Weighing up the pros and cons of remote work
Remote working has become the new norm for modern companies and their employees. Over two-thirds of companies(74%) plan to permanently shift their employees to remote work after pandemic restrictions have settled.
In a recent poll I ran on LinkedIn, I also got a first-hand view into how most employees feel about the concept of not having hybrid work as an option in the years ahead. Ultimately, people expect to have more freedom in how they work, and where they work from. However, the transition to this new working world might not be as simple as we assume.
Despite countless organisations and analysts sharing insights into the benefits remote work can bring, many companies are still investing in rapidly bringing staff back to the office. Google started re-opening its offices in April, announcing that employees hoping to stay WFH may have to apply to do so. Amazon also issued a statement saying it was planning to return to an office-centric culture.
So, are the benefits of working from home enough to push companies of all sizes into the future?
The Issues for Business Owners
Like most business transformation strategies, remote work has its pros and cons for any business. On the one hand, you’ve got the promise of better productivity, improved employee engagement, increased access to talent, and lower office overheads. On the other hand, business leaders are dealing with increased demand for cloud technology, higher security risks, and even the perpetuating concern that remote staff may not be just as cost-effective as their peers.
Some companies have fully embraced the concept of remote work as the cure many complex business problems. Other brands say that they’re actually losing money by switching to remote work. After all, while it’s easy to focus on things like reduced office expenses and lower demand for in-office technology, there are some costs involved in migrating to a new way of work.
Companies without existing remote working policies are having to rethink their entire business strategy, investing in new VPNs, stronger connections for remote workers, enhanced cloud technology, and video conferencing equipment for staff. Those costs add up.
Combine the costs of staying connected in a hybrid and remote world, with challenges like managing and supervising remote teams, and maintaining company culture, and it’s easy to see why some businesses still aren’t convinced.
So, What’s the Solution?
Ultimately, companies can’t afford to simply ignore the remote working revolution. We’ve come too far now to return to a world where everyone works from an office 5 days a week. As I mentioned above, employees are demanding a more flexible working environment. Any employer not willing to offer new opportunities risks losing their best talent to the competition.
However, that doesn’t have to mean transitioning to remote work completely – at least not straight away. The hybrid approach could be the ideal solution for those not ready to make a more comprehensive change. Hybrid working models provide today’s business leaders with the ability to access the best of both worlds.
With a hybrid strategy, you can give employees access to remote working opportunities, when they’re appropriate. At the same time, you open the office environment up to people who simply can’t work remotely. After all, there are tons of employees that simply can’t operate from a remote location, whether it’s a point-of-sale operator at a retail store, or an on-site engineer.
The ideal workplace is one that allows companies to offer heads-down, back-end employees who already work through the internet a chance to operate from wherever they choose. However, this landscape will also provide opportunities for heads-up staff members to perform in an environment they feel comfortable with.
Of course, implementing the ideal hybrid working model will come with some challenges to consider too. In this landscape, you have both the costs of your in-office overheads, and the expenses of remote working to consider. It’s this concern that’s generating conversations about whether governments should be weighing on to help businesses handle the costs of transitioning to the new working model.
Building the Right Working Future
There are many questions to answer in any business before the transition to the new world of work can be fully implemented. It’s not as simple as just allowing employees to continue working from home. Business leaders will need to think about budgeting in a new way.
Questions emerge such as: it fair to adjust employee salary when offering greater flexibility? For instance, should you paying more for an employee in London, than one who works remotely?
There’s a fine line to walk between keeping costs low, and keeping employees happy.
Rob Scott, June 30, 2021