Returning to the Office, Remote Work, or a Hybrid Model?
Employers are split on whether or not they intend to bring all of their employees back to the office, especially with the pandemic still a worldwide threat as countries work at different paces to stamp it out. Here are some of the upsides and downsides of staying remote.
Pros of Remote Work
At least in theory, remote work truly allows the "life" in work-life balance. Many families spent more time together during the pandemic. Workers had the comforts of home while finding ways to be productive. Gaining an extra hour a day, American workers (who spends an average of 26 minutes commuting each way) could spend their time how they pleased while working from home, instead of sitting in traffic.
On the other hand, research suggests that many employees that transitioned to working from home are in fact working more than they did before. Though this might mean higher productivity, these extra hours need to be carefully balanced, and managers would do well to encourage employees to take advantage of the flexibility offered by remote work.
Moving to a completely digital setup in 2020 benefited businesses by creating efficiencies in workflows and project management. Contractors and part-time employees could be easily synced with the rest of the staff without gaps in interaction, a significant and beneficial shift.
Cons of Remote Work
Remote work can be challenging in workplaces that rely on close collaboration or that enjoy a strong onsite company culture. Ordinary interactions at the coffee pot or water cooler were no longer possible, and creative work that benefitted from in-person brainstorming sessions or whiteboard mapping has suffered. That physical separation can have the effect of making team members feel isolated, and result in a breakdown of communication.
With low employee visibility, organizations have struggled with reliability and retention. While some people thrive in a work-from-home environment, many are faced with distractions leading to a loss of productivity. If not prepared for remote work, new hires and trainers alike can struggle with onboarding well. Finally, higher rates of burnout, turnover, and disengagement are inevitable without proper work-from-home preparation.