Remote teams with remote jobs really is the new normal.
It seems like only yesterday that working from home or working remotely was something only a privileged few were able to enjoy.
But with the onset of the global pandemic companies were forced to adapt or die.
But working from home is not the miracle cure for all work issues. The lack of social interaction, the lack of a structured work environment, and the mental health challenges some have faced are very real.
So what’s the truth?
Do you need to be in a physical space with your colleagues to be productive?
Does working from home really lead to a better work-life balance?
Are remote employees really happier?
In this article we’re going to cover the findings of recent studies on working from home versus working from a traditional office. We’ll also explore the pros and cons of each option.
- Post -covid studies challenge pre-Covid studies – A 2012 study showed office workers performed more efficiently in an office versus at home (6)
- After a 2-year study (2019-2021) on average, those who work from home are 47% more productive (6)
- Hybrid Working is the preferred method for employer and employee (1)
Real quick, before we get too far into it here, if you want to connect with other remote workers or would love to make your home office space the best join my free private Facebook group, Home Office Hacks here.
Remote working, past present, and future
Before Covid 19 occurred, the statistical reports referring to the question “Work From Home Vs. Work From Office, which is better?” was drastically different. The opportunity arose to collect data about remote working, something, we have never been able to do before.
As a result, Covid 19 stimulated digital nomadic life, while leaving a wake of pros and cons in its aftermath. Though Covid still looms overhead, after over two years of a pandemic, we have enough data collected to decipher some pros and cons of working from home vs. working from an office.
Remote work is a soft commodity for the employee, and now with statistics to back it up, for the employer as well. Previously, remote work held a stereotype of less productivity. A 2012 study showed office workers performed more efficiently in an office Vs. at home.
Though, with technological advances and Covid forcing a change, this has shifted, creating a new outlook on the future of work. In 2021, 77% of those who were remote workers increased productivity at least a few times a month. Overall, 30% were performing better quicker, and 24% doing more work in the same period of time. (6)
Being able to live a digital nomadic life truly falls on the principle of work ethic and time. If the employee performs well, it’s a pro for the employer. As well, the employee gets the benefits of nomadic life. We now are able to use that time and data from remote work during Covid to calculate how the employee performed.
Time is the most valuable asset that is shared between employees and employers. The optimization of time is the value at which we’re able to calculate statistics from working remotely. Overall the employee performed higher than anticipated.
Now let’s visit the pros and cons.
Remote working pros for employees
- Being a digital nomad creates an opportunity for delegating how you work. You’re increasing your time at home, and spending less time on your commute. On average, Americans spend 27 minutes on their daily commute to work, with 14 million of the same study group having over one hour of commute time. (1) Once that’s averaged over how many days you go to work per year, it’s an astronomical figure.
- The employee now has control over the flexibility of their schedule. You decide when you’re going to wake up, how you get to enjoy your coffee, and when you need a break (not when you’re told to take a break).
- You get the benefit of deciding where you’re going to work. In the office, you may be in a cubicle, or near the heater, which might not be ideal for you. But, the coffee shop, library, or your balcony, may be optimal for you.
- The financial impact can vary from person to person. Going to the office can include hidden fees that add up. You’re cutting down on transportation costs, such as gas, tolls, public transit, and vehicle maintenance. Plus, you’re removing that pesky temptation to hit the burger joint during lunch.
Remote working cons for employees
Even though the pros are heavily supported by the digital nomad community and being home full-time seems like it’s a miracle cure for your work problems, everything is not sunshine and roses. Here are a few of the cons for employees:
- We’ve now removed the opportunity for face-to-face communication with your higher-ups. Career growth is widely “hire from within” for most companies. You’re losing the benefit of professional growth by removing in-person interactions. (3)
- Your home life and office life are now combined. You often hear the phrase “keep your personal life out of work, and work-life out of your personal life”. This can cause an imbalance in your family life.
- Communication can be delayed. (3) You’re now on your own; the colleague that used to be right next to you might begin and finish their remote day differently than you.
- A massive issue coinciding with working from home is technology. Plain and simple, we’re all not computer experts, and the tech team won’t be showing up at your front door. There are many tech problems that can occur at home – the wifi goes down, your laptop breaks or your dog chews up your charging cable.
- Your physical health can suffer. It’s a lot easier to work longer hours and spend a lot of time – a lot more time – at your desk than you normally would.
- You miss out on company culture and it’s hard to overestimate how important this can be. Some companies are known for their great culture that makes them special. If you don’t experience this culture, then you’re missing out on something valuable.
Previously, it was believed the at-home employee would be riddled with distractions – blowing off meetings, not hitting deadlines, and a drop in productivity. In reality, it was the opposite. Let us view how remote work can actually benefit the employer.
Remote working pros for employers
There are plenty of reasons why remote working is becoming increasingly popular among businesses.
- The productivity of in-office work compared to at-home work is impressive. A study conducted by UC Irvine showed, office workers, are interrupted every 11 minutes. Then having a rebound time of 25 minutes, to get back on task. Removing the simple distraction of co-workers increased productivity by 13% according to a Stanford study and increased 22% when participants were allowed to choose between working from home or the office. (6) By removing distractions, the employee is given less of an opportunity to wander off task, and this creates a higher focus. A higher focus inevitably creates an increased pace of productivity.
- When employees are in the office, management has a tendency to micromanage which is a huge distraction factor.
- Remote work creates an opportunity for office downsize. We no longer need a conference room to fit 25 employees, instead, only a zoom call.
- Being in an office increases the risk of exposure to illness. A survey created in 2021 says at least 50% of people are worried about being exposed to an illness in the workplace. (5) This is common after we just went through Covid 19. If an employee is at a lower risk of exposure, there’s less of a chance they’ll be using those sick days.
Remote working cons for employers
The cons for an employer are all specific to each company. But as a general rule of thumb, not having a direct eye on your employees can ultimately create an issue.
- You’re forfeiting the opportunity to manage and delegate tasks to your employees. (2) Not all employees are the same. Some excel with a structure set in place so they can’t slack off.
- The task of communication is much easier when you just need to walk to an employee’s desk. You can’t guarantee an answer in a matter of minutes when you’re not in the same space as the employee.
- The financial aspect of needing a 2,000-square-foot office space can be debilitating. An office this size is no longer needed.
Traditional office setting work arrangements
Ultimately having all your employees on hand, creates a better “team” environment, with social interactions, and time management. The employer is creating structure, and delegating tasks. Though remote work may be preferred, not everyone is capable of managing themselves.
An office structure was created to prevent employees from having the opportunity to slack off. When you’re in the office, you’re surrounded by your colleagues and upper management. Creating an easy environment for collaboration and brainstorming. The setting was created to assist with problems that you could come across.
For example, if an employee is having trouble with their tools, the office environment has a source to reference. As well, the employee has the opportunity to exchange views on a subject.
Negatively speaking, you’re losing the adaptability, of being flexible. You no longer can be at “two places at once”. Instead, you’re stuck on a strict schedule. You’re sitting in traffic, wasting time with a commute, rushing to family events because you have to be somewhere at a specific time.
Though recent studies clearly show, up to a 47% increase in productivity in an out-of-office environment, there is a long learning curve for those who only know in-office work. (5)
As a result of this back-and-forth data, there must be a happy medium.
Hybrid work arrangements
So far we’ve viewed the pros and cons of remote work, followed by the benefits and negatives of being in an office. This data has brought us to a need for a happy median.
Hybrid work is a combination of working remotely as well as in the office. (5) The benefit of a hybrid model where we’re mixing the two together has resulted in an increase in productivity, employee management, and employee well-being.
While it’s true that the vast majority of of workers really prefer working from home, it’s also true that many prefer to be in a regular office and a hybrid model delivers the best of both worlds: at the office for things like in-person meetings and in the home office for phone calls and virtual meetings and video calls.
To optimize this opportunity you need to understand how to manage your in-office time and your remote work time. The key to this is taking the pros and cons, and devolving which cons can become pros in the office and vice versus.
How to have a successful work from home arrangement
Work ethics are essential if you’re going work from home – either as team leaders and managers or team members.
A major reason that some are not successful working from home is they simply lack the structure they need to produce their best work.
For some people the temptations of being alone are too much. Social media can often be a big source of distraction for those that need formal structure.
Putting together a solid plan for your work day is vital. If you’re going to be successful digital nomads, you have to be your own boss and create the structure that you need that’s not part of your working week when it’s not done for you by your boss or the formal structure of traditional work.
Another aspect you have to make a plan for if you have children is child care. Work from your home office a lot different with the little ones running around and if you don’t have a good plan you can count on an significant increase in your stress levels.
Remote work is becoming increasingly popular among businesses. However, it does require a certain level of trust between the employer and the employee. Both parties must agree to the arrangement. There needs to be a clear understanding of expectations and responsibilities.
Working from home and working from the office will always be debated. Whether you’re pro office or pro remote, the statistics supporting the effectiveness of allowing employees to work from home are developing rapidly.
Remote work is brand new for many employers and employees. The opportunity to learn a new routine can be beneficial for both. Hybrid working gives the opportunity for flexibility to both parties. By mixing the two together, you are highlighting both pros and cons, inevitably increasing performance.
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