For employers: The pros and cons of remote working
A quick scan around your favourite coffee shop or restaurant and you’ve probably noticed a number of people who have settled in for the long haul with laptops aglow and a steady supply of their fuel of choice, from cappuccino to cold brew and everything in between. Working remotely once meant that you needed a replica office set up in your home. But nowadays there is plenty of work being done from the couch, co-working spaces, and, of course, coffee shops, in almost any industry or profession.
If you’ve been thinking about adding remote work options for your team, it’s helpful to consider some of the biggest benefits, as well as the potential negative impact or consequences it may have. The following are the top pros and cons of working from home.
Benefits of remote working
Hire for fit, regardless of location
One of the most appealing benefits of having a remote workforce is that you can tap into a talent pool that extends well beyond the limits of your local city and surrounding area.
With the capacity to operate with team members working anywhere, employers have the opportunity to hire the best fit for the role without worrying about expensive relocation costs for new hires from different locales.
Run a leaner, more productive organization
It’s hard to find fault with any initiative that positively impacts the bottom line. In addition to saving on relocation costs for new hires, employers with a remote workforce either have reduced or nonexistent costs for things like leased office space and utilities.
Offering remote or flexible work schedule arrangements also means that your team is logging in their most productive hours of the day and not wasting time on lengthy commutes or breaks within a regular nine-to-five day.
Increased employee engagement and retention
Research tells us that more people, especially Millennials, want flexible work options that provide a good work-life balance. For many people, the appeal of not having to commute back and forth to the office is huge.
In addition to greater balance and reduced stress, employees who work remotely have a greater sense of autonomy and agency in their roles. As a result, they tend to feel more engaged and satisfied with their work, which leads to increased productivity. Engaged and satisfied employees also tend to stick around longer, reducing costs associated with replacing and training new employees on a regular basis.
Cons of remote working
Can be challenging to keep employees motivated and focused
While there are certainly distractions within the office too, remote work demands more discipline and self-motivation since supervision and time management tends to be more indirect. When hiring for remote roles, look for self-starters who can manage their workload with minimal supervision or direction.
Stay connected with remote staff by scheduling regular check-ins via phone, instant messaging, or video conference. If possible, have at least one annual event where the whole team gets together. It’s still important to create opportunities to create meaningful connections between team members. According to a recent survey , Robert Half Canada found that 26 percent of remote workers felt isolated and missed out on being part of a team. Be sure to provide your remote employees with the tools they need to stay connected and tuned in.
Need to invest in collaboration or monitoring software
To reap the positive effects of increased autonomy and engagement, trusting your remote team is paramount. Having said that, it is also important to ensure that work is being completed efficiently and effectively. Invest in communication tools that make it easy for remote employees to check in regularly and access important information.
Project management or monitoring software can facilitate collaboration on projects, assign and track time spent on tasks, and provides team members with status updates and a list of outstanding tasks to help keep the work flowing smoothly and fruitfully.
Must create a workplace culture that is both here and there
It can be challenging to align team members when they are working in different cities, time zones or even different corners of the globe.
When you have remote employees, you need to ensure that everyone is equally immersed in the company culture and brand identity, so that there is clarity and consistency across service standards and project execution. To achieve this, start by communicating the organization’s values and mission during your onboarding process. Provide clear expectations and directions for how your team members are expected to deliver work that reflects those values.
Communicate regularly with your entire team and provide timely updates on key performance indicators within the context of your organization’s specific definition of success.
For remote working to work, flexibility and strong communication are key. But the end result for both employers and employees can be extremely beneficial and rewarding.