Now that health experts say it’s safe to start returning to normal everyday activities, many business owners find themselves faced with a dilemma: Do they continue operating a remote office the way they have done for the past year and a half, or do they return to in-person operations as they were before the pandemic.
Or maybe they never had an in-person office to begin with. Some entrepreneurs actually started their business in the middle of the pandemic, and they now find themselves trying to decide whether they want to try finding office space.
Regardless of your specific situation, there are pros and cons to running a remote office. Some aspects are more stressful for employers, while other aspects of it are more stressful for employees. Here’s what you should consider when you’re thinking about a remote office.
Pros of remote working
Employees have more flexibility.
Work-life balance has always been a problem for modern professionals, but remote work makes it easier to set hours that are more convenient for the employee, especially if they have a schedule that changes day to day or week to week. After all, 9 AM to 5 PM isn’t always practical. Plus employees save time that they would usually spend having to commute — and on days when they don’t have appointments, they don’t have to spend a lot of time cleaning themselves up to impress anyone.
Employees tend to have a better experience working.
The flexibility translates into happier employees. They tend to be better rested and less stressed out. They also are able to focus on getting their work done, instead of finding themselves distracted by loud music from the next cubicle over or a chatty coworker who stops by their desk to talk endlessly. Remote employees can sit down at their desks when it’s convenient, get their work done, and then go back to their personal life.
You don’t have to deal with office rent and other infrastructure costs.
Let’s face it — rent is expensive. In fact, after paying the salaries of your employees, rent is probably the greatest cost you face as a business owner. By running a remote office, you end up saving yourself thousands of dollars not only in rent but also in infrastructure costs like parking, utilities, and maintenance.
Employees tend to be more productive.
Because employees are working their own schedules, they will be able to choose the hours that work best for them — when their focus is its best and their energy levels are highest. They will also not have to deal with all the distractions that come along with an office setting. Therefore, they can actually accomplish more work in a shorter period of time. That means they’re able to get ahead on projects that would normally have to wait, or they can brainstorm fresh ideas that can help your company grow.
Employees tend to be healthier.
Office jobs can easily become unhealthy — you sit for eight or nine hours at a time with maybe a few bathroom breaks and a stroll down to a coworker’s office if you need to ask a question. But employees who work from home have the option of taking a walk in between projects, cooking a healthy lunch in their home kitchen, scooting out to the gym in the middle of the day, or even getting a nap in if they need one.
Cons of remote working
There’s limited interaction with coworkers.
When employees work remotely, they don’t see their coworkers throughout the day the way they normally would. The most interaction they might have in a day is a virtual meeting and a few Slack messages. This can make it difficult to establish the relationships that are needed for good teamwork.
There’s limited interaction with clients or customers.
And it’s not just coworkers who see limited interaction. Clients and customers might never have the chance for a face-to-face conversation beyond Zoom. Some clients might find that this removes the sense of trust or the personal touch they seek from the businesses they patronize. Business owners have to find other ways of strengthening relationships with clients to show them they matter.
Remote teams can be difficult to manage.
When everyone is working on different schedules, it can be difficult for anyone in a management role to know the status of certain projects, who is doing what, and when completion can be expected. Additionally, it’s hard to assess things like strengths and weaknesses in individual employees because a manager isn’t able to have direct interaction with them.
People can feel less collaborative.
If people aren’t there in the office setting, they could be focused on their own part of a project so they can finish it and move on to their next task. There are fewer chances for offering to help coworkers who need assistance or coming up with fresh ideas that make the best use of the talents of those around them.
Some employees face loneliness and isolation.
Finally, working from home can get pretty depressing for some employees who want human interaction in their day. While Zoom or Slack can provide the necessary communication to get the job done, there’s something to be said for the social aspect of being part of a team. Employees who need a little bit of extroversion should make a point of getting out to work in a coffee shop or library, and they should sign themselves up for networking opportunities where they can interact with other people.