When you think of remote working, your first instinct might be to assume that it’s perfect for you and your team. After all, who enjoys commuting in peak-hour traffic, spending time away from family and friends, and spending hours each day locked in an office cubicle?
Working remotely offers numerous benefits: reduced costs from not needing an office; increased productivity from being able to spend more time on tasks instead of traveling to and from work; more flexibility for employees with families or partners; and a happier workforce that isn’t stressed about their commute or other factors related to the rigors of working by traditional office standards.
However, remote environments aren’t always as rosy as they seem at first glance. Depending on your business’s specific needs and goals, remote work may not be the most suitable option for you. Here are some things you need to consider before making your final decision:
The first (and most crucial) question to ask yourself when deciding whether remote working is suitable for your team is whether your employees are equipped to work remotely. Remote work relies heavily on both written and verbal communication, and the effective management of expectations. If your team members struggle in these areas, remote work may not be the best fit for them.
For a truly remote working environment, your employees will need to be kitted out with their work laptops. It may be that your team already has its own dedicated, portable workstations. However, if your business is still running on desktop PCs, this could be an issue. For starters, these computers are inexorably tied to your office headquarters. On top of this, laptops don’t come cheap, and opting for entry-level models is a false economy — tech moves fast, so be prepared to pay top dollar for your employee’s devices.
Aside from the hardware requirements, you’ll also need to consider the software needs of a remote working setup. Plenty of free communication software solutions exist — Slack, Microsoft Teams and Zoom are all perfectly viable (and free) options for team meetings or quick huddles. However, what about managing holiday allowances, tracking productivity, or working collaboratively? Many of these SaaS providers will expect a monthly fee for their usage, so you’ll need to factor this into your budget too, should you plan on going remote. We’ve written before on how to effectively manage a remote team, so check that post out for more information.
Remote workers have a lot of freedom that on-site employees don’t get: they can set their schedules, choose where they work, and take breaks whenever they need to. However, from a management perspective, this might not be desirable.
Can your current employees be trusted to remain productive? How can you be sure they’re working and not binging Netflix on company time? Of course, it could be argued that if you’re already incapable of trusting your team, restructuring may be a necessity, but it’s completely understandable for these fears to manifest if your business is new to remote working. In cases where you suspect your team’s productivity may suffer, it may be necessary to require all employees to manually log their time, either through Google Calendar or a paid service, such as Float. And while these aren’t fool-proof solutions, they will make it far easier to identify situations where your workers aren’t being completely honest about their work schedules.
Switching to a remote work environment, however, will dramatically improve your hiring pool since you’ll have access to the best applicants around the globe. In the past, employing workers in another country was technically possible, but today’s technology makes it a comparative breeze. Better yet, by using an employer of record service like Remote, there’s no need to worry about the logistical aspects of HR, taxation, or payroll — that’s all taken care of as part of their EOR offering. This way, you’re released from having to deal with any logistical nightmares, and better equipped to provide your new employee with a smooth onboarding experience.
The benefits of remote working for your employees are relatively obvious. For starters, by offering a completely remote environment, you’re setting them free from the relative confinement of the office. No traffic jams on the daily commute. No temptation to grab an overpriced, unhealthy meal in town instead of preparing a healthy packed lunch. The option of a hard-earned lie-in over being packed like a sardine into a cramped train. The list goes on.
However, you must bear in mind that not all employees will appreciate being forced out of the office. While the majority of workers appreciate the option of working from home occasionally, the consensus is that a hybrid approach is better for both employers and employees. Why? In a single word: culture. Despite the initial elation felt by the working masses upon being handed the freedom to work from the comfort of their own home, we all still prefer the option to pop into the office now and again. There’s no replacement for the buzz of friendly office banter, conversations by the water cooler, or that Friday feeling of strolling out of the office at the end of the week.
So, while the potential benefits for your team might seem obvious, it’s important to acknowledge that many of your employees may miss the office. Before making any big decisions, it’s worth getting a sense check on how the business as a whole feels about going fully remote — if the issue is too contentious, you may have to rethink your plans.
Still undecided as to whether your business should adopt a fully-remote working environment? It’s important to look at the big picture. Yes, the benefits of remote working are obvious, but there are drawbacks. Before you make a final decision, make sure you’ve considered all the facts and weighed up the pros and cons. Only then will you be able to make an informed decision on whether remote working is right for your company or not.