The Great Remote Working vs Office Debate – 2021
Over the past decade, we have started to see the further introduction of remote working in companies across the globe. Pioneers in this area will attest to its benefits for both people and businesses alike, but what about for all the companies who had no choice but to adopt a remote strategy?
This growing debate was further fuelled by the Covid-19 pandemic which has plagued the world since the beginning of 2020. The pandemic has forced many companies to adopt the remote working approach and it has become a fan favourite for workforces worldwide who want to continue with this setup permanently.
In a recent study, it was declared that 58% of employees are now considering searching for a fully remote role in the post-Covid area. It is clear to see the multitude of benefits that can arise for individuals arising from remote working measures that we will discuss further below, but it is also imperative to view the situation from the employer’s standpoint.
In general, many businesses will require their workers to return to the office to return to full capacity but for those who can adopt a remote working strategy, it is important to conduct research into how this might be a suitable arrangement for both the employer and the employee.
As Covid restrictions begin to ease globally and this debate is set centre stage for many companies, here we take a look at the arguments to be had for both scenarios in the modern working world:
Why Choose Remote Working?
Wider Talent Pool
One of the major benefits for the employer from the prospect of remote work is the wider availability of workers through a larger talent pool. Due to the fact the employer doesn’t need the employee to be physically in the office, this opens up the opportunity for a business to hire a candidate no matter where they are on the globe. As for recruitment, companies have begun looking further afield for their ideal candidate with many professionals and workers readily available worldwide.
At AA Euro, we understand that recruiting for remote-based professionals comes with a number of additional considerations and challenges that do not exist in traditional recruitment. If you are considering adopting a remote working policy, take a look at our solutions here.
One of the major fears for many employers, when it came to adopting remote working strategies, was that workers wouldn’t be able to get the same amount of work done at home as they would in the office. This is most certainly not the case with employers actually noticing an increase in productivity compared to levels pre-covid as 52% of Irish businesses reported a total improvement.
Evidence has shown that while remote workers do tend to take more regular short breaks throughout the day, their time spent working is far more productive than in-office levels and are 17% less distracted making it easier to perform tasks more efficiently. The myth that employees will become lazy if they remain remote has certainly been quashed over the last 18 months.
A major factor that has been an issue within workforces even prior to the Covid-19 pandemic is mental health and workplace anxiety. Ireland had been reported to have the third-highest rate of mental health illness in Europe prior to the pandemic, and a major contributor to this had been workplace induced.
One critical benefit arising from the remote working procedures is the large-scale improvement in mental health across the globe with 82% of employees reporting noticing a substantial positive difference in their mental wellbeing.
Workers have also reported an improvement in their work-life balance as people working from home are considered 4 times more likely to enhance the balance between their personal and professional lives.
Businesses that are remotely enabled have seen a mass decrease in various costs since adopting this form of a working strategy. Firstly, there are the time costs which have been greatly reduced throughout the pandemic given the lack of workers commuting to and from work every day, not to mention the environmental benefits of reducing the number of cars on the road.
Working remotely saved Irish workers an average of 58 minutes per day with 39% of people noticing pronounced physical and financial benefits from working at home. Another key benefit to employers is the amount of financial savings accumulated given the lack of overhead costs given workers are not in the office.
While companies have had to spend time and money enabling and setting up the remote working process, through the introduction of new systems, training processes, and more, the cost savings have been pronounced for many companies around the globe to consider adopting this strategy full-time.
Improved Employee Satisfaction & Retention
A major issue for employers going back over recent history is the ability to keep hold of their staff and ensure they are satisfied with the job that they are working. Recent reports have shown that up to 40% of employees working in Irish, UK, or US-based companies plan on leaving their job within the next 12 months regardless of whether they worked in indigenous companies, multinationals, SMEs, or the private sector.
This is highly worrying for the employer, with employees citing reasons such as the ability to speak, diversity, wellbeing, and flexible working practices as some of the key reasons behind their job dissatisfaction. The pandemic as previously mentioned has increased the level of flexible working practices in businesses where such an option may not have been available before. This is having a marked effect on employee satisfaction, morale, and in turn retention.
83% of workers say that they are happier in their job when they have the option of working from home. Employees are also known to be willing to take a pay cut in order to be able to conduct their duties from their own homes. Furthermore, with over 50% of people stating they would switch jobs for a remote working alternative, this is reducing employee turnover and the costs incurred for the business.
Why Choose Returning to the Office?
One of the major issues encountered from working at home is the lack of social interactions that individuals were able to have on a daily basis, as 63% of workers noted a marked decrease whether that be in person or online. While restrictions were in place to limit these interactions at the time, the option is now available to safely return to some offices so should we not take this opportunity?
Social connectivity is a key aspect of everyday life and is one of the major factors behind overall job satisfaction, wellbeing, and workplace happiness. While the pandemic has seen the introduction of applications such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, etc. it’s not the same as being able to interact with your colleagues in person.
Workers will also find it easier to collaborate on daily tasks with colleagues as the streamlined communication process between the individuals will help to create a clever understanding leading to improved productivity and efficiency for the company.
Local Economy Boost
Many economies around the world, whether on a local or national scale, have struggled to adapt to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Reduced spending in local areas has been catastrophic to small businesses trying to keep their doors open throughout this very difficult time period. Getting employees back into offices safely will help to generate spending and help local economies recover.
While a full return to office is not expected in Ireland until 2022, those who have already returned have helped localities to recover from what has been a very stressful fiscal period over the past 18 months. Consumer confidence and spending have greatly benefitted from the return of office work which has been outlined by continued growth in key industries.
Over the past almost 2 years, workers all around the world have had to adapt to the necessity of remote work. This has seen employees having to use their homes as their workplaces and convert different areas into suitable spaces to conduct their duties. Depending on the industry, this can be very detrimental to the level of productivity, efficiency, and quality of the work that is completed.
While it is argued that workplaces have seen an overall increase in productivity after introducing a remote working strategy, this may not be suitable for all industries or workplaces. Working from home can provide further distractions and difficulties whether that be the size of the workstation, the atmosphere of the home, etc. Therefore, remote strategies may create certain problems that can impact its long-term suitability for select areas of industry.
The job market in countries all over the world is beginning to return to normality following the catastrophic effects the pandemic had on nearly all businesses and employees. Many industries have seen a return to full capacity, while others begin the process of reaching pre-pandemic levels as hiring levels continue to witness a positive growth trend worldwide. This surge in activity has created the need for employers to hire and onboard new recruits in order to facilitate the growing consumer demand.
Onboarding an employee from a remote setting can be highly difficult for certain industries that require an interpersonal connection. Training methods and job expectations can be hard to outline and implement as in general new recruits will find it harder to get these tasks done. While onboarding can be effectively completed remotely, the majority of organisations will need to take more time to coordinate the correct level of training to get a new employee up to speed in the desired timeframe.
While many people have noted an improvement in their work-life balance after adopting a remote working strategy, it is also clear that many employees are finding it difficult to separate their home and work lives as 48% of employees are finding that they are working longer hours than if they were in the office. This can result in both negative physical and mental effects for the worker.
Working from a makeshift desk in the surroundings of your own home every day can have negative effects on workers further highlighted by one of our recent surveys where 70% of workers wanted either a full or phased return to offices. Returning to an office-based setting is likely to provide a more structured lifestyle desired by many following remote working measures.
Possible Hybrid Solution
One possible solution to the great debate could be the introduction of a more flexible approach to working options. A hybrid strategy when planned carefully is able to combine both the benefits of remote work and a return to the office whilst keeping the employer and employee satisfied. As the effects of the pandemic are slightly subsiding in some parts of the world, now is the time for employers and organisations to carefully examine and design a plan for the most suitable return to work for their employees.
68% of industry leaders have yet to give proper thought to developing a hybrid strategy for their organisations, which is worrying considering the pace at which many industries are recovering from certain pandemic effects. The ability to benefit from both the advantages of remote work and in-office work could be highly effective for companies that can implement a hybrid strategy.
This would also be a very popular option amongst the workforce, as results from a recent survey highlight how just under 70% of Irish employees favour a hybrid working model combination of both being in the office and at home, clearly highlighting their desires to employers. While implementing a working strategy is dependant on varying industry requirements, it is hard to argue the potential benefits that could arise from an effective hybrid model.
Overall, it is hard to definitively decide whether remote working, a return to the office, or a hybrid strategy of both will be the better option for businesses in the future as each option is accompanied by its own unique benefits and downfalls.
While it is clear to see that the introduction of the remote working strategy has been popular amongst employees all over the globe, whether it is a sustainable strategy for the long-term success of businesses in all industries we have yet to discover.
We hope that you have enjoyed our article on The Great Remote Working vs Office Debate.
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