REMOTE WORKING – The Advantages of Working Remotely.
Nowadays it’s not important at all where you are physically located once you are connected to your network. The economic downturn during the last years contributes to more people becoming self-employed or preferring flexible working hours and work-life balance regime. Flexible workplace arrangements can be in terms of when one works, or how much one works (including time off after childbirth or other life events). They include a variety of arrangements such as job sharing, phased retirement of older workers, and telecommuting, that allow workers to continue making productive contributions to the workforce while also attending to family and other responsibilities. Telecommuting arrangements can vary greatly for different workers. They can be fully or partially remote, they could work from home, using co-working space or other location and be geographically distant from the organization or clients they serve.
Due to the report of work-life balance and the economics of workplace flexibility there are several trends the society could observe in the US market. For example, almost one fifth of the employed people are caregivers who provided cares to a person over 50. In the same time, half of the employers’ report that periodically they need to change the company starting and quitting hours.
We will try to define some of the most discussed advantages both for the organization and the employees:
The Advantages of Working Remotely.
Cheaper resources – the organizations receive the same talent pool and productivity without the necessity to pay for extra benefits like fancy office, additional benefits and facilities. Ware and Grantham believes that enabling employees to work remotely from home can reduce the company expenses with about 40-50 %. Working with contractors help to avoid the stress of fighting between the companies to retain their talents. In the same time, having people in-house is usually difficult for the companies among with developing programs to retain them.
Ensure diversity - Distributed work requires more discipline on behalf of the company and the employee in order to ensure they are getting all the benefits, but it is worth it when the company consider the diversity they reap. Differing opinions, viewpoints and work styles combine to make a better work environment and a group of employees who are more creative at solving problems and better at understanding their customers ‘needs.
Maintaining work-life balance – employees nowadays looking for remote work in order to coordinate all the social roles they should cover. The flexibility to work from home saves a lot of hours in driving and offering better work-life balance. In the same time, avoiding a commute can lead to big savings of both time and money. According to a study, people who work from home in Los Angeles, save around $510 annually compared to their counterparts who drive to work. Even those who work remotely half the time save around $255 per year. The average savings nationally rounds out to $222 to $444 for those working from home between 50% and 100% of the time (Salmon, 2018). These statistics highlight the not only the financial impact of remote work, but also the ecological impact of such measures.
Reduces company headcount – currently there are plenty of companies offering only remote work to their employees. We should say that this is easier in high-tech and software companies where it’s very convenient and common practice to work remotely. The increased use of remote work not only creates directly measurable environmental benefits, but its benefits are in many cases extremely far reaching and often only noticed after large scale remote work programs have been implemented. Fewer people in the workplace means less office space, which reduce the cost of the lease along with heating and cooling rates, lighting, and other expenditures. Thanks to remote work capabilities, some companies have now replaced their office rental with a virtual office agreement; this enables them to keep a commercial mailing address with access to meeting rooms and day office rental, without the long-term commitment or cost of a full-time office.
The employees are more productive and more focused– one of the main reasons why many companies switched to remote work is the belief that the employees will be more productive. There are plenty of researchers which show the advantages of working remotely and even some of them belief that work from home makes people even more focused and productive. Some studies define the direct benefits of working remotely such as improving productivity of employees. With productivity loss costing employers an estimated million annually and two thirds of employers reporting higher productivity of remote employees, remote work provides a huge win for the economy (and environment) at large. From environmental point of view if the work is done faster than the people will spend less time on front of computer. The next step will be automatization of the work;
Remote work improves morale and happiness - Productivity is rooted in personal wellbeing. A happier, fulfilled person is more likely to put in additional effort for your company — but fulfillment isn’t always related to pay or promotion . Giving employees the opportunity to work flexibly is equal to better work-life balance, more time with their families, and less commuting, which saves the employees time and money.
It helps talent acquisition and retention - Millennials, Generation Z value flexibility in the workplace. In the same time, more of the previous generations struggle to handle all the social roles they need to face. Companies that embrace remote working are in touch with their employees’ needs and requirements and are more likely to attract skilled workers from further field, given the reduction in leaving. Currently, more and more companies try to find the working and useful model for their employees in order to avoid dissatisfaction and losing of work motivation;
Flexible working hours reduces attrition. In addition to employee retention, flexible work is known to help reduce attrition in the workforce. As we already mentioned different life changes, social roles and life events as marriage, having kids require different life routine. The ability to have flexible working hours allow employees to reduce their level of stress trying to fit and find time for all the tasks they have during the day.
More autonomous employees - Giving the employees the ability to work from home allows them to operate in a way that suits them (Hunkeler, 2018). People can be very particular about how and when they like to work. In an office environment, all employees must adapt to the same working hours and daily routine. In the same time at home, they have much more control. Some employees will subscribe to the tidy office, or need to create a serene, spotless environment to be able to perform at their best. Other employees, probably those with a more creative mind, might do their best work on the sofa or even late at night. In such cases, the company needs to put certain rules in place, but within those guidelines, the team will have the freedom to create an environment and a schedule that allows them to perform at their best;
Use all the advantages of technology - working from home would be impossible without the technologies we can use today. Technology is the key to enhance mobility based on Wi-Fi connections, smartphones, and cloud computing, instant messaging and project management software. The temptation might be to think that a remote workforce is a disparate workforce, but given these invaluable tools, these days that’s simply not the case.
Keeping older generations at the labor market – the overall life expectancy increased worldwide which lead to increased cost of living. Based on that, many people over 65-67 years decide to delay retirement and prefer to work and have a fresh mind with long life learning. Based on some researches more than 70 % of the Americans want work flexibility.
Better health and less polluted environment – the average employee in U.K spends about 60-80 minutes getting and coming back from work. The telecommunication tools are great way for a company to become greener and to improve the employees’ wellbeing. In a 2014 study by PGi, a leading provider of software services, it found that 80% of remote workers reported higher morale, 82% said it helped lower their stress levels, and 69% reported lower absenteeism.
Some studies define the effect of remote capable employees working from home, and their results were particularly notable when it came to fossil fuel utilization. Working remotely reduced the consumption of gas by more than $20 million per year globally, but it also decreased the greenhouse emissions by 54 million tons annually and helped to save 640 million barrels a year of oil (Ripton, 2016). The increased use of remote work not only creates directly measurable environmental benefits, but its benefits are in many cases extremely far reaching and often only noticed after large scale remote work programs have been implemented. Despite the largely positive findings on the effects of telecommuting, just 7% of American companies offer the option to most or all of their employees, according to recent BLS data. Some early adopters—companies like Best Buy, IBM and Yahoo—are even reversing policies that once allowed employees to work remotely, citing leadership changes and a growing need for creative collaboration. In the same time, a handful of organizations are effectively using research insights to build evidence-based remote work programs. Health-care company Aetna, for instance, has a decade-old remote work program that screens, trains and supports teleworkers—a group that now makes up around half of the company’s workforce. The company has worked closely with psychologists at Cornell University to proactively address issues such as employee isolation and has seen rewards including reduced real estate costs and better talent retention.
In the same time, we should mention that there are still some prejudices or disadvantages about remote work. Some researchers mentioned that the lack of community and differences in the culture is one of the main topics. Remote work leads to lost face-to-face interaction and usually it is very difficult to substitute this by some activities. Video calls are just a way to improve it but it cannot replace the overall communication during the work day. Cross-cultural differences are another topic which is hard to cover if the company has remote working employees. Not only the lack of cross-cultural experience but in the same time the cultural barriers can be faced when you have remote workers all over the globe. Some tips how to avoid this is related to some certain steps. Having company gathering at least or even twice per year is useful way to getting know people better. Providing a basic knowledge and company fundamentals is also essential in order to avoid any misunderstanding and miscommunication.
The lack of communication is another trap in remote work. Every question and document should be approved online which is much easier when you are surrounded by your colleagues and can ask simple questions. Remote workers should balance variety of different and even overwhelming communication streams. There are plenty of communication channels that should be checked. Good practices how to avoid all that lead to having regular virtual meetings even with co-located workers. Implementing different project management tools and avoiding the e-mail spam as much as possible is another useful way. The lack of management in remote working teams can turn into low reliability and retention of the employees. Clear documentation processes and using content checking software could help in avoiding these trends. Keeping the company standards about performance management policy is also very difficult.
Providing a time-tracking and performance tool for remote workers can help management to observe and measure their data. Companies should build a culture of transparency by having clear career paths and working career development models.
Losing the interaction is another effect of the remote work. When the employees work from home, they don't have the benefits of employee interactions. People that work from home enjoy working in remote way. Don't work from home and don’t bring the home at work is just one of the rules that everybody should follow. Seriously endanger efficiency, synergy and collaboration is another side effect of remote working. When the idea of remoted team is considered, the biggest question arise is how employees will be able to get the work done. After certain period of usage of remote offices management ensure that people can complete the work. In the same time, it's hard to overstate the importance of collaboration and synergy within a team. These elements are the foundation of an employee's enthusiasm, passion, loyalty and sense of value to the company, and distributed staffs struggle with achieving these (WMtek, 2019).
Open Potential Security Issues. Security is often overlooked when a business decides to allow employees to work remotely, leaving the company vulnerable to cybercriminals. Although there are cloud options to make remote work easier, with today’s internet of threats, companies cannot afford to overlook protecting their confidential and proprietary information (Cohen, 2019). Loss of productivity and or even more loss of any kind of data could be a serious damage for the company. It could be case of data leaks or even employees stealing data. This could seriously affect the company not only money wise but could be crucial for maintain positive company reputation (Go, 2018).
Along with social isolation, keeping of work-family boundaries is a significant challenge for remote employees. Employees operating from a home office lack the physical and psychological separation between these two domains that exists in a traditional office setting, highlight Golden. For example, family and social obligations can easily affect working hours. But more often, studies show, teleworkers’ professional obligations tend to extend beyond the traditional workday, interrupting family time and preventing employees from being truly disconnected.