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Remote Work Pros & Cons: Does It Work for You and Your Team?

by Jorge Suazo, on Dec 10, 2020 10:34:35 AM

Chances are you came across this blog post while casually scrolling through LinkedIn on your smartphone. Or perhaps a  colleague forwarded it to you between (or during) Zoom meetings. Maybe, you're researching ways to improve your organization's operations because managing remote teams has become part of the “new normal” and remains a significant challenge.

Almost everyday there’s a new poll or survey asking if people prefer or like remote work – but is it even a yes or no question? For most people, it's a mix of good and bad. For leadership teams, the challenge is more difficult as they must consistently weigh the pros and cons of hybrid work to:

  • Understand its impact on employee morale.
  • Support a work-life balance.
  • Increase employee engagement to drive productivity.

Showing up to the office and clocking in from 9-5pm is no longer an acceptable form of measuring productivity. Finding a work-life balance is not easy when homes double as offices. Staff morale is now gauged using webcams and microphones, hindering leaders from anticipating worker burnout and stress.

Global Workplace Analytics expects 25-30% of the labor force to work from home multiple days a week by the end of 2021, and research gathered by Zapier found 66% of knowledge workers expect the traditional office setting to be obsolete by 2030. Working remotely, telecommuting, work from home -whichever way you want to phrase it- is no longer a trend. It’s here to stay.

What are the pros and cons of remote work?

To understand employee motivation, we should recognize the many coinciding pros and cons of remote work:

Pros Cons
Flexibility for families in dual careers, allowing spouses to pursue lasting careers without having to sacrifice one another. It eases the pain of looking for two jobs in one location. (HBR) Each family member might have to work on a completely different time schedule. As remote teams become more global, employees have to adapt to time zones beyond Eastern, Pacific, etc. (Zapier)
Increased job satisfaction and improved work life/balance as some cite a better quality of life. Proximity to family, ability to enjoy warm weather, traveling opportunities are mentioned as a few reasons. Both managers and workers worry about the potential for loneliness to be experienced socially and professionally. Videoconferencing check-ins don’t allow for reading body language and expressions. Colleagues are less likely to become close friends due to lack of interaction.
Improved cost of living as workers are able to move out of expensive cities and metropolitan hubs towards suburbs and small communities, reducing financial stress for families and individuals. Performance evaluations which tend to be closely tied with compensation have become more difficult to assess. Metrics like interpersonal skills are now more subjective than before. Increased electricity and internet bills also balance out rent/mortgage savings.
Research has shown remote workers to be more productive, as highlighted by a study performed by Stanford with U.S. government workers. Seeing an increase in individual productivity of 4%. Is the increase in productivity due to an increased workload? Studies by the National Bureau of Economic Research have shown significant increases in meeting times, internal emails and average workday. (Washingtonpost)

 

Maximizing employee productivity may come down to the successful implementation and execution of the hybrid work model, where some employees work onsite, others remotely, and some alternating between the two.

It’s been proven to work. A Stanford experiment conducted with the United States Trademark and Patent Office (USPTO) saw an improvement in organizational productivity of 13% when employees opted in to work from home policies. Individual productivity also increased by 4.4%, as measured by number of patents examined per month. After nine months, those who chose to stay remote were 22% more productive than they were before the experiment, suggesting individual workers know and should determine what suits their work style best.

Selecting a Work Model Tailored to Your Workforce

Today, the USPTO embraces the hybrid work model and consistently ranks among the highest on the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government Survey. This speaks volumes of the model’s effects on employee productivity and motivation. Although there are lists of remote work pros and cons, selecting the right balance of remote and onsite work is imperative. This shift has permanently altered the mindsets of leadership, operations of organizations, and the future of work.

The hybrid work model is here to stay and can offer a lot of new opportunities to the workforce. Part of successfully employing this new way of work is regularly assessing the benefits and drawbacks – How are the benefits aiding employee satisfaction and productivity? What are you doing to combat the drawbacks? It’s not as easy as acknowledging them. How can you take it one step further?

Accelare’s SAFE Return to Work program’s solutions and services have been explicitly designed to assist organizations in their return to the office and promote embracement of the hybrid work model. Both our patented Strategy-to-Execution framework (S2E) and commitment to helping organizations unlock workforce productivity enable companies to transform their existing business and organizational models. Feel free to check out the rest of our articles for more tips, best practices, and insights in our SAFE Return to Work blog series.

Topics:Digital TransformationThe Future of WorkCOVID-19SAFE Return to Work

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