THE PROS AND CONS OF REMOTE WORK
Post Covid-19, the world came to grips with new ways of working. Pre-Covid-19, the corporate world was highly structured and, excepting unusual circumstances, required employees to be in office full-time, i.e. Monday through Friday, 8am to 5pm, with some companies mandating even longer hours depending on the employee’s job description and industry. Both the finance and the legal industry were known for its strict adherence to office times and overtime. Covid-19 changed all of this because for the first time ever, having people physically in office was just not possible due to global lockdowns that necessitated everyone who wasn’t an ‘essential’ worker or in an ‘essential industry’. Employees and employers had to navigate the tricky territory of managing, maintaining, and sustaining jobs and careers from home while contending with the challenges of limited ‘office’ resources and comforts at home, having to take care of children and sometimes even home-school them, all the while being sequestered to their homes and trying to maintain some semblance of sanity too. Finding the right work-life balance and setting boundaries was near-impossible initially due to how unprecedented the circumstances were, especially when your bedroom became your office as well as where you slept. It can be hard to separate life and work when there is no ‘physical’ separation of the two.
It was also a great proof of concept as it showcased that in some industries and companies, that remote work could be equally as efficient and successful as working in an office. Employers had to come to terms with the fact that post-Covid-19, employers may not want to return to the office, and especially not full-time. The pandemic highlighted several pros and cons to remote work. One of the biggest was reduced commuting time for a lot of employees who spent a large percentage of their day travelling to and from work. En masse, this had and continues to have a positive impact on the environment too, with less transport being used as frequently to major City business districts. This gives employees more time to prioritise at-home tasks so that they can focus on work when it matters. Some of the other major pros to remote work include flexibility, lower overhead costs for companies, an increase in employee productivity and overall employee satisfaction. Remote or hybrid (a combination of in-office and remote work) jobs have become increasingly popular and can be seen as employee perks and a good way to increase your talent pool for future roles and employees. Remote work has also been proven to reduce employee absenteeism too due to the removal of commuting etc.
On the converse, some of the cons include the deployment of ‘remote working policies’ and the effective and successful management of remote employees – as virtual communication and collaboration cannot fully make up for the real deal. Outside of these, some companies also struggle employees being distracted at home, not all having access to the same technology resources as well as the inherent cybersecurity risks that being connected to other networks can lead to. Employees can also feel isolated when working alone for extended periods of time. Ultimately though, successful remote working requires transparency, accountability, discipline, and trust on both the part of the employer and the employee.