Visas and Work Permits — 4 min
Once upon a time, remote work was reserved for only a few. The vast majority of companies had zero plans to let their employees work from home.
Due to the pandemic lockdowns in 2020, however, many companies had no choice but to adopt changes in their work culture. Alongside that, cloud technology made it possible to normalize remote work on a larger scale.
As a result, remote work has evolved from a sporadic perk to a mainstream and often essential mode of working for many individuals and organizations.
This article delves into the multifaceted realm of remote work, shedding light on its myriad benefits for employers while addressing the challenges that come with it.
Understanding these dynamics can help companies harness the true potential of remote work and foster a more productive and harmonious work environment.
Remote work arrangements offer a range of advantages for employers. Here are just a few:
A remote workforce allows companies to reach and access a wider pool of potential employees because location isn’t a barrier to hiring. In fact, six out of ten decision-makers say the number of quality applicants per open role has increased since their company joined the remote work revolution.
WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg efficiently summarized this benefit in a TED Talk, saying, “In Silicon Valley, the big tech companies fish from essentially the same small pond or bay. A distributed company can fish from the entire ocean. Instead of hiring someone who grew up in Japan but lives in California, you can hire someone who lives, works, wakes up, and goes to sleep wherever they are in the world.”
Remote work allows employers to offer flexible work schedules. And with greater flexibility, employees can shape their schedule around personal responsibilities and commitments, helping them achieve better work-life balance. This increased control over their time often leads to fewer instances of unscheduled absenteeism due to personal reasons.
Remote workers also avoid the time-consuming daily commute, which can also lead to tardiness or absenteeism due to transportation issues, traffic, or weather conditions.
Arguably, remote work’s most evident cost-saving aspect is not needing physical office spaces. With employees working from home or alternative locations, companies can downsize their office footprint and save money on rent, utilities, maintenance, and office supplies.
Startup developer platform Lemon.io says shifting to remote work can save companies $10,600 per worker annually. Cost savings include annual savings of $5,580 on an office rental, $2,121 on utilities, and $1,300 on coffee and snacks, as well as a $1,600 one-time expense on desks, chairs, and laptops.
Whether natural or man-made, disasters can disrupt business operations and pose significant challenges to companies. In 2022 alone, the US sustained 18 weather and climate-related disasters costing $177.3 billion.
A remote work policy ensures that employees can continue working even when the physical office location is inaccessible due to a disaster. This lack of geographic constraint also reduces the risk of all employees being affected by the same disaster simultaneously. As a result, disruption to daily operations is minimized, and revenue streams are preserved.
International hiring gives companies access to candidates from diverse cultures, backgrounds, and demographics. This means that companies can find and secure specialist talent that may have been inaccessible to them before.
A diverse workforce can bring a wide range of perspectives, experiences, and ideas for problem-solving and better-informed choices. It also reduces the risk of biases or oversights.
Giving employees the flexibility to work remotely, especially in their preferred location, can significantly boost their engagement. When employees have the autonomy to choose where they work, they often experience higher job satisfaction, a stronger sense of ownership, and a deeper connection to their work and the company.
On the other hand, remote-capable, on-site employees who are not allowed to work in their preferred location are less engaged and have higher rates of burnout and a bigger desire to quit.
A remote work policy can improve employees’ perception of their jobs. As such, the company is more likely to retain its top talent.
Joining the remote work revolution helps reduce a company’s carbon footprint in several ways, ultimately leading to a more sustainable and environmentally responsible business operation.
The COVID-19 lockdowns led to a 30–38% reduction in carbon emissions from commuting. That said, experts have a simple advice: work from home if you can.
In addition, fewer employees in the physical office can lead to less electricity and heating fuel consumption.
Remote work enables companies to transcend time zones. Businesses with a distributed workforce can provide services during non-traditional hours, catering to customers from various regions.
With a workforce that spans multiple time zones, employers can experience quicker turnaround times on projects and tasks. Uninterrupted operations can be especially beneficial for the customer support, tech assistance, and e-commerce sectors.
Fifty-six percent of teleworkers find working from home conducive to meeting deadlines.
For one, remote work encourages effective communication through digital platforms, reducing the need for lengthy in-person meetings. This streamlined communication approach saves time and allows employees to dedicate more time to actual work.
In addition, remote employees can control their work environment to minimize interruptions and multitasking. Remote work often reduces exposure to distractions like office politics, enabling employees to focus on their tasks.
Remote work provides benefits to not only employers but also employees. Here are just a few of these perks:
Commuting to and from the workplace can have a substantial impact on employees’ physical and mental health. Not having to commute to work is a key employee benefit of remote work. Not only does the lack of a commute save time, but it also means no traffic, transportation delays, or related stressors.
A 2023 study found that remote work saves workers an average of 72 minutes on their daily commute. Respondents said they allocated 40% of this saved time to work-related activities, 34% to leisure, and 11% to caregiving.
Remote work enables employees to create a work environment that suits their preferences, comfort, and productivity.
In the same vein, flexible work arrangements give employees more autonomy over their work processes and schedules. This empowerment can lead to improved morale and a greater sense of ownership. So it comes as no surprise that a flexible work arrangement is the third most popular reason workers search for new jobs.
Remote work enables employees to align their schedules with their personal commitments and goals, which may include spending more time with family or staying on top of health issues.
More than six out of ten employees say they prioritize jobs that offer an improved work-life balance over those that promise higher pay. In contrast, only three out of ten favor better pay over a favorable work-life balance.
Remote work offers numerous benefits, but it also presents several challenges for employers. Here are some of those issues and ways to navigate them:
Internal communication strategies for a distributed work model remain vague for 71% of companies.
Challenges in communication can indeed be a significant hurdle for employers implementing 100% remote work arrangements. The physical separation of remote teams can lead to various communication issues that, if left unaddressed, can hinder productivity and collaboration.
Solution: Establish clear communication channels, encourage regular video meetings, and use collaboration tools such as Slack or Microsoft Teams. Setting expectations for response times and arranging regular check-ins is also vital.
Building a cohesive team culture and fostering strong relationships among remote team members can be challenging. After all, face-to-face interaction promotes a strong camaraderie among team members. In fact, 41% of workers avoid working from home to feel connected to their co-workers.
Solution: Implement team-building initiatives and facilitate regular virtual team-building sessions. You can also consider occasional in-person meetups or retreats to strengthen employees’ personal connections.
Effectively measuring employee performance in a distributed work model is a concern for more than half of companies.
This data is unsurprising as the physical separation between remote workers and managers can make it challenging to gauge productivity. This lack of direct supervision can lead to uncertainty about whether employees are fully engaged during their work hours.
Solution: Shift the focus from tracking hours worked to measuring outcomes and deliverables. Set clear performance expectations, establish key performance indicators, and use project management tools to track progress.
A lack of face-to-face interactions can lead to misunderstandings regarding roles, responsibilities, and performance standards.
The definition of “availability,” for instance, can differ between employers and employees. Employers might assume remote employees are always reachable during their work hours, while employees may value workday flexibility. This can lead to misinterpretations and conflict.
Solution: Establish clear and measurable goals, communicate performance expectations, and encourage regular feedback and performance reviews to ensure everyone is on the same page.
While remote work offers flexibility and comfort, it can also introduce an environment filled with potential interruptions to employees’ productivity.
The most common distractions during remote work include social media scrolling (74.7%), household chores (71.6%), and online shopping (69.6%).
Solution: Set clear expectations for remote work, including specific work hours, response times, and communication protocols. Well-defined guidelines can help employees structure their day and stay on track. You can also recognize and reward employees who consistently demonstrate productive remote work habits to motivate the team to maintain their focus.
As businesses continue to navigate the ever-changing landscape of work, integrating remote work policies can emerge as a strategic move. Remote work not only benefits employers in the short term, but also sets the stage for long-term success and growth.
The ability to offer remote work options showcases a company’s adaptability and commitment to modern work culture, ultimately fostering a more engaged workforce. Indeed, a remote work model leads to higher productivity, access to a global talent pool, reduced overhead costs, and improved employee satisfaction and retention rates.
Find out more about the rise of distributed teams in our 2023 Remote Workforce Report.
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