Advances in mobile high-speed internet and cloud computing have led to a steep rise in telecommuting, changing the office landscape forever. Many companies, particularly in the tech sector, attract talent by offering flexible schedules and part- or full-time remote work. Other companies are foregoing the physical office entirely and replacing it with internet-based collaboration tools like Skype, Slack, and Trello.
But assessing if (and to what extent) remote work fits into your company can be tricky. This is particularly true for young companies that are looking to attract talent, but are still developing their company culture. Below are some of the key benefits and drawbacks of telecommuting, and some tips to get you started.
Working Outside the Box
One highly practical benefit of being open to telecommuting is a significantly larger pool of available talent, since remote positions are not limited to applicants in the immediate area. According to the Forbes Tech Council:
Limiting yourself to hiring within your locality restricts you to a small talent pool. You may be forced to settle for mediocre talent simply because you need the position filled. Companies that hire remote workers have a larger pool of top-notch talent.
In addition, working from home can be an excellent way to reward valuable employees, which improves overall retention. Many managers see an increase in productivity after remote work policies are implemented. This is often because employees can create a work environment that better matches their needs.
Keeping Things Close
While remote work has its advantages, so does working in a more traditional office. For example, it is often easier for staff to forge collaborative relationships when working in the same physical space, since it provides more opportunities for spontaneous interaction and innovation.
Maintaining a physical office is also an efficient way to provide and maintain all the resources employees need to complete their work (internet, phone, files, etc.)Furthermore, shared work facilities allow you to keep a closer eye on productivity and morale.
Is Remote Right for You?
The answer to this depends heavily on the nature of your company.
First, consider if your business is even compatible with telecommuting. For example, if you rely on face-to-face customer/client interaction during regular business hours, remote work is probably not the ideal path. On the other hand, businesses that operate primarily online often find that transitioning to telecommuting saves the cost of maintaining an office without affecting productivity.
Next, remember that telecommuting does not have to be an either/or situation. For example, you can give your staff 5 telecommuting days every quarter. By starting small, you can evaluate if the policy is effective and then expand it as needed.
Finally, consider the effect telecommuting may have on operational costs. Do you have or can you afford the IT infrastructure necessary for secure remote work (new hardware, upgraded software, etc)? Balance this cost against the savings you might get from fewer people in the office. On the other hand, how many productive hours have you lost to bad traffic or inclement weather? Telecommuting could eliminate these issues.
In conclusion, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the debate between remote and physical offices. However, we hope the information here can help you decide the best path forward for your business.