Teleworking is not a new idea. Before the pandemic, more than 5 million US employees worked at least half of the time remotely. During the pandemic, many new technologies and resources emerged, enabling organizations across the board to adapt to the new way of working. Long before the pandemic, it was on the cards of many companies to incorporate remote workin their regular office environment. The pandemic accelerated the process.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 24 million workers quit their jobs voluntarily from April to September 2021. Employee disengagement, burnout, and a collective demand for better remunerations have led employees to seek better employment opportunities. Commute time, well-being, and flexibility are why employees prefer remote work.
According to a Gallup survey (September 2021), 45% of the employees worked from home (25%exclusively and 20% partially). When choosing remote work, employees’ most important benefits are the commute and time flexibility.
Way before the pandemic-induced remote work became a new normal, a Stanford University professor conducted productivity research on 500 employees of a Chinese travel company in 2017 and concluded that remote work leads to an increase in productivity equivalent to a full day’s work. Workers’ productivity increased with saved commute time and the flexibility to work from any location. They also posed less absenteeism and sick leaves. According to Owl Labs State of Remote Work report 2021, 90% of employees think their productivity remained the same or increased while working remotely.
Reduced Office Equipment Costs
Small businesses find it challenging to run routine affairs and invest in developing innovative products. Remote work has allowed companies to save on leased office space, office chairs, desks, computers, printers, photocopiers, and papers. The employees may either use their resources or eliminate the need for some resources such as paper. In the case of the Chinese company mentioned above, it saved almost $2000 per employee on office rent. In Owl Labs report, 22% of companies closed their offices, and another 22% reduced their office space since the pandemic’s start. According to another research by Kate Lister, president of Global Workplace Analytics, on average, a company saves $11,000per annum per employee who works half the time remotely.
Replacing an employee costs a company massively by recruiting new resources and investing in training and development. Meanwhile, it also disrupts the business’s activities, bringing uncertainty. Remote workers are more likely to stay on a job. Companies tend to retain more employees when they offer remote work, increasing employee satisfaction and loyalty. Out of ten, three workers working remotely tend to search for another job if their employer doesn’t allow remote work.
With advantages, there are also disadvantages of remote work. Some of these disadvantages are as below:
Although not particular to small businesses, isolation is a remote work phenomenon equally important for small and large companies. Employees feel disconnected and disengaged, leading to the feeling of loneliness and frustration. Adopting a hybrid approach with some days of remote work and the other at the office is recommended.
Technological Upgrade and Cybersecurity
According to State of Remote Work 2021, 38% of employees said that their employer upgraded technology to allow for collaboration in the hybrid work environment. According to a survey by Ricoh-Europe, small businesses are likely to lose staff over the technical frustrations of remote work. Similarly, three in ten employees working for small businesses found it challenging to stay engaged while working remotely.
Cybersecurity is an integral security feature for a safe online environment with more reliance on internet and telecommunication resources. It is easier for large corporations to invest in cybersecurity as their networking infrastructure is at scale. It is costly for small businesses to secure their online transactions fully.
Organizational culture is imperative for branding and teaching new employees brand values. With remote work, it becomes difficult for managers to train new hires and make them collaborate with other team members in a remote work setting. According to TINY pulse, new hires are 34% less likely to recognize their peers than their counterparts. Similarly, they are 20% less likely to acknowledge company values since they don’t live the culture as their onsite colleagues.
The great shift in recruiting talent globally from online marketplaces makes small businesses compete with global corporations to acquire talent. Previously, it was easier for such firms to hire local talent with limited competition.
According to Owl Labs, 71% of the employees want a remote or hybrid work regime after the pandemic.
In a post-pandemic environment, workers also expect a pay raise if asked to come to the office physically. According to Owl Labs’ report, 58% of employees expect a pay raise if they cannot work remotely.
Besides the direct impact of remote work on internal operations of the businesses, the shift to remote work has also put many companies out of work as workers are no longer traveling to onsite offices. Some examples of such enterprises are street cafes and restaurants in the downtown areas, laundry services, and transportation service providers. Out of all the relocations during the pandemic, 78% of employees moved from urban to either suburb (58%) or rural areas (20%).
Despite the slowdown of the pandemic amid mass vaccinations, many people still want to continue working remotely full-time or part-time. According to Gallup, 9 out of10 employees continue working remotely. The new form of work brings flexibility, saves costs, and allows small businesses to recruit talent globally. However, it requires new tools and managerial techniques to manage a remote workforce to make it productive and cost-effective for the companies.