Remote work is a trend that has grown as more employees of all generations change the way they work. But working remotely at least part of the time works better in some industries than others: An information system manager is more likely to be able to work at home than is a retail store sales associate.
It takes a little planning and the right tools to build a successful remote office. It's clear that not every employee is overjoyed to work from home, so flexibility may be the best policy. Some workers miss in-person conversations, lunches, happy hours and the structure of office life. More than a few people get stressed when their kids can interrupt them at work, and others even miss the reading they got done while commuting. And not all home setups are suitable for remote work.
Having remote workers will affect your business in good ways and bad. Most significantly, many businesses find that it streamlines productivity and business growth. But there are other benefits that remote worker employers discover:
It's becoming harder to secure talent, so offering telecommuting helps you entice the best employees. You may be able to cut your business's turnover rates by offering remote work, because even if employees relocate, they will still be able to keep working for you.
You'll see cost savings if you're able to downsize your office, lowering utilities and rent.
Sitting at the same desk day after day can stymie creativity. Working remotely means being in a setting that encourages standing, stretching and taking little walks.
Remote employees were able to produce more work per week, according to a Stanford study — the equivalent of an additional full shift. By limiting distractions and not chatting with co-workers, it's possible to be more productive.
Remote work can save employees from chronic stress and may improve their personal lives. A Gallup report says 53% of employees value a position that promotes work-life balance.
Remote work is more accommodating to flexible schedules, meaning it could lead to more engagement at work. Employees won't need to be stressing over when to get personal tasks done.
What are some of the sticking points of remote work?
It can limit engagement in some cases: Without the office environment and the in-person interactions with co-workers, some remote employees may get lonely, resulting in lower engagement.
Employees miss the cooperative feeling of being in a workplace with colleagues, and you may feel the same way.
The loss of boundaries between work and home means a lot of employees are working more hours from home.
It's difficult to remotely orient new hires to their roles. The biggest challenge of remote onboarding compared to traditional in-person methods is that it's more difficult for a new hire to get a feel for an organization's culture and its people from behind a screen.
A Gallup study found that engagement is highest when employees adopt a hybrid model, partly in the office and partly remote. One option is desk sharing — George uses a workstation on Mondays and Fridays, while Martha takes it on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Modern technology enables many companies to shift to a remote work model. And even if a 100% work-from-home workforce isn't for you, you may want to adapt to a percentage of your workforce going remote. You'll have to weigh the challenges of managing remote employees with determining whether your business is equipped to offer this benefit.