While many organizations still resist work-from-home arrangements, those who embrace remote work have discovered that distributing a company’s workforce comes with many benefits — like substantial savings in real estate, equipment costs, and other overhead, just to name a few. Going remote also allows for organizations to hire talent from around the world, giving the business access to a broader and more diverse talent pool.
Employees benefit from remote work arrangements as well. According to a recent report from Remote.co, employees who get to work remotely tend to be happier and more productive, and they don’t quit their jobs as often. They also get to save some money themselves on things like gas, parking, and public transit.
The Challenges of Remote Work
All of which isn’t to say that remote work comes without challenges. For example, those who cannot self-start will struggle working on a distributed team, as will those who are prone to overworking themselves without someone around to put on the brakes. Time zone complications, local income tax hurdles, and other geographic variances can also make distributed teams harder to manage.
Sara Sutton Fell, founder and CEO of Remote.co and FlexJobs, notes that isolation can also be a challenge for many employees. Working from home without the communal space of an office can make employees feel disconnected, disengaged, and demotivated — unless leaders step in.
“Managers can be watchful for isolation by engaging with employees regularly — invite them to quick coffee chats, [instant message] with them throughout the day, and introduce them to other people in the company,” Sutton Fell says. “Establishing this regular communication and also setting expectations for work goals can help with some of the other challenges associated with remote work, such as self-focus and time management.”
Often, managers fear that they won’t be able to properly supervise distributed workers. However, these fears should be allayed by technology solutions that allow managers to easily communicate with workers and track deadlines and project goals.
“Managing remotely is a bit different than managing in house, but thankfully, the skills that make really good [in-office] managers can also make really good remote managers,” Sutton Fell says. “The main difference is that remote managers need to shift in management practices to rely less on visuals and more on proactive communication, regular check-ins, goal-setting, and results-focused management. The best remote managers trust their teams to complete their tasks while practicing strong communication skills.”
The Benefits of Remote Work
More often than not, however, business discover that the benefits of remote significantly outweigh any hassles or complications that might arise.
“When employees are able to work remotely, they spend less time sitting in traffic and less money on gas, they have more time with their families, they’re less stressed, and in many cases, they’re actually more productive than when they were in the office,” Sutton Fell says. “Distributed companies can see reduced turnover, improved productivity, reduced real estate and operating costs, a lowered carbon footprint, and more satisfied workers.”
The technology already exists to make remote work the norm. The question is, why isn’t your company letting people work from home yet?