can pick up children form school or look after them while they’re sick while others can attend doctor’s appointments or receive important deliveries without having to miss work. Ultimately, it helps maintain the work/life balance that is so vital to the workforce today.
We won’t pretend that it’s all sunshine and rainbows. There are, of course, a few drawbacks to remote work that can be difficult to ignore.
- Communication – It gets tougher to have streamlined communication in a remote set-up. Where in an office you could turn to the person next to you to ask a question, in the days of remote it requires an email or a video meeting, slowing down the process.
- Trust – Despite 77% of workers saying they’re more productive when working remote, many managers get concerned that they can’t keep an eye on their staff when they’re not in an office. There are, of course, employee monitoring tools, but sometimes these can create a feeling of a lack of trust, leading to a slightly soured environment.
- Culture – It gets more difficult to build a company culture when everyone is in a different place. You can’t have water-cooler conversations or spontaneous post-work drinks, decreasing the opportunities for more meaningful working relationships to be built. Fully remote companies must work harder to fill the social calendar in order to create these opportunities.
- Time Zones – If fully remote companies make the decision to employ workers from around the globe, they sacrifice the defined workday that comes from working in a single time zone. If a British company hires an Australian, these time differences have the potential to considerably hamper the speed at which work gets done.
- Blurring of Work and Home – A lack of an office and a commute can make it hard to feel a difference between being at work and being at home. Sometimes this can lead to burnout as communications continue into the evening and the weekend.
It’s true that fully remote work won’t be manageable for some businesses. But, there are many for whom it would be far better than they’d expect. For one thing, remote workers have been found to save businesses $7,000 a year on average, and 74% of workers say that having the option to work remotely will make them less likely to leave a company.The main hurdle businesses face when considering remote work is the implementation of systems that will help their remote operations. Fortunately, there will be a wealth of remote-focused businesses at HR Technologies in May 2023, so if you’re considering leaving the physical office behind, be sure to attend!