Should Companies Think of Remote Work in the Long Term?

For the time being and perhaps well into the year 2021, we may not be able to work like we did before the COVID-19 pandemic hit us and changed our worlds forever. Prior to the pandemic, we did not know words like ‘quarantine’ and ‘social distancing’, but now, these are routine terms for us, and we hear them 24/7 from local news to international broadcast stations. These are not just routine words for us, but they also require that we change our lifestyles too. 

When the pandemic hit us all by surprise at the start of 2020, we were forced to lock ourselves in our homes and enforce social distancing rules of maintaining a six feet difference between two people. In places where the COVID-19 transmission rates were exceptionally high, that is, greater than 7%, countries went into lockdowns. Lockdowns forced us to stay inside of our homes and go out when absolutely necessary, such as going to the doctor, etc.

In such circumstances, it became virtually impossible for companies to operate as they would under normal circumstances. Therefore, most corporations enforced a remote working policy. 

Remote Work

Remote work or working from home entails that physical offices of companies close or are no longer operational and employees (executive and management) work from the ‘comfort’ of their homes. Or they cannot or are not required to work on the company’s premises but can continue working from everywhere else. 

Need for Remote Work

Most companies were forced to introduce remote work since social distancing did not allow for regular office capacity. Thus, to prioritize employees’ health, remote work was introduced. 

But the question is, should they continue working remotely? Facebook, for instance, announced in July 2020 and has adopted a remote working policy, and by 2030, the company wishes that at least half of its 50,000 employees work from home. Prior to that, Twitter too, allowed its employees to work from home or work from places where they feel most productive and creative even after mass vaccines are available. Soon after, other Big Tech companies, such as Apple, Google, Microsoft, and relatively small start-up tech companies, such as Careem and Uber announced remote working policies for their employees. 

So, what is it that prompted these companies to delve into unexplored charters? The answer to that question could be that they prioritize their employees’ safety. It is true that COVID-19 vaccines may be available by the end of 2020, but they may not be available to the masses in all parts of the world, and these companies have offices all over the globe. Secondly, the pandemic has shown them a new ‘normal’ for our lives, and thus, they have understood that in order to stay relevant and progress, they must adapt to the changing winds of time. At this time, remote working seemed a workable solution to an unprecedented problem, so they introduced and adopted it.

Nonetheless, prior to adopting the policy, they must have weighed their options, and therefore, the following could be the probable benefits of teleworking.

Benefits of Remote Work 

Remote working has numerous benefits, but we’d be exploring the most feasible and viable benefits that the new way of life hosts for employers. 

 

Companies Save Money on Employees and Entertainment Costs

 

Real estate prices rise exponentially, and they rarely come down, as a consequence of this phenomenon, corporations are forced to spend a whooping amount of their revenues on renting or purchasing office spaces offices. In addition to it, once they make the investment, they are legally required and bound to pay for exorbitant utilities and maintenance costs. 

However, with remote working practices in place, there has been a significant reduction in an organization’s operational costs. A recently published article on Forbes states that a US-based medium-sized business saves about $11,000 a month on operational costs due to remote work. 

Moreover, the big tech companies, often offer free food and entertainment services to their employees. However, as employees began working from home, such expenses also ended. 

Thus, remote work has proven to be inexpensive for employers.

 

Employees Are Far More Active

 

While remote working, employees do not have to drive to their offices, therefore, there’s a less likely chance that they will take leaves from their office. According to a study conducted by the Harvard Business Review, work from home decreased absenteeism in corporate offices by a whopping 40%! Less absenteeism means that employees are more likely to be productive during their day in office, which means more revenues for the company. 

 

Geolocation Is No Longer A Barrier To Work

 

The pandemic has been an eye-opener for all of us; it has taught us about human resilience as well as making the impossible possible. Prior to the pandemic, most of us were of the view that some jobs cannot be done online, such as online schools. 

However, as the COVID-19 storm took on the world and countries went into lockdowns, schools transitioned towards online learning and became e-schools.

With remote work in place, an individual’s physical location is no longer a barrier. A person may sit in Japan and his company may be located in Australia, he can still work, as long as he has the proper infrastructure that allows him to do his work properly.

Thus, remote work gives companies the opportunity to scoop for talent from all over the world. 

Is Remote Work Really Possible? 

 

Employees Are Mostly Unproductive

 

With remote work in place, families complained of facing additional responsibilities, such as looking after the elderly and young ones.  Most working parents said that on normal days if they were working from home, their children would be at school, but due to the virus, children, too were at home, which meant that they needed to be supervised. Employees’ problems intensified when both the parents worked full-time, and daycare centers also closed. During such circumstances, financially strong parents were able to hire extra help to look after the children, but that’s a luxury not everyone can afford. 

In addition to it, female employees faced the most brunt of the lockdown and the remote work policy. In developing and developed countries, women were expected to look after their families like they would on a normal day and be efficient at work as well. According to a study conducted by CNN, female employees reported to be stressed and tired-out due to the situation, since the timing of their household duties, often clashed with that of their office work. Therefore, most women reported to be sleep-deprived, depressed, and tired than usual. 

 

Not Every Job Can Be Performed Remotely 

 

Remote work is industry-specific. Tech companies, educational institutions, and in rarest circumstances, doctors can work online, but not everyone else. In some instances, the on-boarding process of new employees becomes immensely difficult as well. 

Therefore, should companies continue working remotely in the long run? 

The answer to that question depends on two reasons:

  1. Does the company have the technology and infrastructure to sustain remote work in the long-term? As stated so before, remote working is not easy. It’s full of challenges for employers and employees. For companies to operate remotely, they must have adequate technical, technological, financial as well as human resources to adopt a long-term remote working policy. A good option in this case would be subscribing to a good coworking space plan. Coworking spaces not only save money but also promotes a collaborative work environment. 
  2. The market structure and the company’s industry. If a business operates in the tech world or in an industry that can work remotely without major challenges, then long-term remote work may be a viable option. 

Usman is the marketing manager at Huddle which is a high-end coworking and shared office space in Lahore enriched with features and amenities designed in accordance with modern-day requirements of students, freelancers, corporate teams, and remote workers.

 

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