For over two years now, the desire to work remotely has continued to grow. People now know that they can be just as productive, or even more productive, at home as they were in the office. With this in mind, more and more companies have offered hybrid and remote opportunities to stay competitive in a candidate-driven market.
With the end of the pandemic in sight, business leaders throughout the country are contemplating bringing their employees back to the office. The question is: will remote employees entertain the idea of going back?
Before making this decision, employers must weigh the advantages and disadvantages that remote work has brought to their company. Let’s start by looking at a few advantages of remote work.
While it may have come as a surprise to many, remote workers discovered that they were just as productive, and in many cases more productive, at home as they were in the office. In fact, a Forbes study from 2020 says that teleworkers are 35-40% more productive than their office counterparts.
Cuts costs for employees and employers
From a financial perspective, both employees and employers can benefit from working remotely. Remote employees save money on gas and reduce the wear and tear on their vehicles. Remote employees can often save money on nicer work clothes due to more relaxed dress code policies.
Employers can choose to downsize their office space, or even go completely cloud-based. By doing this, companies can spend less on wages by hiring workers from cities that have a lower cost of living. Upwork found that employers can save anywhere from 21% to 60% on wages if they open their doors to virtual employees in areas with a lower cost of living.
Improved work-life balance
Over the last two years, many people have realized the importance of their mental health. Remote work has been directly associated with an increased work-life balance. Remote employees no longer have to commute to work, so they are able to spend that time doing whatever they please. This is a huge perk for many remote employees. According to Gallup, 91% of workers in the U.S. are hoping their ability to work at home persists after the pandemic.
Technology has adapted
When the pandemic began, employers had to find a way to communicate with their employees, track employee time off, and process payroll to maintain the level of productivity prior to the pandemic. After two years of remote work, many companies have adopted technology that would allow their workforce to continue remote work indefinitely.
While remote work does have its advantages, there are also disadvantages that employers must consider heading into the post-pandemic workplace.
Less informal conversation
While remote work may allow employees to spend more time with their families, it reduces the number of informal conversations among coworkers. Remote employees have to schedule a time to have informal conversations with their peers, rather than walking around the office to talk to each other.
This may leave some employees feeling disconnected from their coworkers. For those who thrive working solo, this may be more of an advantage than a disadvantage. But, for those that seek a stronger camaraderie with their coworkers, remote work can lead to employees feeling isolated.
For some employees, working longer hours isn’t a big deal when they work from home. Business Insider reported that remote workers claim they work over 40 hours per week 43% more than on-site workers do. While working longer may be a good tradeoff for some, others may find it becoming a problem.
Distractions at home
Working from home allows employees to get chores done in their spare time. While many employees can handle their free time well, others can find themselves getting distracted and disengaged from their work. In order to combat disengagement, remote employees should dedicate a workspace that limits the number of distractions throughout their day.
When working in the office, managers typically walk around to check in, brainstorm, and collaborate with employees. While remote workers can use an instant messenger to talk to their manager and peers, this isn’t typically used for long, drawn-out messages. Instead, more meetings have to be scheduled.
Remote work comes with both advantages and disadvantages. With the end of the pandemic in sight, employers are contemplating whether or not they want to require employees to come back to the office. Before making the decision to bring employees this decision, it is important to consider some of the points listed above.