As we continue to navigate the changes to business that have occurred over the past few years, it’s clear that remote work has become a new norm for many. The remote work paradigm shift has changed the entire culture of work for two primary reasons. First, it allows employees to work from the comfort of their own homes, saving time and money (and the environment) on their daily commute. Second, remote work can cut down on certain office expenses, like supplies and utilities, for the employer.

Just because it’s currently a red-hot topic among business analysts, HR professionals, and employee advocates, however, that doesn’t mean remote and flex work is right for every business. Let’s explore some key factors to consider when deciding whether to implement remote work policies at your operation.

Pros of Remote Work

As you might suspect, there are numerous benefits to remote work, including:

  • More Flexibility – Remote work allows employees to have greater control over their work-life balance. Many remote and flex workers are given some freedom to adjust their schedules to fit their personal needs, which can result in a huge boost in job satisfaction for professionals leading busy lives.
  • Savings – The direct savings made available for workers facing long commutes are obvious, but that’s not the only financial benefit of remote work. By eliminating the need for physical office space, employers can also save on rent, utilities, and other office-related expenses.
  • Access to a Wider Talent Pool – When employers get on board with the remote work revolution, they can hire employees from anywhere in the world rather than being limited to a specific geographic location.

Drawbacks of Remote Work

Of course, remote work isn’t a perfect solution. Every business is unique, but drawbacks of remote work may include

  • Communications and Monitoring Challenges – It can be more difficult to communicate effectively and track employee workloads when everyone is logging in from separate locations. Collaboration and teamwork can also suffer without a good technology framework in place to keep everyone connected virtually.
  • Isolation – Working from home can be freeing for many people, but it can also be isolating, particularly for employees who live alone. This can have a negative impact on the mental health and morale of certain workers.
  • Technology Issues –Remote work is very susceptible to technological hiccups. When technical difficulties do arise, it can be challenging to get the IT support needed to resolve the issue because your employees and equipment are scattered rather than all being together at a centralized office.

Key Remote Work Factors to Consider

If you’ve been considering whether remote work may be a solution for some or all of your employees, keep these factors in mind.

Consider the Nature of the Work

Not all positions are well-suited for remote work. This is true even in companies where the remote work model might be great for most employees. Certain key roles that require face-to-face interaction with clients or in-person management of sensitive equipment are likely better suited for the traditional office setting.

Communication and Collaboration

When poorly implemented, remote work models can create a lack of communication and collaboration, leading to issues like confusion, duplication of effort, or missed deadlines. To mitigate these risks, businesses must ensure that their remote team members have the necessary tools (often in the form of software and cloud-based services) to collaborate effectively with you and with each other. For example, you might implement video conferencing software to conduct team meetings and one-on-one sessions or instant messaging tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams to check in throughout the day.

Productivity and Motivation

Due to the lack of direct oversight, remote work may have a negative impact on employee productivity and motivation for employees with certain personality types, leading to decreased output and quality of work. To avoid this, businesses can offer opportunities for professional development and training for team members who are struggling with the transition to remote work and consider implementing flexible work hours to allow remote workers to manage their time as effectively as possible.

Are You Going Remote or Going Back to the Office?

While remote work is growing in popularity and offers many benefits to certain types of employees and businesses, it won’t be suitable for every situation. By carefully addressing the key factors outlined above, businesses can determine whether remote work policies are a good fit. Consider the nature of each employee’s role, your overall company culture, and the preferences of employees, and your company can make an informed decision that works for everyone involved.

For more information about current business trends and hiring insights, consult the Stang Decision Systems blog.