Business as usual, or a brave new world: Could remote work be your company’s saving grace?
Until a few months ago, many companies were staunchly defending their brick-and-mortar offices, the value of IRL collaboration, and the sheer impossibility of opening up their operations to remote work or telecommuting.
And then came COVID-19.
Suddenly, companies everywhere were faced with a dire choice: adapt – or die off. That’s when a lot of employees and supervisors alike learned that maybe working from home wasn’t all that impossible after all.
There are definitely advantages and disadvantages to remote work arrangements. First and foremost, some companies simply can’t do it. Elder care, childcare, food preparation, utilities maintenance, manufacturing, and of course medicine of all stripes – these are jobs that are hands-on by necessity. So while their day-to-day operations may have changed somewhat, with personal protective gear mandatory and limited interaction with others when possible, those employees still need to go to work.
White collar workers, on the other hand, have largely overcome the challenges presented by COVID-19. And small- and medium-sized business owners are discovering that things are going well. In fact, as many of them are realizing, the pandemic may be a blessing in disguise.
It’s Actually Not That Big of a Switch
For some people, the move to a home office was something of a culture shock. But for many of us, remote work might not have been our default mode, but it was still familiar. Some 43% of Americans were accustomed to logging at least some work time while surrounding by our families – or seated at a Starbucks. That’s almost half of all workers. Shifting to full-time from-home operations couldn’t have been that difficult.
The younger the employee, the more likely they were, even pre-coronavirus, to be working remotely. About half of Millennials reported that they were telecommuting 100% of the time. Some of them were even working from across the globe, or traveling the world as digital nomads.
The Advantages of Remote Work
In the past several years, business experts have begun touting the advantages of remote work. Here are a few of the key findings from recent studies:
- Companies with remote work arrangements experience 25% lower rates of turnover than their counterparts with in-office attendance requirements
- Three-quarters of employees say working remotely helps them avoid interruptions and distractions
- Fully 86% of workers felt that telecommuting reduced their overall stress
- The average employer saves a whopping $11K per year on overhead costs by allowing its employees to work from home
- Greenhouse gas emissions can be radically reduced with remote work policies
What kind of money – and hassles – could your company save by closing up physical shop and going fully remote?
Weighing the Risks and Benefits
Of course, there are many factors that influence whether or not remote work is even feasible for your firm, let alone advantageous from a cost perspective. Could you get out of your office-space lease or sell your building? How would you handle human resources? What about insurance issues?
Would morale begin to drop over time, and how could you combat the problems of disconnection and distance? Are workers’ privacy or safety at risk when they work from home? What kind of remote work tools such as intranet and teleconferencing systems would be required?
You will have to do your own due diligence when it comes to answering these questions. For some companies, the time might not yet be ripe to make a drastic move to full virtual employment. Others might find that this pandemic is the perfect push they need to go fully remote.
How is your company faring during Pandemic 2020? When all is said and done, will you back to business as usual, or do you think this is the beginning of exciting chances for your company? Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment below.