The Pros and Cons of a Remote WorkforceMarch 6, 2015 - By: Jason Carney
Turning to a remote workforce may not be your first thought as you build a strong, unified team, but it’s worth considering as there will be times when the skill of a remote employee or the convenience of working from an off-site location will come in handy.
Employers may choose to implement a remote workforce as a part of standard operations, or perhaps just in special circumstances. For example, if you employ specialized employees, such as web coders, they might work best in their own space, holding their own hours while still completing their work on time. Even if your business operates the traditional 9-to-5 hours, bad weather can occasionally impact your employees’ ability to make it to the office, and their ability to work from home in such a situation allows you to maintain your business’ essential services uninterrupted.
In any situation, knowing how to lead a remote workforce is important. Like every business model, there are pros and cons that you will want to consider before implementation.
Pro: Save Money
In the case of an entire remote workforce, employers can save on rent and supply costs associated with maintaining a centralized, physical office space.
Con: Lack of Company Culture
When an employer invests in a space to build a company, an office culture naturally develops. Without a physical space to collaborate with coworkers and gain social interaction, workplace camaraderie may wind up lacking. Read more about the benefits of a strong company culture here.
Pro: Nationwide Workforce
You may not be able to find specialized talent near your brick-and-mortar office. Rather than uprooting an individual and your company thereby incurring the cost to relocate your employee, it might make sense to have that person work remotely. It’s also a consideration when recruiting specific skills or talent, such as a sales representative in a new market. Giving an employee the ability to work from home allows your company to have the benefit of a national corporation without the typical cost.
Con: Self-Discipline Required
A central office location gives employees a specific space designed to encourage focus and concentration on work-related activities. While some employees can master the skill of working remotely, others will tend to become distracted in their personal surroundings, and may therefore need more guidance and supervision. Additionally, some employees may not be honest about how productive they really are when working remotely, and that imbalance can create conflict with co-workers and management.
Overall: Make it Work
If your company is going to venture into the remote workforce realm, even with only one or two employees, you have to create a model that leads to success by setting guidelines and expectations up front. Use the best communication tools available for daily tasks, department meetings and more. Regular contact is important! Plan for frequent email communication, phone calls, or consider investing in technology such as GoToMeeting to check in and share information or set aside a specific time each week to discuss goals and progress. These check-ins will also provide the opportunity to keep remote employees in the loop and recognize them if they are doing outstanding work, which should help them feel included in the team.
If your company is itching to give this type of workplace model a try, ease into things and test the waters. While you don’t want to be too eager to move away from a model that is already in place and working well, you can start with a little flexibility and allow your employees to work from home for half a day on occasion.
Still curious if a remote workforce is the right fit for your company, or if there may be other cost-saving opportunities available to your company? Feel free to contact WorkSmart Systems if you have any questions!