The world underwent a rapid and unexpected change in early 2020, and the ripple effects of pandemic lockdowns are still felt across the business landscape. Remote work was at the center of the conversation then – what do executives think about it now?
Here are some remote work pros and cons to consider as businesses start bringing employees back to work and building hybrid office environments.
Pros of Remote Work.
The advantages of remote work are many, as executives have discovered first-hand. These are some commonly-cited benefits from business leaders on the front lines.
For most organizations, the bottom line matters more than anything, and remote work is getting the job done. When productivity is up, what else do you need to know?
“Remote work is allowing people to work flexible hours and work in their families’ lives with their corporate lives. There’s no real 9-5 block of time schedule anymore since everyone can be reached at all hours of the day. It might be best to establish boundaries, or at least set up specific breaks during the day when you are off the clock.” – Ben Cook Jr., Vice President & General Counsel, Cook Capital Group, LLC and Printed Kicks
“There is no perfect playbook for coordinating remote teams, as long as projects are completed expediently and we’re all on the same page during crunch time. Every company and team will have to experiment and discover which best practices work for them.” – Courtney Buhler, CEO and Founder of Sugarlash Pro
“The flexibility of remote work has unlocked so much hidden potential in the workforce, and we’re seeing major gains in overall productivity as a result. If that’s not the case for your company, make policy changes and upgrade technologies until you see the results you want.” – Jeff Meeks, VP of Sales and Marketing at EnergyFit
Working from home is very convenient – that much is obvious. No commuting, fewer logistical issues, and more time to work on the things that move the needle.
“The ability to work remotely comes with plenty of advantages. These perks include savings on travel expenses like gas, having the ability to work directly from your home or a local coffee shop, and having the luxury to plan your own schedule.” – Michael Hennessy, CEO of Diathrive.
“Remote work has exploded over the past year like never before. Employees are easier to reach and engage with, thanks to Zoom, Google Meet, and other video conferencing apps. It has increased opportunities for people looking for jobs since many companies are now not just hiring locally but branching out to hire people nationwide as well.” – said Dennis Hegstad, Co-Founder of LiveRecover.
“Remote work has become standard for many — whether by choice or due to current circumstances. Whatever the case may be, average 9-to-5 employees have never experienced the freedom that remote work can bring, as well as the ability to explore alternate methods of organization, management, and overall productivity. On the other hand, some workers have a difficult time adjusting to this independence that makes remote work so appealing to others.” – Ryan Rottman, Co-Founder and CEO of OSDB Sports
“Remote work has become more popular now than ever before, this is mainly due to the pandemic. One upside of remote work is you can work from anywhere you want, as long as there is a strong Wi-Fi connection. The tradeoff is that you have to be disciplined when working remotely. When there are no other co-workers or managers around you have to rely on discipline and a strict routine to stay on track.” – Aidan Cole, Co-Founder of Nailboo
When employees have more control over their schedule and environment, this can lead to good things – provided they are aligned with the business mission and practice discipline daily.
“It’s a good thing that employees have more autonomy and flexibility in terms of scheduling and process. Just remember that not everyone is suited for this type of work, and managers might need to intervene to offer more structure and guidance on a team level.” – Chris Riley, Founder and CEO of USA Rx
“Remote work has encouraged all of us to level up in terms of self-discipline and attention span, which is a good thing for business and life in general. Leaders in the workplace need to set an example and keep everyone on track when challenges arise.” – Lindsay McCormick, Founder and CEO of Bite
“Working remotely gives you the ability to be around your family more often, work from any location and take breaks when needed without judgment. The only true downside is you start to associate where you live with where you work. I suggest changing up your remote location as much as possible to avoid this. This will help motivate you so you don’t become fatigued.” – Dylan Arthur Garber, Co-Founder of Audien Hearing
Cons of Remote Work.
Remote work is not without its critics, and many executives are debating whether these policies are worth continuing as they get the green light to return to the office.
Disconnection and Distraction
Some professionals have no problem working from home successfully for months or years at a time. For others, feelings of disconnection and distraction can be an ongoing issue.
“When jobs first went digital and everyone had the ability to work remotely, it felt equivalent to skipping school but still getting credit for attending. After about three months or so, the working remote ‘honeymoon’ phase started to fizzle out. As time went on people started to realize that working remotely comes with a big responsibility, you have to be self-motivated, avoid distractions like the family dog or kids, and still try to maintain the same production level as if things were in person.” – Sean O’Brien, CMO of Modloft
“There are infinite distractions at home, which can make it difficult for employees to keep their minds focused on their work. However, it makes sense given the fact that the past year has been such a difficult time for so many. Working in teams on projects can definitely help improve productivity and make work more enjoyable since many people are missing the opportunity to have social interaction.” – Shaun Price, Head of Customer Acquisition at MitoQ
“Self-motivation is tough to cultivate for many people in a remote work environment. You can feel a bit disconnected from your team and maybe not approach daily tasks with the right energy. Supervisors and team leaders should be more directly involved without micromanaging or being too invasive.” – Nancy Belcher, CEO of Winona
Even high-capacity teams have struggled to collaborate effectively due to the limitations of remote work technology. This may present an issue for progress and innovation.
“We tried it – it’s just not the same. You just cannot get the same quality outcomes. There’s this thrill of being in a group of creative people, on a shared mission, in a startup, with little money, eating pizza and ramen.” – Chef Robotics CEO Rajat Bhageria
“The biggest obstacle to successful remote work is collaboration, especially in creative industries. It’s not always easy to bounce ideas in a video call, in a chat, or in an email thread. There is lots of potential for collaboration software to be implemented and change how remote work is done.” – Lori Price, Co-Founder of PixieLane
“People loved the feeling of comradery, just being in a workplace with colleagues. What was surprising was that even 16% said they missed the commute” – Philippe Weiss, President of Seyfarth at Work
“The pros and cons of remote work depend on the individual and their personality type. Some people thrive on the social and creative aspects of an in-person office, while others are perfectly happy working in their own world at home. Managers need to be flexible with their policies to make it all work cross-team.” – Michael Jankie, Founder of NaturalPatch
By no means is remote work a cure-all for productivity and team coordination. Issues with tech, culture, and cohesion can persist and create new challenges for managers.
“Opportunities for employees are more plentiful, meaning companies need to focus heavily on culture, staff engagement, and satisfaction. Disengaged workers can jump ship at any time, and you don’t want that. This is the time to reassess your workforce and make sure everyone is lock-step on core values and the mission of your company.” – James Ville, Chief Product Officer of GunSkins
“Remote work has its limitations, but executives need to identify gaps in their game plan and fix them fast before they impact productivity. This could mean implementing new technologies, creating new systems of scheduling, or more frequent check-ins and business-wide meetings to maintain cohesion. Your goal as a manager is to keep teams working together and working hard.” – Marc Atiyeh, CEO of Pawp
“Many companies already had the infrastructure necessary to manage a remote workforce, but in light of this past year’s events, it’s crucial to success across the business world. If your company is lagging in terms of policies or tech, it’s time to adapt or run the risk of falling behind.” – Lauren Kleinman, Co-Founder of The Quality Edit
The Future of Remote Work.
Will CEOs be eager to return to the office once the dust of the pandemic has fully settled, or will remote work still be a viable approach moving forward?
Time will tell what becomes of the hybrid office and how other creative solutions impact the new normal.