Remote working is not a new term for employers. The current health crisis has just pushed the discussion further on having a remote workforce
A few months ago, allowing employees to work from home was optional for businesses.
The COVID-19 crisis has forced employers to consider remote working to remain in business.
The changes are so sudden that many employers are still struggling with the required adjustments.
Is it a good or bad thing to allow employees to work from home? Should business owners consider the same after the crisis is over?
1. Increased productivity
One of the highlights of the discussions on remote working is that employees encounter distractions at home.
However, most remote workers understand the demands of working from home. Employees know the changes necessary in their environment to work effectively.
In fact, the office environment sometimes offers more distractions including unplanned meetings, movements, and announcements.
While working remotely, employees can choose the most productive hours in their day when they can work with minimal distractions.
The result is higher productivity, which is good for business.
2. Longer working hours
Tied to higher productivity is additional working hours that many employers hope for from their employees.
Workers spend hours on the road due to heavy traffic during rush hours. Unfortunately, most of them cannot escape the daily nightmare on the roads.
Remote working minimizes movements. Most employees turn the extra time into working hours even without realizing.
For mobile app developers, extra working hours are always welcome.
3. Reduced costs
Hiring a new employee means setting up a fully equipped workstation that probably did not exist.
The business covers the cost of setting up and maintaining the workstation. Sometimes labour costs are higher than revenues from some employees.
In times that an economic downturn is expected, maintaining the office setup is not only expensive but also risky.
Bear in mind that transactions have declined across all sectors. Business owners are staring at declining revenues without an end in sight.
Remote working is an advantage for businesses because employees meet most of the costs.
All businesses have to deal with now is paying salaries and ensuring that employees remain connected in terms of communication lines and the internet.
Let us face reality. It will take some time before everything falls back to normal. In fact, we must brace ourselves for a new normal.
The advantage of remote working is that it is easy to scale the workforce.
Employers can reduce or increase the workforce depending on the situation at hand.
An alternative is to change the nature of engagement while considering the welfare of employees such as reducing the number of working hours.
Employers can then adjust working hours or even hire new employees when revenues begin to increase.
Remote workers have the option of working more than one job. Hence, they are less likely to leave or terminate their contracts because of such changes in working hours or salaries in a recession.
5. Access to expert skills and talent
Remote working opens a business to a global tank of skills and talent in all fields. A business can hire anyone from any location or country with the necessary skills.
Such talent is inaccessible for a physical office setup. A firm can choose to hire experts for a specific task or period.
A large pool of talent also means that employers can negotiate for the best deal.
Highly skilled employees demand high salaries and benefits that businesses can hardly keep up with when in a crisis.
The global market also provides talent that is unavailable or limited in the local job market.
6. Fewer absenteeism cases
Employees get tired of the daily routine of commuting to and from work. Some of the reasons for absences from work are poor.
Luckily, with remote working, employers have fewer requests for off days to deal with within a month.
Remote workers have more control of their work engagement. Hence, they can easily take some hours off where necessary and resume without disrupting the workflow.
Sometimes all a worker needs is a few hours of rest and not a full day off.
Remote workers have flexible working hours. The level of flexibility here depends on the nature of the job.
For instance, for mobile app developers like Muva, collaboration is essential throughout the day.
Even with such jobs, employees still have a flexible schedule. Virtual teams can choose the most convenient times to collaborate or hold meetings.
The basic assumption is that remote workers are always working from home. Well, in times of a crisis like the COVID-19 crisis, that is expected.
In normal situations, employees can move from the home office to any other location like a quiet library to work.
The result of such flexible is improved employee satisfaction, which in turn leads to reduced turnover.
A business achieves all this while saving costs, which is good for any company even after the COVID-19 crisis.
1. Poor relationships and collaboration
Even with the best of technologies, virtual teams lose some aspects of healthy relationships.
In fact, remote workers are at a high risk of social isolation. Think about demanding jobs like software development that require hours of concentration.
Programmers may spend days indoors until a project is complete.
Poor internet connectivity might also interfere with collaboration among team members and with their leaders.
Employers must consider such challenges and advice their employees on steps to take when collaboration issues arise.
Remote workers need constant reminders to balance their work with social events and outdoor activities.
2. Cybersecurity issues
Data security is a major concern for employers, especially when employees are abruptly sent to work from home.
Employers have little control over the internet providers that workers choose.
Public unsecured networks are a major threat to a company’s data security. Hence, the preparation period for remote employees must include data security.
Employees need the training to differentiate between secure and insecure networks.
The training should also include steps to take in case employees suspect a security breach.
Simple lessons like creating strong passwords and keeping them a secret are equally important.
3. Lack of trust
Some business owners have a hard time trusting remote workers.
Although, the employees may participate in online discussions and video conferences, it is hard to verify their commitment to work.
The problem may not arise with employees that just transitioned from the office setup to remote working.
However, hiring new remote employees comes with trust issues. It takes a while before employers can trust them with some details about their business.
Remote workers must work hard enough to eliminate such issues. An easier way is to have occasional physical meetings with remote workers where possible.
Nevertheless, running a business involves taking risks and hiring remote workers is one of them.
Remote working has various benefits for businesses as outlined in this article. However, the concept works differently depending on the type of business. Some firms must maintain a physical office or production unit. If your business allows, a shift to remote working might be the best thing you can do to survive the COVID-19 crisis.