By Craig Lauer | May 31, 2020
While remote work has trended over recent years, many employees were thrust into the great work-from-home experiment for the first time by COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. As these orders lift, CEOs are making news for extending the option for continual teleworking—but is that the right decision for your association? Consider the following benefits and drawbacks:
- Reduced costs
From a financial perspective, telecommuting benefits everyone. USA Todayreports working from home will typically save your employees about $4,000 a year. Remote workers will also save you money on office supplies, snacks, and overhead. According to Global Workplace Analytics, employers can actually save over $11,000 per half-time telecommuter per year.
- Increased productivity
One Stanford study found that employees who work from home exhibit a productivity boost equivalent to a full day’s work compared with in-office counterparts. Time spent commuting is reallocated to business, and employees who are mildly sick are more likely to continue working at home, rather than taking a sick day (which begets another especially timely bonus: no sharing illnesses).
- Increased talent
Offering the ability to work from home presents the potential for you to work with anyone in the world. This not only increases the likelihood for you to recruit the very best, it also benefits your association by strengthening cultural diversity.
- Reduced turnover
Work-from-home policies are effective in recruiting and retaining employees. Allowing employees to telecommute can increase job satisfaction and loyalty, which result in a long-term staff that develops an increasing degree of knowledge about your business. In addition, less time and money are spent advertising for open positions, screening, interviewing, and hiring new staffers, and bringing them up to speed on job responsibilities.
- Increased happiness
In addition to the cost savings listed previously, moods of employees and employers are prime for a boosting by the lack of commute and office distractions (like the kind of gossip that can creep into traditional work settings). Attesting to the utility of happiness, an extensive study into happiness and productivity by Oxford University’s Saïd Business School, in collaboration with British multinational telecoms firm BT, found that workers are 13% more productive when happy.
- Decreased camaraderie
Team building plays a critical role in company culture, and it can be harder to establish bonds with remote employees. A Harvard Business Review study shows that a lack of close contact with people inhibits the formation of trust, connection, and mutual purpose. If you do decide to extend your work-from-home policy, you will want to do everything you can to keep your employees engaged while they work remotely.
- Security concerns
You will need to address the risks involved in connecting remotely if you want to extend the option to work from home to your employees. Sivan Tehila, director of solution architecture at Perimeter 81 and founder of Cyber Ladies NYC, lists the following concerns and hazards of remote work:
- Home Wi-Fi security
- Phishing scams
- Insecure passwords
- Difficulty separating work life from family life
A clear distinction between work life and personal time exists when going into an office. Working from home includes the potential for this line to blur, which could compromise focus and set your employees up for burnout.
- Inability to extend option to everyone
Not every type of business can ask its employees to work from home, and not every job position can be performed remotely. In addition to caveats of operations and roles, employers should be mindful of disparities in access to office equipment and internet.
- Risk of personal and professional isolation
It may be more difficult to gauge the emotions, morale, and well-being of teleworkers, so you will need to prioritize checking in with any remote workers to ensure they aren’t feeling disconnected. Of course, the presence of people doesn’t eliminate the possibility of loneliness, so supporting your staff’s mental health should be part of your leadership approach, regardless of whether or not your employees are working from home.
As your association continues to deal with the ongoing disruptions from COVID-19, permanent remote work could complement necessary cost-cutting measures. However, you may determine the obstacles of telecommuting outweigh the benefits. Either way, there’s no better time than now to thoughtfully evaluate your work-from-home policy. Determining what makes sense for your association and your employees deserves thoughtful consideration, and we hope this breakdown helps.
We’d love to hear your valuable association perspective. Share your position for or against permanent work-from-home policies by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.