Remote work is called by many names: Telecommuting, work-from-home, working away, working away, distributed teams, digital nomads, and hybrid work. No matter how an organization conceptualizes this phenomenon, it’s important to understand that remote work is not just a trend, it is the future of work.
Working remote can provide many benefits for both organizations, leaders, and employees, making it an attractive long-term option for many organizations and workers. We’ve developed a list of some of the problems that can be solved with a remote workforce.
1. Inflexible work hours
Remote work can provide more flexibility in work hours, allowing employees to work when it best suits their needs or during their most productive times. Employers can provide expectations for times for availability for team meetings and other events to support business goals. This flexibility can lead to increased productivity and higher quality work.
2. Lack of diversity
Remote work can help employers increase diversity in their workforce by providing access to a wider talent pool, overcoming geographic barriers, addressing age bias, and encouraging diverse perspectives. Employers may be less likely to make assumptions about candidates based on factors such as their appearance, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status.
For example, remote work can help to address age bias in the workplace, as older workers may not be able to relocate for work, but can work remotely. This provides opportunities for older workers to remain in the workforce, contributing their skills and experience. For more, read our article: Generational Communication in the Remote Workplace
3. Lack of creative solutions
Remote work can encourage diversity of thought, as employees from different backgrounds may bring different viewpoints and experiences to the workplace. This can enhance creativity, innovation, and problem-solving, leading to improved business outcomes.
4. Limited job opportunities
Remote work can provide more job opportunities for people who live in areas with limited job markets or for those with disabilities or caregiving responsibilities for family members. With remote work, careers that were previously an impossibility now opens the door to new opportunities.
5. Lack of Autonomy
An employee who is working remotely can have more independence in how they manage their workload and schedule. For example, they can prioritize tasks based on their own preferences and work style, rather than being told what to do by a manager. They can also take breaks when they need to, rather than being constrained by the schedule of a traditional office setting. This can lead to increased productivity and job satisfaction, as the employee is able to work in a way that best suits their individual needs and preferences.
This independence can also lead to a greater sense of accountability and responsibility, as the employee takes ownership of their work and feels empowered to make decisions that benefit themselves and the organization.
6. Inefficient meetings
Remote work can lead to more efficient meetings by reducing the need for in-person meetings and providing technology tools that allow for effective virtual meetings. Instead of someone yelling, “Conference room, 5 minutes!” there is a more focused and strategic approach to scheduling meetings.
7. Limited access to talent
Remote work can help employers access a larger pool of talent by allowing them to hire employees from different geographic locations. Actually, remote work allows employers to hire talent from anywhere in the world, opening up job opportunities for people who may not have access to traditional office-based jobs. For more, read our article: Time Zone Differences, Not a Problem for Remote!
8. Limited access to resources
Remote work can provide employees with access to a wider range of resources and expertise, as they can collaborate with colleagues and experts from different regions and backgrounds.
For example, an organization is developing a new software product but does not have the in-house expertise to design a key component. The organization can collaborate with a software engineer who is an expert in that specific component but lives in a different part of the world. This allows the organization to access the expertise it needs without having to hire a new employee or rely on the limited resources available locally.
9. Costs of physical office space
Remote work can reduce overhead costs for employers, such as rent and utilities, and dependence on physical office space, providing a more flexible and cost-effective work environment that can adapt to changing business needs.
The amount that a company can save in overhead building costs by moving to a remote workforce can vary depending on a number of factors, such as the size of the organization and the cost of real estate in their area. In one study, data was analyzed from a large sample of U.S. employees and estimated that organizations could save up to $10,000 per year per employee in reduced office expenses, such as rent, utilities, and office supplies, by implementing remote work policies (Shockley, 2019).
According to findings from a study by Global Workplace Analytics, a business could save an average of $11,000 per year per employee who works remotely half of the time (Bloom et al., 2014). For instance, if a company with 100 employees allows half of their employees to work remotely, they could potentially save around $550,000 per year in overhead building costs. This includes expenses such as rent, utilities, and maintenance.
10. Long commutes
Remote work eliminates the need for employees to commute to and from work, saving time and reducing stress. Long commutes can be time-consuming, unpredictable, expensive, monotonous, and even crowded when using public transportation.
Long commutes can have a negative impact on an employee’s physical and mental health, as well as their job satisfaction and overall quality of life. Remote work can be a solution to this problem by allowing employees to work from home or other remote locations, eliminating the need for a long commute and reducing the associated stress.
11. Workplace distractions
Remote work can provide a quieter and less distracting work environment than an office setting. This can help employees focus better and be more productive. If the office workplace is overcrowded or includes an open plan work environment, then remote work can provide a quieter, more focused work environment that helps employees focus.
12. Limited Work-life balance
Remote work can provide more flexibility and control over one’s work schedule, allowing employees to better balance their work and personal lives, which can improve overall job satisfaction and engagement with work.
13. High costs of going to work
Remote work can reduce costs for employees such as transportation, meals, and other expenses associated with office-based work. This can even include the need to by expensive clothes and shoes, for with remote work one merely needs to keep up that professional appearance from the waste up for video calls.
14. Health and safety concerns
Remote work can reduce the risk of exposure to illnesses and contagious diseases by eliminating the need for employees to be physically present in a crowded office environment. This can help reduce exposure to illnesses and contagious diseases, reducing stress levels.
15. Decreased Productivity
Remote work can actually increase productivity by allowing employees to work during their most productive hours of the day and reduce the number of interruptions from coworkers, meetings, or drive-by conversations, allowing employees to stay more focused on their tasks. This will look different for each organization and can be used for remote workers doing project-based work.
16. Disengaged employees
Remote work can help engage disengaged employees by providing them with more flexibility, autonomy, and opportunities for recognition, leading to increased job satisfaction, motivation, and engagement with work. The freedom and flexibility that comes with remote work, allows workers to design their workday and create a career that aligns with their personal values and sense of purpose.
17. Ineffective Communication
18. Overcrowded work spaces
Low density workplaces can take various forms, such as having employees work remotely from home full or part-time, managing staggered work schedules, or reducing the number of employees physically present in the office by using shared workspaces or rotating schedules. This approach can help organizations maintain a safe and healthy work environment for employees, while also allowing for increased flexibility and remote work options.
19. Decreased employee retention
Remote work can increase employee retention rates by providing employees with a more flexible work environment that allows them to better balance their work and personal lives. This can lead to higher job satisfaction and decreased turnover rates. Remote work also requires a greater level of trust between employers and employees, which can lead to a stronger sense of loyalty and commitment to the organization.
20. Environmental concerns
Remote work can help organizations reduce their environmental impact by reducing the number of employees commuting to and from work, resulting in reduced carbon emissions and a smaller ecological footprint.
These are just a few examples of the problems that remote work tries to solve. Remote work provides many benefits for both employers and employees, including increased productivity, better work-life balance, cost savings, and increased motivation making remote work a viable and sustainable option.
Remote work is not just a temporary solution, but a permanent shift in the way we work. It encourages us to embrace the change and look for opportunities and possibilities that come with remote work. We can be a part of the future of work, which can inspire hope and motivation to adapt to this new way of conceptualizing remote.
We offer online training to teach remote employees how to optimize factors related to productivity, access, communication, and engagement in a remote work environment through our Remote Professional Certification. Contact us to learn more!
Bloom, N., Liang, J., Roberts, J., & Ying, Z. J. (2014). Does working from home work? Evidence from a Chinese experiment. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 130(1), 165-218.
Shockley, K. M. (2019). Work-family conflict, work-family facilitation, and remote work: A multi-method investigation. Journal of Business and Psychology, 34(2), 205-220.