Remote work has become more prevalent in recent years. There has been a 50% rise since 2012 in companies that have the majority of their teams working remotely. With 10% of companies already operating without any office space at all, it is hard to imagine work conditions of the future adhering to the traditional offices spaces of the past.
The shift towards employees working from home only once or twice a week to exclusively remote teams operating from the cloud is mainly driven by those who desire flexible work arrangements. These in turn enable better work-life balances. Although this may be the main factor, there is the question of the consequences this has for businesses. Are remote employees as productive and engaged as your in-office workers?
The Pros and Cons of Office Working
According to Global Workplace Analytics less than 3% of the United State’s 120 million office workers work from home. The popular open plan office spaces have increased productivity and collaboration between colleagues. Also, according to Marissa Meyer, Yahoo chief, “People are more productive when they’re alone, but they are more collaborative and innovative when they’re together.”
In the same vein, it is believed that employees are more easily engaged when working from a central office. Doing so allows for greater ease in receiving performance feedback and enhances the development of a workplace culture with shared common goals and values.
The ability to communicate with colleagues face-to-face and share common experiences in the workplace encourage a more positive attitude at work. Additionally, getting along well with peers while having a supportive environment to work in encourages better employee retention. People are more likely to stay if they feel supported and happy at work.
That said, on the flip side, insisting employees work from the office impedes your ability to access global talent while increasing your costs for employees that must travel long distances to reach the office and external meetings. Restricting work to the office can also quash individual creativity, comfort, and can even increase employee turnover.
The Benefits of Remote Work
Remote work increases productivity thanks to the lack of office distractions. Removing these impediments to efficiency means remote workers are able to accomplish more in less time. 82% of remote workers reported lower stress levels and a study by PGI found 80% reported higher morale and 69% took less time off.
By having fewer people in your office, operating costs are also dramatically reduced. A Forbes study of flexible workers found that large companies like Aetna save tens of millions of dollars each year in office space costs through their switch to semi-remote workforce policies.
It’s debatable if remote workers are more engaged than their office counterparts. However, as the plethora of technological tools carries on multiplying, the options available for workers to stay in touch and feel connected to the company could be making a difference. A study in late 2016 found that 87% of remote workers felt more connected thanks to video conferencing applications.
Undoubtedly, studies on remote workers’ productivity and the technology used to support this phenomenon will carry on for some time. In 2017, 23% of employees reported doing some of their work remotely as compared to just 19% in 2003. With these results in mind, it is clear that remote working is in a least some part the way of the future.