One of the changes that came to us early in 2020 was mandated remote work for a large part of the work force. As the year continues it looks like remote work may be here to stay for a while. In this article we’ll talk about the future of remote work and the pros and cons that come with it.
Here to Stay?
The short answer? Probably. There are a few reasons for this:
- Companies with office space have realized massive savings in their rent by going fully remote and giving up their office space.
- There’s also been a good stretch of time for employers to evaluate whether the quality of work for employees has decreased because of a move to remote work. While the results depend on the company, the data seem to indicate that not only has productivity not dropped due to remote work, it has increased in some cases.
- Management that simply saw an “unknown” about remote work in their teams no longer have that unknown. This means more openness to an ongoing or even permanent remote policy for staff.
- Before Covid-19, remote work was considered a perk. These days, it’s more and more part of the “new normal.”
- Retail, already struggling pre-Covid-19, has been decimated.
- This doesn’t mean buying goods is going away, but it will have to change and adapt to the current circumstances and what may lie ahead.
We alluded to some of this above, but the pros of remote work include:
- Better employee retention – if employees know they can keep a job they enjoy AND have the freedom to pick an optimal place to live that isn’t job dependent, they are more likely to stay in a job they enjoy and find challenging.
- Wider recruiting pool – when you’re no longer limited to your city and state to find team members, you’ve got (literally) a world of possibilities to hire from.
It’s not all roses, however. Human beings are inherently social, and just as confinement policies showed us remote work was possible, it also showed us that people still desire to connect with each other in person.
- Team cohesion is a challenge – whatever online tools you may use to communicate as a team, they ultimately are just substitutes for the best way for humans to collaborate: in person. This isn’t a con that can’t be dealt with, but it requires more than just an occasional Zoom “happy hour” with your colleagues.
- Isolation becomes real – remote work is not just a challenge for collaborating with your colleagues, it can also feel isolating. Most people are used to being physically near their colleagues and for those who aren’t used to it, remote work can be jarring in a way that makes it difficult to work.
Ultimately, remote work isn’t for every company or every employee and no matter what Covid-19 has done in the past months or in the months to come, a regular life will resume (we know it’s hard to imagine at the moment) and employers and employees will need to make decisions. But what we do have now is more experience and information, and that’s a good place to be in to make important decisions.
How have you coped with remote work? Do you think it will last? Share with us in the comments below.