More than 43% of the workforce today comprises remote workers, at least some of the time. And remote work is a preferable arrangement for many – no commute time, you can work from the comforts of your home and have more flexibility than your average cubicle dweller, but still enjoy a bunch of corporate benefits unlike freelancers.
Some employers are catching on as well. They know that by allowing the flexibility and autonomy of remote work, they help to create happier workers. Others, on the contrary, are folding their remote programs and bringing their workforce back to the office.
Evidently, the idea of remote work does not appeal to every individual and corporation, partially due to some persisting misconceptions about this kind of work arrangement. Here are just five that are common among both employers and employees.
1. Remote workers are not part of the team/company culture
Companies like Facebook and Google have worked very hard to create office environments that build a very specific company culture. Their employees have access to food services, gyms and all sorts of recreation on campus. All of this is to foster camaraderie and team building.
And this culture that works for them may not be the best for every organization. It’s also quite possible to build a great company culture and motivate people to care about the success of a company while allowing people to work remotely. For example, HelpScout — a 100% remote company – records 81% employee engagement score, a number considerably higher than most traditional companies manage to achieve.
The main point to remember is this: someone can be a valuable contributor to a company and have little desire to participate in regular team building or social activities with coworkers on-site. And allowing such employees to work in ways that suit them increases their morale and performance.
2. Remote work leads to fewer career opportunities and growth
This depends on what you mean by growth and opportunities. Certainly there are certain career paths where remote work could be a hindrance. Team supervisors and executives often need to be physically available to do their jobs effectively. Still, there are often plenty of other roles for remote workers to achieve success and grow professionally. Think horizontal growth that assumes leveraging and improving the skill set you already have in order to take on new responsibilities within the same role.
The key here is creating clear expectations and communicating these. For example, if a mechanical engineer chooses to work from home, their supervisor should inform them if that decision could impact their receiving a promotion to management.
3. Remote work means poor communication
There is absolutely no reason or excuse for remote work to lead to communication issues. Most communications roadblocks that both on-site and remote teams face can be resolved by:
- Getting everyone to use the same tools for communication
- Forcing members of the ‘Old Guard’ to get up to date
- Exploring new technologies to improve communications
- Arranging in person meetings when and where they are needed
Team meetings can be held using virtual tools like Skype or Slack. Chat and email allow for almost instantaneous communication between two or more parties. If you want to keep all your business processes streamlined in one place, just use SWELLEnterprise. You won’t have to be shuttling between a ton of tools or apps that way.
4. Remote employees should be available 24/7
Some workers believe they are expected to be available 24/7 as almost a form of payment for working remotely. Some bosses agree and will ask remote workers to work schedules that aren’t always reasonable.
It’s one thing to ask a remote worker to take on some after hours availability. After all, they don’t have to drive into the office like another employee might. It’s another thing entirely to ask a remote worker to stay on and connected 24/7.
The best solution here is clear communication and managed expectations. The fewer assumptions about work schedules and availability the better.
5. Remote work decreases productivity
If I can’t supervise them, workers aren’t going to stay on task and productivity will drop. While some bosses may feel this way, according to a study published in Harvard Business Review, it’s simply not true. Instead, productivity ticks upward with remote work.
Offices can also be loud, disruptive places. One person speaking on the phone may be doing their job, but also distracting another worker who is trying to solve a complex problem. Remote workers can often avoid these things. They can stay on task longer and don’t need the time to refocus.
Remote work may not be viable in every situation. Still, many of the ‘reasons’ used to criticize this practice are simply based in falsehoods. If you are on the fence about remote work, be sure your final decision is driven by facts.