It’s 2023; workplaces have changed forever since the pandemic and the discovery that employees do not need a shared space of four walls to work productively. When the world was thrown into lockdowns during 2020/2021, businesses had no option but to trust their employees to work remotely without a lingering watchful eye. Desks were carried home and Zoom became our new best friend!

As the economy attempts to build back better than pre-2020, businesses have never had more pressure on them to support flexible ways of working. The jury is out and so are the workers! The stats show that 90% of job seekers list remote working options as a top priority (HRD, 2022). If you are not offering remote or hybrid working options, you will be sure to fall behind! Read on to discover the advantages and disadvantages of implementing a remote work policy.

Benefits of Working Remotely

Improved well-being of employees – studies indicate that 92% of employees with the option to work remotely indicate a higher quality of life and reported feeling happier overall (Flexjobs, 2020v).
Home can be a great place for contemplation and creativity without constant interruptions (providing the space is set up correctly), thus resulting in greater productivity and more innovative ideas for the business.

Higher levels of motivation – employees feel respected, valued, trusted, and empowered to work autonomously without being micromanaged.
Integration of work-life balance – working remotely means employees do not need to worry about making the school run and managing being at work at the same time. Work-life integration means everything can fit cohesively.

Decreased number of sick days – studies show that flexible working opportunities decrease the number taken overall.

Flexible working hours – with increased companies recruiting on a global scale the office is no longer 9 am – 5 pm. This allows for a greater talent pool to be generated.

Businesses can save on overheads by not having dedicated business premises.

A focus on outcomes – quality over quantity. Trusting your team means trusting their time too. Greater ideas are more likely to thrive when employees feel trusted.

Remove that commute – employees save up to 2 hours plus a day with the removal of their daily commute. This leaves more time for that morning gym routine, the school run, or even cooking a hearty family dinner instead of an over-reliance on convenience and processed foods.

Challenges of Remote Working

Always on’ working – employees may find it difficult to separate work from home due to the shared space and the mindset that comes with that. They may have a bright idea at 8 pm in the evening and rush to the computer to action it.

Integration of work-life balance – this can go both ways!

How do you monitor productivity? We are all human after all – how do we know our employees are doing what they say?

Privacy Regulations – Many organisations have implemented monitoring systems that track how much time employees spend at their computers – where do we draw the line here and how do we move forward with challenging low productivity outcomes?

Missing personal connections – Working without physically being around others can lead to a loss of our human needs through a lack of collaboration, connection, and cooperation.

Delayed feedback loops through global time zones.

Overreliance on DM’s – without being able to ‘pop in for a chat’ there is a large reliance on communication channels like Slack or Teams. This can lead to lower levels of productivity through substantial amounts of notifications causing a distraction from focused work.

Lack of Non-Verbal Communication – Managers and employees may miss important nonverbal cues regarding decision-making, task competition and overall feelings of well-being.

As a business, whether to implement a remote working policy takes a lot of thought and consideration. It is not an overnight decision, and it is important to include your workforce. Thoughts towards the longevity and sustainability of the policy need to be given, as does the impact this may have on overall business productivity and success. Buy-in needs to come from the employees and change management support may be advisable for promising integration. However, when completed thoughtfully, businesses can thrive in the ‘new normal.’ Either way, remote working is here to stay and is essential for tomorrow’s workforce.

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Nilesh Jha