With the rise of the internet and affordable consumer electronics, it is no wonder that telecommuting is growing so rapidly in popularity. Everyone already knows the benefits of working remotely for the workers themselves:
- Zero commute time or cost
- You get to work in your pajamas
- Flexible hours
- More time for family
- Less drama and office politics
- No boss hovering over you all day
But what are the benefits for the employer? And what are the potential drawbacks that remote working presents? Below are five pros and cons of remote working that employers will need to consider when deciding whether it will work for their organization.
PRO—Employees Tend to Get More Work Done
One of the biggest complaints office workers have is that they always feel like their boss is hovering over them, always micromanaging and looking for a reason to punish them. That causes unnecessary stress and reduces productivity. So by simply getting out of their way and letting them work, you are likely to see good workers become even better.
PRO—Reduced Office Space Saves a Lot of Money
This is huge. This right here is a good indicator or what the future holds for office work environments. First, it was the music stores shutting down and moving online to save money. Then it was the book stores. Today it’s the retail stores, and tomorrow it will be the office buildings. Get used to it.
PRO—Telecommuters Take Less Sick Days
There are two reasons why remote workers call in sick less often. First, they aren’t coming into contact with other sick people as often. Second, even when they are feeling under the weather, they tend to squeeze in a few hours of work since they work at home anyway.
CON—Monitoring Work Activity and Progress Can Be Challenging
This is the biggest challenge that managers stress out about when considering telecommuting. How will anyone get any work done without you cracking the whip all the time? Honestly, most office employees enjoy being productive and accomplishing their objectives. If they slack off a lot, it’s probably because they are intimidated by their work and aren’t sure what to do or how to do it properly, so they get bored and wander the office or head to social media. If you find that your remote workers aren’t hitting their numbers, try talking to them about it. Get their input. Get to the root cause and fix it.
CON—Teams Can Suffer from Lack of Interaction
Introverts love remote work, but some of your employees crave face-to-face interaction with their coworkers, even if it’s just to chat for two minutes while getting a coffee refill. One solution that might work for these workers is to allow them to work at a virtual office once or twice per week.
Virtual offices are actual shared workspaces that people can rent by the hour or by the month, according to their needs. Remote workers can use these spaces for working daily or occasionally, but your company doesn’t have to deal with the property space. You don’t have to worry about cleaning, maintenance, repairs, liability insurance, property taxes or any of that.
Your employees can pop in to use a virtual office meeting room too to hold meetings with coworkers, managers or clients. So this might be a sort of hybrid option that allows companies to decentralize and reduce real estate property costs while still getting the team together as needed.
In the end, it all boils down to two basic factors: cost and productivity. There’s really nothing magical about remote working. It offers great convenience, flexibility and freedom for employees, which often increases job satisfaction and retention.
For employers, the biggest benefit is the cost savings to the organization, which can be substantial. But the total impact on productivity is exactly what you would expect. Productive, introverted, highly-motivated workers will become even more productive and motivated, while slackers will slack off even more. That is why you need to implement objective standards for measuring progress—just like you already do in your traditional office setup.
Remote working is becoming very normal, and there is no reason why it will not become standard for all office workers in the future. But for now, only you can decide whether you want to go forward with it or not. Ideally, you’ll want to start by implementing remote work gradually, because there will be bottlenecks here and there as everyone adjusts to the new format. Then, once the kinks are worked out, you roll it out on a larger scale.