If your organization has not already considered or implemented remote work for your employees, the coronavirus pandemic has certainly refocused your attention on this option. While remote work offers many positive benefits for small companies, there are also some negative aspects associated with it that must be overcome in order for your organization to utilize it most effectively.
In this blog post, we will give an overview of the benefits of remote work as well as the drawbacks that your company will need to address in order to achieve the best results.
Benefits of Remote Work
Improved employee morale and productivity
A happy employee is generally a productive one, and studies prove that giving your employees remote work options raises the level of worker satisfaction. The work-life balance issue is normally the most important issue raised in employee surveys—even beating out salary concerns. Employees enjoy the flexibility of remote work, which gives them the ability to avoid difficult and time-consuming commutes and allows them to spend more time with their family or pursue their own interests. Not having to commute or be in the office every day also saves employees money that would be spent on transportation, food, and their wardrobe.
In addition, your employees will generally be happy and healthier with less work lost to sick days. When workers do feel under the weather, they will be content to spend some time working from home and will not negatively impact other employees at the office. A healthier, more productive worker raises the company’s bottom line, making remote work a true win-win solution.
Access to more talent
Without the necessity of having every employee in the office, your small business will be able to extend job opportunities to a greater talent pool. For example, the skilled person who would have avoided working at your firm because of a long commute can now be hired using a partial or full remote work option. In addition, many positions that don’t require in-person contact with clients or sales prospects can now be done virtually from almost anywhere in the world with an internet connection.
By offering remote work options, employers can realize significant savings. First, your small business won’t need as much office space or physical infrastructure to operate your business as fewer employees will be onsite as often. Also, your company will be able to spend less on overall compensation because remote workers won’t need as much money for commuting expenses and can live in more affordable areas. In addition, employees will generally value an ideal work/life balance and increased flexibility through remote work more than higher compensation. Your small business will also have less of an issue with employees not being able to work because of inclement weather or other disruptions like the current coronavirus pandemic.
Disadvantages of Remote Work
A serious threat accompanying remote work is the enhanced danger of cyberattacks. The employee is always the weakest link in a company’s cybersecurity defenses and never more so than when using personal devices to access the company network. These devices are almost always less protected than company assets and provide more enticing portals for cyber criminals to gain access to your company’s network. Cyberattacks and data breaches are rising at a frightening pace during the current health crisis, as hackers are working hard to take advantage of the huge increase of inexperienced teleworkers.
Even when bringing company devices home, employees generally become less diligent about practicing good internet and email behavior and will more likely fall victim to phishing attacks and other malware.
Employees don’t feel connected to the company
No matter how realistic videoconferencing and other technology become, nothing will ever replace some of the advantages of direct human interaction. This is especially true in industries and sectors that rely on establishing trust and personal relationships with customers and prospective clients. In addition, there are some extroverted employees who thrive on human contact that will feel isolated working from home too often. As a result, these employees will become more stressed and unhappy and, ultimately, not as productive at their job.
It is also difficult to practice important team building efforts and meet some training needs in an all-virtual working environment.
Need to monitor employee productivity
In order for an employee to work from home effectively, they must be able to avoid distractions unique to their living situation and not succumb to the many temptations to avoid working productively. Some employees struggle with their focus and results when they no longer have direct supervision. For some businesses and some types of positions, it is difficult to effectively monitor employee productivity in a virtual setting.
How to Make Your Remote Work Options Work Effectively
After considering the pros and cons of remote work, some useful recommendations on how your company can best implement and execute telework options are discussed below.
Define expectations and monitor productivity
Your company should develop comprehensive written guidelines about what is expected from all employees working remotely. In addition, your organization should train workers on how to use their company telephone as if they are working from the office and on how to safely access all information normally stored on their workstations or shared drives. Special attention should be given to securing company data on all devices.
It is important for your company to develop methods to monitor the level and quality of the output of employees to ensure that remote working is adding value. Expected performance levels should rise when you implement this option, and it should be made clear that telework options can be discontinued or restricted if this is not the case.
In addition, some individual employees and various positions may not be suited for remote work. The final decision on whether to offer the telework option can best be determined by an employee’s proven work record and your company’s trust in their abilities and character.
Provide employees with optimal equipment and remote work training
A key component of making remote work secure and productive is to ensure that your workers have the optimal equipment to successfully complete their jobs. In most cases, it makes sense to supply employees with highly secure, company-furnished devices with all the applications and tools they need. In addition, your company could purchase or offer recommendations on tools and products that make teleworking more comfortable and effective such as headsets, earbuds, ergonomic furniture and workstations, and light-blocking screen protectors. Your company should also encourage your employees to practice healthy telework behavior, such as taking frequent breaks and rejuvenating themselves by going outside for fresh air and sunlight.
Even after outfitting your employees with the right equipment, your company should continuously stress the importance of good internet and email behavior as well as the critical need to keep all company-supplied equipment secure. Your company should also offer online and direct remote work training to all employees that covers these important security issues and offers recommendations on how to excel at telework.
Maintain regular communication and emphasize continued collaboration
It is important for your company to ensure that remote workers still feel like they are part of a team at your organization, whether they are on location or not. Your company should provide many opportunities for them to interact and work with their colleagues using different collaborative and social media technology. For example, your company should make sure there is a weekly video or teleconference call, at a minimum, for all employees in their respective departments. Leadership and team members should always be easily accessible for status updates, collaborative work sessions, work reviews, and other interactions via various types of communication.
Use a hybrid approach
Small companies have a unique mix of employees and positions that can benefit from remote work, but there is always a balance to be found. It makes sense to use a hybrid approach that offers different levels of remote work options depending upon the employee and their job responsibilities. One common sense recommendation is to test how your company fares with remote work by starting slowly and carefully finding the optimal mix of telework and office time for all your employees.
Work with a trusted IT Support Partner
Each company is different, so there is no one size fits all solution when it comes to offering remote work options. A trusted IT Support Partner, like Network Depot, will know your company’s unique needs well and can advise your company on which type of remote work options will work best. Your IT partner will utilize the best technology and experience to help you initiate telework options or optimize your organization’s current efforts. With the help of the recommendations above and a trusted IT partner, your company will be able to reap the significant benefits of remote work options.