There has been a significant transition, one that has moved many away from the office and into the home. This dispersal of professional spaces is leading to a substantial discussion as some call for greater independence of employees and others seek to reunite teams in a central location, with many businesses experiencing a resulting divide.
It is fundamental that businesses recognise what works for their operation. There is no ‘one-size fits all’ method. Instead, business leaders and managers must understand the pros and cons of remote working, considering how they might apply to their teams and tasks.
One of the biggest benefits described by remote employees is work-life balance. This describes an employee’s ability to better manage their schedule, being free to divide their responsibilities more evenly, so as to reduce stress and improve their productivity. Being free of the need to commute while also being able to complete professional tasks on one’s own time empowers employees and allows them to manage their schedules more effectively.
The concern of this endeavour is that employees will demonstrate lessened productivity, that, perhaps, given the opportunity to work with greater independence or out of immediate watch of management will enable them to neglect responsibilities.
This belief, however, has proven to be false and early studies are demonstrating that the opposite may be more likely, with employees letting their professional responsibilities run over into personal time, inevitably leading to burnout.
Since the initial surge in remote working uptake, businesses have sought to investigate the productivity of their employees, with a number of modern corporate training courses discussing the various circumstances that can affect employee output and reliability. One of the most common resolves was that promising businesses ensure that the premise and outcome of a task were made clear, allowing employees the independence to accomplish this responsibility their way bears little to no impact on an operation.
What can be more troublesome, however, is communication. Individuals may potentially thrive when working independently but over the long term, they may find themselves alienated. This is because, while there are a number of effective ways for teams to communicate, including video conferencing, shared office spaces cultivate a more personal connection between employees.
The ability for managers to more easily engage with employees, even for small talk, is a benefit of the central workplace, allowing managers to more closely understand the mood of their team. When working at a distance, employees are more difficult to read and even with regular messages, digital communication does not offer the same level of connection that teams can achieve in a shared workspace.
Cost is, understandably, at the heart of the discussion for many businesses with many recognising that decentralising departments can allow for huge financial gains, especially as overheads continue to rise. Businesses should not forget, however, that employees should not entirely take on the cost of remote working. If certain benefits are not offered to those choosing to work from home then employees can quickly become disillusioned facing increased electricity bills and home office costs themselves.
Ultimately, it is important that employees and business leaders discuss their concerns. While there are a number of benefits to remote working practices, for both employees and employers, it is an operation that must take into consideration both parties to ensure success.