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Is Remote the Future of Work? (And How It Affects Your Company)

Lana Cindric ·

Is Remote the Future of Work? (And How It Affects Your Company)
Photo by Tanel Maandi from Videolind

With over 70% of professionals globally working remotely at least once a week, it's becoming clear that flexible work arrangements are no joke.

And while flexible work arrangements such as telecommuting and full-on remote work can be surprisingly cost effective for companies, there are still barriers to break before implementing them worldwide.

In this blog, we'll show you the advantages and disadvantages of flexible work, and help you make the best decision for your company. Even if it's just adding policies your employees will appreciate.

What Are Flexible Work Arrangements?

The way we work today is very similar to the way our parents and grandparents have worked. The main difference is switching factories for office buildings, and assembly lines for software.

However, our lives have changed.

According to Zenefits' State of Flexible Work Arrangements report, 73% of employees said flexible work arrangements increased their job satisfaction, and 78% of employees said these arrangements made them more productive.

Typically, we see flexible work arrangements in the following forms:

  1. Alternative work schedules
    Flexible time with a few core hours where the employee has to be present in the company, or flexible time without core hours. Another option is the compressed work week where employees work more hours at once in exchange for more time off.
  2. Flexible shifts and breaks arrangements
    If employees are working shifts, they may have requirements regarding which shifts they can be assigned. For example, some employees may not be able to work night shifts if they have small children.
    When a business sets company-wide breaks, that may not be practical for every employee, so an arrangement can be made for an employee to set their own break schedule.

  3. Hours Flexibility
    Part-time and other reduced-hours schedules are also considered to be flexible work arrangements. For example, some employees may work less than the standard 40 hours a week, and some may even work a few days per week.

  4. Transition Periods
    Flexible work arrangements that pertain to transition periods are often practiced when employees are returning from maternity/paternity leave, or when they're transitioning towards retirement. Typically, employees start with fewer hours for a few months, and then in the following period, the number of hours is gradually increased to ease the transition.

  5. Job Sharing
    Job shares are a good option for companies that hire a lot of part-time workers. In this type of flexible work arrangement, multiple people share the same job and split the hours.

  6. Remote Work
    The most common type of alternative work arrangements today. Can include telecommuting and being present in the office for a portion of time, or it can be complete remote work where workers don't have to be present in the office at all.

The options for flexible work arrangements are diverse and the suitability of each depends on the type of employees in your organization.

The Benefits of Flexible Work

There are numerous benefits of flexible work.

First, the employees seem to love it. 52% of them believe it increases their productivity, and 40% consider the fact that remote work reduces workplace distractions vital to their job satisfaction.

The so-called flextime also increases the autonomy employees feel over making their own schedules. It can even reduce the workload for managers who can focus on achieving results with their strategies, as opposed to monitoring the productivity and efficiency of their teams.

And when employees are given enough flexibility and autonomy over their work-related choices, it results in a higher talent attraction and retention rate. The company becomes a support system for providing excellent work, as opposed to symbolizing an office building pressuring employees into withstanding long and unproductive meetings.

Companies that offer flexible (or even fully remote work) also experience advantages such as:

  • Improving their employer brand
  • Reducing the employee turnover
  • Increasing employee engagement and performance
  • Improving the quality of hires (talent loves flexibility)
  • Reducing the overhead costs

Pay special attention to the last figure: reducing the costs. Every company wants to be as profitable as possible, and when absenteeism costs organizations millions every year, flexibility can be a great solution.

But absenteeism isn't the only thing putting a dent in the budget. Real estate costs are reduced, as well. According to PGi, organizations that offer telecommuting can annually save as much as $10,000 in real estate costs per employee.

It would seem that flexible work arrangements really are the golden ticket for both the employees and the employers.

But what are the disadvantages of flexibility?

Disadvantages of Flexible Working

For employers, the main disadvantages of remote and flexible work can come from the nature of work. If they simply deal with a field where constant contact and physical meetings are necessary, flexible work can cause chaos.

It definitely requires setting clear guidelines.

Compressed work weeks can also affect client handovers, as the Balance Careers state. If clients are expecting their person of contact (who is working compressed hours) to be present and resolve their issue during the standard work hours, their absence can complicate things.

When it comes to employees, they may feel isolated. Other employees who must be present may feel as though the flexible work arrangement applied only to some is unfair, regardless of the nature of their work.

In any case, before introducing flexible work arrangements, HR departments should make sure that the company, its culture, and its employees are ready for a step forward.

Conclusion

While flexible work comes with a plethora of benefits, it's not the perfect solution for every company.

However, even if some jobs require employees to be physically present when conducting their work, there's still room for flexibility with job sharing and compressed hours.

It all starts with the employees and what they need. But if you want to scale your company rapidly and the talent you want to attract and retain is crying out for flexibility, it may be time to forgo conference rooms and install communications software.

After all, it's all about doing the good work. And for that, you need your employees to feel good about working.

Sources

  1. 70% of People Globally Work Remotely. From CNBC
  2. The State of Flexible Work Arrangements, benchmark report. From Zenefits
  3. Flexible Work Arrangements: A Definition and Examples. From Georgetown
  4. 2018 Workplace Distraction Report. From Udemy
  5. The Business Case: How Work Flexibility Can Help Companies Save Money. From Work Flexibility
  6. The Cost Savings of Telecommuting. From PGi

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