How to Tell if Permanent Work From Home Is Right for Your Company

Although remote work is now the new norm, both employers and employees often have strong opinions for or against it.

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Before adopting a permanent WFH model, here are some questions to answer

The coronavirus pandemic has rocked the world in ways that no one could have predicted. As we toasted to the new year on December 31st, 2019, we didn’t know that hand sanitizer, disinfectants, and facial masks would become such an integral part of our daily lives. In addition to toilet paper shortages, hyper-sanitation, and homemade masks, many of us started working in a whole new way: from our homes. Companies across the globe have pivoted so that remote work could be the new normal, with Zoom calls becoming our primary source of “face time.”

Though remote work is now widely adopted globally, employers and employees often have strong feelings about the arrangement. Remote work is akin to black licorice; people either love it wholeheartedly or detest it with their entire being. Fans of remote work enjoy the convenience, flexibility, and productivity they find working from their homes. At the same time, opponents cite a lack of social interaction, structure, and work/life balance as their main objections. As the pandemic rages on, many employers are starting to ask themselves: Should remote work be permanent? 

Here are some questions business leaders should ask themselves before adopting a permanent work-from-home structure.

Are you saving money?

Having a physical office isn’t cheap. Between leasing the space, paying the electricity bill, and hiring a cleaning crew, costs can quickly soar to tens of thousands of dollars each month depending on the size of your workforce. According to Global Workplace Analytics, businesses that switch to a work-from-home model save on average $11,000 per half-time telecommuter per year. If you don’t need to lease office space for work, it may make sense to operate 100% remotely.

Conversely, remote work may cause companies to lose money in additional technology costs and employee distractions. Business owners should spend time crunching the numbers to discover if there are significant cost savings.

Businesses that switch to a work-from-home model save on average $11,000 per half-time telecommuter per year. If you don’t need to lease office space for work, it may make sense to operate 100% remotely.

Is productivity up?

Employees that WFH can be more productive than office workers. Without long commutes, stressful traffic, and parking nightmares, workers can simply wake up, put on an outfit, and get to work. The time from bed to work shrinks dramatically, and they may feel calmer without the driving drama!

Additionally, many studies have found that employees who WFH are more productive overall. In fact, a Stanford University study led by the Department of Economics found that remote workers found a 13% performance increase than office workers.

Increased productivity may come at a cost, however, in the form of burnt-out employees who feel that they are unable to separate work and home life.

Increased productivity may come at a cost, however, in the form of burnt-out employees who feel that they are unable to separate work and home life.

Business leaders should ponder if productivity increases are worth the risk of burnout.

Are there too many distractions at home?

Depending on your employees’ work-from-home situation, there can be more distractions at home than at the office. For example, kids, pets, spouses, roommates, noise, technology glitches, social media, and lack of supervision can throw employees’ focus off the rails.

While some employees may find a spare bedroom or quiet nook to improve their working environment, not all workers can have a dedicated workspace, and there can be a tug of war between work and home responsibilities.

Business leaders need to figure out if the distractions are avoidable or problematic.

Can you collaborate?

Though technology has made collaborating virtually easier than ever before, it is still not a perfect substitute for in-person interaction. From Zoom to Trello to Slack, collaboration tools are popular amongst modern businesses.

While employees can complete many projects with virtual collaboration, some job types or employee personalities don’t mesh well with telecommunication. If your workers rely on non-verbal communication or need to see certain aspects of projects visually, remote work may not be ideal.

Business leaders need to decipher whether their industry and employees are suited for remote collaboration.

Is there room to grow?

While work-from-home arrangements may save businesses money while boosting productivity, business leaders need to ultimately decide if a permanent WFH model is sustainable and conducive to growth. Questions like, “Will remote work attract top talent?” or “Will remote work allow us to scale?” should be answered before jumping on the WFH bandwagon.

Each business is different, and some may find that permanent WFH isn’t an option for their continued growth. Weighing costs, productivity, distractions, and collaboration effectiveness are imperative to making an informed business decision.

This new “normal” is challenging for all of us, but by answering these questions, your organization will be able to determine how to move forward confidently.

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