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The Pros and Cons of Office vs Remote Working

COVID-19 lockdown forced millions of employees to work from home. Businesses of all sizes and shapes adapted remote working models. However, as the nation moves towards the post-vaccination phase, many employers are deciding what's best for their company long-term - remote or back to the office. 

While some organizations are ready to get back to the office, others believe that remote working is going to be the future of the corporate realm. 

The Conflict between Remote and Office Working

The acclimatization of both working philosophies has been a bone of contention and pushed many employees as well as employers to rethink their work-life balance policies and preferences. 

According to IBM’s recent survey, 53 percent of the employees currently working from home during the ongoing pandemic would like to continue working remotely in the post-COVID world. 

However, Nicholas Bloom, a Stanford economist explains that companies can face major productivity disasters as more and more employees will work alongside their loved ones and kids

A sudden shift to the remote working model has brought in several big questions. However, the most basic question is which one is better office working or remote working. So, if you are an employer weighing your options on which of these models will work best for you. 

Let us explore together the monetary perks and other benefits of both office working and remote working models. 

Office vs Remote: Why the Need to Choose? 

Companies are always looking for strategies to reduce their overhead costs while deploying strategies that could maximize their financial growth. Therefore, you must consider which of the two models will work in your favor. 

For example, you can move away from an office working model and adapt a work from home model to cut down expenses. On the other hand, some businesses fear that remote working will adversely affect their performance due to reduced collaboration and interaction between the employees. 

As a sensible business, you must always look for marginal gains and make intelligent business decisions. Therefore, just because a competitor adopts the remote working model or vice versa, you should not jump ships for the sake of it. 

Always consider all the factors to strike a sustainable balance and find the cost-effectiveness of both models in a short-term and long-term perspective. 

Pros and Cons of Working from an Office

Now that you know the good and bad sides of remote working, here are the benefits and drawbacks of the office working model. 

Pros of Working from an Office:

  • A Well-Balanced Lifestyle

It may be convenient for some businesses and employees to see working remotely as the best way to achieve a work-life balance. However, in reality, working from an office allows you to go out there and connect with other colleagues and your environment. This in turn allows you a chance to grow and maintain a better personal life. 

  • Personal Collaboration 

One-on-one meetings at the office and in-person/private brainstorming sessions with peers allow your employees to encourage innovation and creativity. Multiply this one the organizational level as a whole and imagine the positive impact on your company’s productivity. 

While it is ok to mimic these types of meetings on a video call, they are not half as effective and interactive as personal collaborations. 

  • Boosting Employees’ Morale 

You can create a safe office space during the COVID-19 pandemic which will improve your employees’ morale. They will be able to share their experiences, socialize and motivate each other to pull through these exceptionally hard times. 

Image Source: Pexels

Cons of Working from an Office:

  • Increased Expenses

Owning or renting an office space comes at a cost, and working from the office during COVID-19 may require you to punch in more hours with limited employees. Some businesses are even running multiple shifts for a sustainable productivity rate. 

Either way, you will have to pay a higher cost as your overheads spending will increase. This includes utility bills, resource use, employees’ overtime, etc. 

  • Lower Productivity Rate

Many businesses believing working from an office give them more focus. However, research suggests that working alongside a colleague may actually hinder the productivity of your employees. Taking regular breaks, which is possible in a work-from-home environment, can increase your employee’s productivity by 37 percent

Here, you must also consider that the fear of contracting Coronavirus is already stressing everyone out. Your employees will not be able to function in 100 percent capacity if you have not deployed appropriate measures to prevent any outbreak within the office space. 

This again means you will have to invest more in creating new office space designs to follow social and physical distancing SOPs. Plus invest in rigorous health and safety solutions and processes. 

  • Creating a Challenge for Yourself

We are living in a world that requires an agile approach and find innovative strategies to work around the current scenario. Businesses that are reluctant to give up the traditional office working model might create a challenge for themselves.

If you are one then you will have to increase your quality of services to ensure that your customer/end-user, clients, partners, and stakeholders continue to get flawless service as promised. 

Pros and Cons of Remote Working

Let us have a quick look at all the benefits and drawbacks of remote working and office working.

Pros of Working Remotely

  • Cost-Effectiveness 

Working remotely can be a cost-effective measure for both employers as well as employees. For employers, you get to save a lot on facility maintenance, utilities, and other business-related expenses. On the other hand, your employees can help save as they do not need to commute to work day-in, day-out. 

According to Dell, their employees will make an annual savings of approximately $350 per annum. Apart from the monetary advantage of saving to help employers save money and reducing financial pressure on the workforce, there are other benefits such as. 

    • Reducing chances and excuses of absenteeism
    • Reduce your carbon footprint
    • Incentivize longer working hours and your workforce saves commute time. 
  • Wider Talent Pools

Not being tied to a specific location to operate from, your business can recruit from a wider geographical location. Your recruitment teams will have the luxury to headhunt and hire talent and professionals from anywhere in the world. 

While differing time zones may present temporary disjoints, remote working can be beneficial for both employees and highly skilled professionals in the long run. 

  • Better Employee Retention Rate

According to a survey, 83 percent of employees say that they are happier to work with a company that offers an option to work from home. Therefore, adopting a remote working model might help you maintain a happy more satisfied workforce, which will result in a better employee retention rate. 

  • Improvement in Employees’ Wellbeing

Working from home allows the workers to strike a healthier and consistent work-life balance. This will reduce stress by allowing them to work in their comfort zone without feeling depressed or anxious. 82 percent of the employees working from home or remotely report lower stress levels compared to those in an office working setup. 

Image Source: Pexels

Cons of Working Remotely

  • Lower Communication and Collaboration Opportunities

Communication and collaboration are absolutely essential when it comes to ensuring productivity and synchronization between employees and departments. Working remotely may cause hindrances for various reasons. 

  • Time and Money

You will have to invest time and money into deploying adequate remote working protocols and make sure they work like clockwork. Moreover, your IT teams and technical may staff may struggle or take a longer time to fix any technical issues. This will not only cause long downtimes but may also deter your communication channels. 

  • Cultural Barriers

While you enjoy the liberty to hire employees on a global scale, remote working will create a certain barrier due to long-standing cultural and social practices and norms. This can be one of the biggest restraints for certain businesses that are looking to deploy the remote working strategy. 

Casual Conversations vs. Formal Meetings

Yes, you can manage the workflow while working from home. However, you will have to keep a stringent check and monitor that employees are checking in on time and reporting their presence at regular intervals. 

You will have to stay on top of planning video meetings and conference calls to ensure everyone knows what they are doing. Plus, you must stay in touch for the most recent business updates as this is vital for any real-time decision-making. 

Formal meetings in an office setup are easier for catching up with team members, but casual conversations over a video call can be difficult to replicate the same effect. 

If you are a company that is resistant to change, rocking the boat and disrupting the traditional ways, then the remote working model may be a shocking transformation for you. However, transformation does not mean bad in itself. Even if you have to adopt the remote working model forcefully, it may have some unforeseen benefits in store for you. 

The Takeaway: Office vs Remote Working 

COVID-19 and its unprecedented behavior have forced businesses and millions of employees nationwide to rethink their future plans. From business strategies to personal preferences both companies and employees must weigh whether to stick with traditional office working or adopt a more flexible remote working strategy. 

Therefore, consider all of your options including the above-mentioned advantages and disadvantages of each model. However, it is advisable to give it a thorough consideration because sometimes short-term drawbacks may transform into long-term benefits or vice versa. 

Is your company prepared to go back to the office? Read 4 Ways to Prepare for Workforce Reentry

Mark Ko

by Mark Ko

Content Writer

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