Among digital workers, remote working is fast becoming an industry standard, even though many companies (understandably) feel that moving away from traditional working practices might result in less control. This holds true even more during the pandemic today. But the increased convenience and ‘hands-off’ approach has really benefited many organizations and its easy to see why.

Remote worker busy

What is Remote Working?

The general idea of remote working is allowing employees to do their jobs wherever they are without the struggles you’d have expected in the past. The rise in popularity and speed of cloud computing means that remote work is a more viable option now than it ever has been and with the ubiquity of internet enabled electronics.

There are numerous ways in which workers can stay connected to the office, even if they’re hundreds or thousands of miles away.

So Does it Work?

It sounds ideal but of course there are drawbacks to remote working practices. Indeed, several years ago the CEO of internet giants ‘Yahoo’ ended the companies long-standing remote work policy completely, which came as a massive shock to the community. As a result, many employees left in outrage but if you look at it logically it’s easy to see her point of view even if one might not necessarily agree with it.

Below we’ll be examining both sides of the argument.

The Upsides

Remote working using online tools

  • The sheer convenience of being able to delegate work to an ‘off-site’ team can be incredibly liberating.
  • Advances in cloud computing have meant that workers can essentially take their offices on the road with them. So if there’s a meeting that needs to be conducted away from the office, the employees conducting the meeting can take with them all of the information they need and all of the functionality they would enjoy at their own desks. This also means they can be updated on the fly if anything happens ‘back at the office’.
  • Many workers simply work better when they are ‘let off the lease’ so to speak and without the higher-ups breathing down their necks, they could get some of their best and most productive work done. If employees are given the option of remote working, they are also more likely to stick around, especially if they have children at home that they need to look after during the day.
  • Workers own devices (smartphones, tablets, laptops etc.) can be used for remote work, which not only means lower overhead costs, but that employees will feel more ‘in control’ of their schedules and more comfortable due to the familiarity they will already have with their own devices.
  • By completely circumventing the need for a ‘commute’, you’re giving your workers more time to do their jobs, time (and money lest we forget that travel isn’t free) that would otherwise be spent idly fiddling with their phones on the train or shouting at traffic in the midst of the morning rat race.
  • Allowing your employees to work remotely establishes a great deal of trust, trust that works both ways.

The Downsides

Lazy remote worker
photo credit: Tony Delgrosso / Flickr
  • Whilst it could be argued that there are more potential distractions in the average office than there are at an employees home and that working from home is generally quieter and more peaceful, the allure of television or even household chores can often prove tempting for remote workers.
  • If workers don’t spend much time in the office, socializing with their fellow workers then they could lose touch. Also, whilst cloud computing has made communication between conventional workers and remote workers less difficult, it still doesn’t compare to a good old fashioned face-to-face.
  • Whilst the employees might see this as a positive side-effect of remote working, the fact that managers and team leaders will have less direct control over their employees could lead to certain, less focused workers feeling less engaged and less inclined to do their jobs well and with conviction.

As you can see, the upsides significantly outweigh the downsides, but whether or not remote working is good business for your businesses depends very much on the kind of business you run and the kind of workers you employ. It’s certainly an option to consider though because cloud computing is getting faster by the year and as a result, remote working will more than likely continue to flourish as a legitimate alternative business practice throughout 2021 and beyond.