Remote Work: Pros, Cons, and Common Problems


Remote Work: Pros, Cons, and Common Hurdles to Overcome

Working remotely allows employees to complete their daily tasks in an alternative off-site workspace. Remote work can be an effective, and often preferred, substitute to the traditional office space while allowing employees to maintain the roles and responsibilities that their employers require. Remote work enables employees to work from their homes, at co-working spaces, or from abroad.

Advantages of Allowing Remote Work

There are several notable advantages to remote work for both employees and employers. For example, remote work allows companies to collaborate with teams from all around the world, creating a dynamic work environment, while each employee can continue working in an environment that best suits their work style.

How Remote Work Can Reduce Your Company’s Costs

There are three key ways that allowing at least some of your team to work remotely can improve your team’s productivity or business’ bottom line.

  1. Increased Productivity.
    The vast majority (more than two-thirds) of companies report improved productivity from their team members who move to a remote work plan and studies run by Best Buy and Dow Chemical estimates that their remote staff became 35 to 45 percent more productive after making the switch.

    This could be due to the fact that many folks working from home have a tendency to work for at least some portion of the time they would otherwise spend commuting.  In fact, AT&T estimates that their remote team member spend five more hours working per week than their in-office team members.
  2. Reduced Overhead Costs. 
    The expenses associated with having and maintaining an office space are either reduced or eliminated by having employees work remotely. For example, by implementing remote work, Aetna, a large company that specializes in selling insurance, was able to shed 2.7 million square feet of office space, thereby cutting the annual running cost of their company by about $78 million.As Global Workspace Analytics has recently reported, if a typical SME allowed their employees to work remotely for only 50 percent of the time, they could cut costs by around $11,000 per year. This is because by decreasing or eliminating the expense of real estate, companies also save, by extension, on the cost of utilities, property maintenance, custodial services, and supplies. 
  3. Improved Recruitment and Retention. The vast majority (80 percent) of workers consider the option to work remotely a job perk and 36 percent of the workforce state they would prefer the ability to work from home over a pay raise.  

    Allowing interested team members to work remotely is also a great way to reduce attrition.  Two-thirds of employees have considered taking a new job to shorten their daily commute, and 14 percent have already changed employers at least once due to their commute.  It costs thousands to hire and train a new recruit, without even considering the long-term risk of allowing excellent talent to leave the organization.

Common Problems With Remote Working (and How to Overcome Them)

There are a few common hurdles and worries that may cause companies to hesitate when considering remote work. Perhaps one of the most common difficulties that companies notice when transitioning to remote work is impeded communication.

Without face-to-face contact with colleagues or clients, free-flowing collaboration or correspondence may become hindered without proper organization. However, this can often be easily remedied by emphasizing video conference calls as opposed to slower forms of communication, such as e-mail.

Another concern that companies may face involves the inability of employers to monitor employees’ productivity accurately. One way to head off this possible issue is to adopt productivity software such as Trello which allows employers to send out tasks to employees that can then be “checked off” once they have been completed.

Additionally, programs such as Harvest enable employees to log their daily operations and the amount of time they took to complete. Then, employers can track, from afar, areas where employees may need help, further training, or areas in which employees are particularly skilled and efficient.

The final concern commonly voiced by businesses considering a move to remote work is the difficulty of building and maintaining their organizational culture when informal conversations or “watercooler talk” is eliminated.  Ultimately, there is no reason why you can’t develop a strong culture while some or all of your team is working remotely, but it will require conscious effort. 

We have seen our customers employing several tactics to ensure that their remote workers remain connected with the rest of the team on a personal level:

  • Schedule regular social video calls where there is no business-related agenda.  The focus is purely to give people the chance to connect and build relationships.
  • Mandate a minimum number of days that remote team members must work from the office. If remote workers spend just one day per week in the office they will be able to schedule their collaborative and social work on the day(s) they are in the office while focusing on “head down” work while working from their home office. In these cases, most organizations are providing several hotelling stations to be shared between all remote staff.

How Does Remote Work Benefit Employees?

Increasingly large numbers of employees prefer to work from home due to its tendency to better accommodate their schedules without sacrificing their quality of work. Additionally, remote work also allows companies to outsource low-demand jobs or highly specialized positions that may be difficult to recruit for in your town or city.

A 2019 State of Work Productivity Report showed that 65 percent of full-time employees believed that remote working would lead to an increase in productivity. This notion was supported by more than two-thirds of managers reporting an increase in overall productivity from their remote employers.

Further studies have indicated that 80 percent of employees who have the option to work remotely reported higher morale, 82 percent said it lowered their stress levels, and 62 percent reported a decrease in absenteeism.

Remote work is also an excellent solution to the stress that elderly, injured, or otherwise, less-mobile workers may face in embarking on a daily commute. Remote work allows these employees to avoid this unnecessary strain of commuting to the office, without falling behind on their work.

Eliminating your team’s daily commute is also beneficial for reducing your company’s carbon footprint.

Is Remote Work Right for Your Company?

Remote work is a growing trend in the modern workforce and is a tried and proven alternative to traditional office work. Providing employees with this non-restricting option of completing their regular tasks at the location of their choice will often lead to increased productivity, reduced annual costs, and overall employee satisfaction.

If you think remote work is not the right cup of tea for your company, check out another one of our articles – ‘5 Office Design Trends for the Post Pandemic World‘ to help create a safe and productive workspace for your team to return to. 

Read about more of the latest trends in the office world in our whitepaper guide, Office Trends to Know.

Cory Porteous
Director of Marketing & Inbound Business Development
Office Interiors

New call-to-action