With the world moving into another phase of the pandemic, it’s no surprise that an increasing number of companies are joining the remote work revolution.
From flexible schedules to access to a broader talent pool, remote working offers several benefits to employees and employers alike. However, it also comes with particular challenges like decreased collaboration, employee isolation, etc.
In this article, we’ll look at 12 pros and cons of remote working. Then, we’ll discuss five best practices to maintain a healthy remote working environment.
This article contains:
(Click on the links to jump to a specific section)
- 12 Definitive Pros and Cons of Remote Working
- 6 Key Pros of Remote Working
- 6 Major Cons of Remote Working
- 5 Best Practices to Maintain Efficient Remote Teams
Let’s get started.
12 definitive pros and cons of remote working
Working remotely has made life easier for both businesses and employees, and it’s evident with the number of companies capitalizing on remote work setups.
According to Global Workplace Analytics, nearly 68% of surveyed employees have been successfully working remotely, which could be the future of work.
With this in mind, let’s discuss the pros and cons of remote work.
6 key pros of remote working
Working from home has changed the way companies and employees perceive work culture, and there are many advantages to a remote working policy.
- An efficient horizontal work model.
- A substantial savings on time and costs.
- A better work-life balance for employees.
- A boost in employee productivity.
- A healthier lifestyle for employees.
- The capability to hire talent from anywhere in the world.
Let’s take a look at these in detail.
1. Helps save time and money
Having employees work remotely has some fantastic time and cost-saving perks for your company.
Not paying for office space saves money for employers, and not having a daily commute saves employees time and money. It also reduces expenses such as equipment maintenance, utilities, and other overhead costs that would otherwise be applicable.
It also does away with additional time and costs associated with long-distance business travel and accommodation since most meetings happen over video calls in remote teams.
2. Provides a better work life balance
Remote work does away with the usual morning routine of getting ready for work and then commuting in jam-packed traffic.
Instead, employees can spend more time with their family and loved ones while also finding time to engage in new hobbies and interests.
It helps them maintain a healthy work-life balance, leading to happier employees.
What does this mean for your business?
When employees are happy, they’ll be more satisfied with their work.
As a result, they are most likely to stay with your company, making employee retention a breeze. You’ll also notice improved productivity levels in these employees.
3. Boosts employee productivity
When employees have a great work-life balance, it positively affects their overall productivity.
Office spaces do seem productive, but they also contribute to many distractions.
The tendency to take coffee breaks or get interrupted is far lesser at home. There are fewer distractions like watercooler chats, and since a remote job may offer flexible work hours, employees can meet deadlines feeling relaxed.
Employees also tend to take lesser leaves since they don’t get as stressed or burnt out working from home.
4. Promotes healthier employee lifestyles
A work from home job benefits employees’ personal life and health.
Maintaining a nutritious diet and regular exercise can be difficult when you have the added constraint of traveling to work. And more often than not, having to buy takeout isn’t always the healthiest option.
On the other hand, planning out your workday and living healthier contributes generously to overall productivity. It also plays a vital role in decreasing the number of leaves employees would take.
Healthier employees also directly translate to reduced healthcare insurance costs for employers.
5. Allows you to hire better talent globally
A remote working environment enables companies to hire full-time and part-time talent with almost no restrictions geographically.
Being able to hire talent from around in the world has many advantages, such as:
- Diversification of your workforce and increased cultural literacy.
- Various regional and cultural backgrounds help promote creativity and innovation.
- Global reach that helps promote brand recognition.
- Improved quality of hiring.
A diverse workforce’s perspectives and personalities will bring fresh approaches and values to your workplace.
Now, let’s look at the cons of remote working.
6. Helps maintain an efficient organizational model
Telecommuting has pushed organizations to adopt a more horizontal approach to hierarchy when compared to the vertical process, which has been the norm for an office environment.
Because meetings and other discussions happen over video conferencing, employees also learn to communicate efficiently to avoid unnecessary misunderstandings.
The horizontal approach to an organization model allows for easier accessibility and communication between various employees of an organization irrespective of their position. Everyone feels equally essential, and it promotes efficient workflow.
6 major cons of remote working
There is always a downside to something good.
Many disadvantages dismiss remote working as a viable option for many industries.
Some of these include:
- A reduction in teamwork.
- The inability to socially interact.
- The need for high levels of discipline.
- A heavy dependency on technology.
- A tendency to be overlooked for promotions.
- The need to cope with unforeseen management issues.
Let’s take a look at these in detail:
1. Decreased teamwork
A significant con of having your team split across various locations or even working remotely is decreased teamwork.
A remote team may not be able to get in touch with each other as frequently. This can cause delays in deadlines, miscommunication, and frustration in general.
A reduction in teamwork can also reduce employee engagement, affecting overall productivity.
2. Reduced social interaction
A home office or a remote setting with reduced interaction can lead to boredom and feelings of loneliness.
Unlike in a physical office setting, coworkers can’t interact with each other casually, and even if they do, it’s usually for work.
It can get frustrating and lead to burnouts, adversely affecting employee mental health.
3. Increased need for self-discipline
An employee requires a high level of self-discipline when working remotely. A simple distraction can hinder productivity.
Some of the most common distractions a remote employee faces are:
- Taking care of dependents.
- Household chores that overlap with office work timings.
- Constant notifications on social media.
As an employer, it can be strenuous to ascertain whether an employee would meet company standards while working remotely, making the hiring process difficult.
4. Escalated technological dependency
Another disadvantage of moving to a remote working lifestyle is a significant reliance on technology.
An internet connection issue at your home or remote working space can cause interruptions to work.
If a component on your PC or laptop fails, you have to either drive to or get a technician to fix it, which could leave you out of work for a few days.
Additionally, power outages can leave many people unable to work or even connect online.
All of this can negatively impact the quality of work, attendance, and the ability to meet deadlines. In severe cases, this may also lead to employee termination.
5. Missed promotion opportunities
Due to the Covid pandemic, companies facing financial difficulties are holding back promotions and appraisals or downsizing their workforce.
This makes it challenging to deal with employee assessments.
With an increase in collaboration between companies and teams, the productivity of an individual remote team member can become ambiguous since there is little to no face-to-face interaction.
This can make it harder for managers and supervisors to assess which employees deserve a promotion or raise.
6. Overloaded management responsibilities
While working from home sounds less hectic, you can expect some crucial challenges.
Employees will have to learn to use technology and software they may not have used before. They’ll need to provide equipment and devices depending on the type of work, which can have significant logistical implications.
Some departments, such as IT, may also face difficulties managing employees’ technical issues since most of these have to be resolved remotely.
Now that we’ve discussed the pros and cons of remote working, let’s look at how you can maintain a thriving remote working environment.
5 best practices to maintain efficient remote teams
Investing in the right tools and software programs for your teams make it far easier to maintain working arrangements for your employees.
You can also track productivity, company expenses and manage clients from anywhere in the world.
Let’s look at five of the best practices for a smart remote workforce.
1. Choose the right software
When it comes to choosing software programs for your remote working teams, it is essential to consider:
- How well they integrate with other software programs.
- How different groups will use them.
- How prompt customer support is for each software program
Here are a few software programs to keep things running smoothly.
A) Messaging software
B) Project management
C) Video conferencing
Zoom and Google Meet are two of the most popular video conferencing apps out there. They are available on both mobile and desktop, allowing users flexibility.
D) File management
Google Workspace (Google Docs, Sheets, and Drive) is a good solution to file management. Using the Drive, employees can share files automatically between relevant team members without worrying about unauthorized access.
2. Effective communication protocols
Open lines of communication are a vital factor in how well a distributed team can work together in a remote setting. But, it is also essential to lay the groundwork and protocols for communication.
- Setting up software programs for messaging and sharing documents and video conferencing for effective communication and increased productivity.
- Scheduling specific hours when a team member contacts others sets a clear boundary between work hours and personal time.
- Monitoring the frequency and duration of communication between employees can give insights into how internal communication can be more optimized.
Setting these ground rules will ensure smooth communication between remote and hybrid work teams, especially those working from different time zones.
3. Tracking employee time and productivity
Keeping track of your employees’ work hours helps you understand their productivity levels and monitor progress for individual tasks.
Want to keep track of your remote employees’ worktimes and productivity?
Time Doctor is a robust employee time tracking and performance management tool used by major companies, like Ericsson, and small businesses, like Thrive Market, to boost productivity across the board.
Some of the key features of Time Doctor are:
- Tracking employee work times manually or automatically.
- Generating productivity reports for company and employee evaluation.
- Screencasts employee computer screen at regular intervals.
- Managing your projects and resources.
Time Doctor also has a Chrome extension that allows employees to track time on third-party apps with ease.
You can also learn more about Time Doctor’s other helpful features.
4. Maintain social interaction
It’s a good idea to maintain social interaction between your employees to keep their spirits up.
Organizing group video calls and virtual team-building exercises can be an excellent way to learn more about each other and keep employee interaction high.
Employees can also use co-working spaces to stay socially active.
Occasional meet-ups with employees living in the same city or area are also a healthy method of interaction. However, always keep your local Covid guidelines in mind while stepping out.
5. Understand and support your remote employees
Talking to your employees individually and getting to know them personally helps keep their morale up.
It helps you understand the different situations your employees might be in, and in some cases, you can even lend a helping hand.
Understanding and supporting your employees can lead to much happier workers, resulting in a healthy work environment.
It’s clear that remote working offers some fantastic benefits, but it also has obvious downsides.
While newer businesses with modern infrastructure can cope with a remote workforce, traditional offices might not function remotely simply because they may not have the infrastructure to support them.
If you are considering a completely remote setup for your business, you can overcome most of the cons by keeping our best practices as a guideline to manage remote workers.
Liam Martin is a co-founder of Time Doctor which is software to improve productivity and help keep track and know what your team is working on, even when working from home.