Remote work is a growing trend that increased drastically after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced even the most skeptical of employers to at least temporarily allow it. However, despite its seeming prevalence, as of the end of 2021 44% of companies still don’t allow remote work (Findstack).
This is problematic because 77% of remote workers from the same survey say they’re more productive when working from home. Further, 74% of workers say that having the option to work remotely would make them less likely to leave a company. These numbers are significant, and make it clear that now is a perfect opportunity to make changes in your organization that lower employee turnover rates while improving overall morale and productivity.
Improving Work Culture with Remote Work Options
Luckily, many organizations have the ability to offer remote work perks, even if only some departments can take advantage of them. People enjoy options — you can use this to your advantage by offering employees partial or full-time remote work opportunities. However, embracing remote work takes commitment, understanding, and hard work. In this article, we’ll discuss employee work preferences, reasons employers need to embrace remote work in 2022 and beyond, and how to mitigate remote work concerns.
The Importance of Offering Remote Work Options
It’s clear that the majority of employees prefer remote work over traditional in-office work. According to Forbes, the top reasons that people prefer remote work include:
- Better work-life balance
- Increased productivity and focus
- Less stress
- Commute avoidance
To many, the future of work is remote, or at least hybrid, meaning that to find and retain top talent, many organizations need to reconsider current work policies. Now that many people are used to enjoying work from home options or they envy those that get to enjoy remote work opportunities, expectations of this new norm are forming.
Other Reasons to Embrace Remote Work
Expectations of remote or hybrid work policies are not the only reason to embrace remote work for employers. There are a variety of reasons to allow flexible work arrangements that benefit both employees and the organization itself. These reasons include:
- Improved Retention: top talent is more motivated and feels more productive working for your organization.
- Workplace Diversity: hiring people that live in a wider variety of areas.
- Employee Values: employees find the benefits of remote work outweigh the disadvantages.
- Financial and Sustainability Benefits: reduced in-office expenses contribute to both financial gains and a more environmentally-friendly organization.
51% of employees say they’d quit their job in favor of one that allowed flextime.
Finding and retaining top talent by offering remote work options is enough of a reason to offer and promote flexible work opportunities, especially with the current employment landscape. When new employees join your organization and find that you offer a modern, flexible work environment, they are more likely to recommend the company to other great employees.
This cycle of hiring wonderful people will continue as long as you work to improve the employee experience at your company by requesting employee feedback and making changes to accommodate responses.
Not only will a remote work initiative improve the happiness levels of existing employees, but it will also naturally improve diversity in the workplace if hiring boundaries are lifted. Rather than only hiring people that live in the same city as your organization’s offices, open up job requisitions that allow qualified people from any area, or least a wider variety of areas, to apply and work remotely.
This gives your organization access to a much larger pool of candidates that will add new perspectives to your company that lead to improved creativity and innovation. Innovation specifically stems from happy and determined employees with diverse thoughts and ideas.
Many studies, like the one cited above, have proven that employees value remote work and the schedule flexibility and freedom that come with it. What employees are missing out on are in-person interactions, but this disadvantage of remote work seems to be outweighed by the value placed on flexibility. A simple way to make up for this is to offer hybrid work where employees come into the office a few days a week if they choose to. Taking steps like this to improve morale and company culture go a long way among the workforce.
Because employees place such high value on remote work, it’s important to also look at the pros and cons for employers. The few disadvantages of remote work for the organization itself include security and productivity concerns and lack of insight into what employees are doing day to day. However, these can be easily mitigated with the right tools and processes included in a remote work policy.
Financial and Sustainability Benefits
$11, 000 is the potential yearly savings per part-time employee allowed to work remotely.Everhour
By transforming your organization into a completely remote workplace, you no longer have to pay for an office space or the infrastructure that goes along with it. However, for most organizations, surpassing a physical office altogether isn’t possible. Instead, many organizations are taking the hybrid approach, where some employees can work remotely either full or part time, and others still show up to the office every day.
Less employees in the office every day means less commuting and less energy-consuming on-premises infrastructure, saving your organization money and making your operations more green.
To take the next step and modernize your organization by moving to a more flexible work environment, there are a few considerations that need to be made. Think about what teams in your organization have the ability to work remotely, how often you’re willing to allow remote work, and how you can mitigate any remote work concerns.
Mitigating Remote Work Concerns
Remote work policies differ between organizations due to varying structure and needs, but remote work concerns are similar no matter who you ask. Those concerns are the same as the disadvantages mentioned above, and they include:
- Security issues
- Lack of insight into employee activities during work hours
- Decreased productivity
Security is a main concern around remote work, because employees might use personal devices or public networks to get work done, or they might work from a coffee shop where anyone can take their device and steal information. These are all very real and legitimate concerns to have, but there are ways to reduce or eliminate some of the risks associated with remote work.
All it takes to handle these concerns is implementing a tool like the JumpCloud Directory Platform, which allows IT to set up conditional access policies, enforce password policies and multi-factor authentication (MFA), and push Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies out to personal devices.
These policies can keep users from accessing organizational resources from unknown devices and insecure networks, remote lock and wipe lost or stolen devices, protect devices with layered security, and secure personal devices. Although remote work does add new security challenges to your organization, the fact that one tool can mitigate all of that risk for you makes the decision a lot easier.
Lack of Insight Into Employee Activity
On top of security concerns, many organizations and managers have concerns about what employees do during the day if they aren’t working within an office. The concerns range from employees engaging in non-work-related tasks during work hours, or simply not being as efficient as they need to be. While some of this can be avoided by changing your overall attitude toward remote work, some of it needs to be mitigated with tools and processes.
Think about it this way — you hired your employees for a reason. Trust is an important part of any organization, and especially so in a remote worker relationship. If you don’t trust that employees are doing what they’re supposed to, have a conversation with them or put new goals in place that will help you both keep track of milestones and deadlines. Don’t take the micromanagement route; rather, put processes in place to help employees succeed in the workplace, whether it’s remote or in-office.
Past that, if you want to better control access to organizational resources and/or monitor work-related information, putting a modern tool in place to handle this is a great option. Tools like Directory Insights™ and System Insights™ make monitoring work-related events and devices a breeze.
The lack of insight into what employees are doing comes with an assumption that remote worker productivity is lower than that of in-office workers. However, earlier we mentioned that 77% of employees say they’re more productive when working from home, so this assumption needs to be treated as such until it’s a proven fact.
If you find that remote employee productivity needs improvement, consider putting new processes in place to keep track of the work that’s getting done at whatever interval you choose. Maybe you want employees to report on progress daily, weekly, or monthly — create a timeline for communication and discuss it with your employees.
You can expect remote workers to work a bit differently than in-office workers, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. People working from home have distractions, but so do in-office employees. Instead of workplace chatter, loud noises, or in-office visitors, remote workers deal with distractions like household chores, children, and/or pets. Just like for in-office workers, as long as these distractions are minimal and don’t detract from productivity too much, they don’t need to be seen as a concern.
On top of that, some remote users might work better in bursts, while others may stick to completing a steady stream of work from 9-to-5. As long as deadlines are being met and the work meets your expectations, remote worker productivity doesn’t need to be a concern either.
The Outlook on Remote Work: 2022 and Beyond
61% of remote workers expect to be working hybrid for the next year and beyond, and 27% anticipate that they will work fully from home (Everhour). Especially as the COVID-19 pandemic continues and new variants surface, people will continue expecting and wanting to work from home. Even post-pandemic when everything is under control, the foundation for remote work will be expansive, and many people will not want to give up the freedom and flexibility that comes with it to go back into the office full time.
Now is the best time to embrace remote work for employers — create a remote work policy to show employees that you want them to enjoy the same workplace flexibility that many of their peers get. On top of that, save capital, improve retention, promote diversity, go green, and enjoy the positive ROI that results from this initiative.