Many companies are deciding whether they want remote vs. in-person work. Some may decide upon both. Below we will discuss the pros and cons of each, and which would be better for your business.
What is Remote Work?
Remote working is when your employees don’t work in the office or where their employer is located. These workers usually do not travel to their workplaces or their workplace changes frequently (e.g., landscaper). They can work in their home, a co-working space, a library, or another setting. They can even work in another state or geographical location. Remote work can also be referred to as hybrid or telecommuting work. Workers can be fully or partially remote.
When deciding which is best for your company – working remotely vs. in-person, you should first understand how employees can work remotely.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 40 million Americans work full-time or part-time remotely.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Remote Work
There are several advantages of remote vs. in-person work.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), when remote work is managed correctly, it can:
- When you have fewer distractions, you are more productive. If the job doesn’t rely on collaboration, remote work may be best.
- With fewer distractions, you may be able to be more creative and innovative.
- When employees feel trusted and not micromanaged, morale improves.
- Offer flexibility, saves time, and reduces transportation costs.
- When you are able to hire remote workers, you can broaden your range of applicants and increase your hiring pool.
Although for some, productivity, creativity, and morale can decrease since workers have fewer opportunities to network with their colleagues. Some jobs require more teamwork or communication with others. Positions such as software engineers, programmers, data entry jobs, and call center workers usually do well with remote work. The APA found that jobs that didn’t require much collaboration performed better working remotely than in the office. When a job requires deep concentration and few interruptions, then working remotely may be better. Employers can reduce overhead expenses when they have remote workers.
However, there are some disadvantages.
- Sometimes workers may feel socially isolated.
- Work time can move into home time, and sometimes it may be difficult to separate.
- They may also work longer hours. Because of this, workers may suffer from burnout quicker, so it is important to establish boundaries for remote employees.
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Advantages and Disadvantages of In-Person Work
Remote working is great to offer flexibility, but in-person work has many advantages too such as:
- It offers structure – When an employee has structure in their life, they feel less stressed. Working in person in the office can offer more structure. If workers don’t have their office and scheduled structured at their remote location, they may feel more stress.
- Improved relationships – Going into the office or job can help workers’ moods especially if they are having problems at home. It can be an escape for some. You also joke around and share stories with your colleagues that can help you form great relationships.
- Productivity and cooperation – When you are at the job site, you are more likely to stay focused on your work. Also, your manager sees you working hard, and they get to know you better.
Some disadvantages are:
- Distractions – When working on a big project and employees need little interruptions, it is hard to work in an office. Also, introverted people may prefer to be alone. If your position is not a team job, it may be better to work remotely vs. in-person. Furthermore, some companies have an open office space structure where no one has offices. This can be especially distracting for those that need the quiet to concentrate.
- Increase stress – Being in the office all day can cause more stress because of pressure. When employees work remotely, they can avoid some stressful triggers.
Which is Better for Your Business? Remote Vs. In-Person Work?
It is important to look at your business to see what you can offer when looking at remote vs. in-person work. Maybe you offer a mix between the two. For example, if you have someone who is an admin working for your small business, you can offer flex time. Maybe he/she would like to work half their time at home and the other in the office.
Furthermore, if you do have some employees that work from home, you should ensure they are using secure equipment and software. If you have information such as customer’s personal data, they need to have the same security set up at home as in the office.
It is important to analyze each job and keep the job’s priorities in mind. If the job will require a lot of teamwork and collaboration, it may be necessary for the worker to work from the office. It is also important to make sure your employees are set up to work from home. Do they have a dedicated office space? How long is their commute? How can they join meetings at home? Will their home location be secure?
How to Manage Remote Workers
If you have determined that some jobs can be remote, here are some tips to help you manage remote workers:
Set clear expectations and communicate.
All employees should know expectations. Communication has to be the number one expectation. If you can’t get in touch with your remote employee or they can’t get in touch with you, you may have problems. Ask questions like you would your in-person staff. How are things going? Where are they on the current project timeline? They should know you will be treating them as if they were in the office.
Make sure they are included in all team meetings whether they come in for those meetings or join remotely. Never leave them out of any invite to meetings, celebrations, or group events. Schedule one-on-one meetings so that they can give you regular updates.
Have the necessary software in place.
You want to make sure you have software in place to communicate (e.g., Zoom). Also, research different software that is good for you and your remote employees. For example, ezClocker is an inexpensive and easy way to manage timesheets with your staff. It works great for remote workers. Once they clock in, you can see their location to make sure they are on the job site.
You may feel that since you can’t talk to your employees or see what they are doing, you may need to check on them often. However, consider only giving your best employees the honor to work remotely if that would make you feel more comfortable. Communication is strategic. As long as they are doing their work, you shouldn’t have to check on them often. They need to feel important but don’t double-check everything they do either. If you hire people to work remotely, it is vital they have the discipline to do the job.
Good leadership is important to manage any worker. If you feel someone is not going the job remotely or in-person, you should address the problems immediately.
Working remotely vs. in-person doesn’t have to be complicated. It is important to use the same leadership skills you have with both types of workers. They should also make sure they have a good home setup, set goals, and they take breaks away from their work. Offer flexibility. If they can work from the office sometimes, let them know they can choose. The number one concern is always going to be communication, so it is important they know to always communicate with you. Make sure you offer feedback, the right remote setup, training opportunities, and motivate them when it gets tough.
Some positions are always going to be in the office, and some are always going to be remote. There may not be a chance for flexibility. Regardless of which method works for your business, it is important to hire the right person for the location and the position of the job.