Why Remote Work Shouldn't Be Up for Debate
Organizations face roadblocks of all kinds. Demonizing remote work or putting in-office work on a pedestal is not the answer, and recent data supports this.
Elon Musk's recent announcement that Tesla employees can no longer work from home sparked a lot of discussions. In leaked emails, Musk told staff who want to continue working remotely that they can "pretend to work somewhere else."
While no stranger to making what some consider divisive statements, Elon Musk is not the only founder who feels that people who work from home "aren't actually doing anything."
The remote work debate rages on
Some company leaders believe long-term remote work is a financial liability. Employees working from home lack productivity, they say. Ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt told CNBC, "I don't know how you build great management virtually." Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon said remote-work culture is an "aberration" that needs to be corrected "as quickly as possible."
Still, others question if this is simply a smoke screen; speculating Musk making a decision that will undoubtedly cause a sizable portion of the staff to spontaneously quit creates an opportunity to get around conducting any necessary wide-scale layoffs. Major brands are already waiting in the wings to poach members of Tesla's expected exodus, Amazon being among them.
That isn't such a crazy theory, as many companies are restrategizing and considering downsizing amid the recent economic downturn.
Remote work opinions aside, I feel requiring staff members to return to the office full-time just as commuter fuel and operating costs are at an all-time high is bad for business. According to Global Workplace Analytics, "the typical employer can save about $11,000 per year for every person who works remotely half of the time." On the flip side, workers can bank between $2,500 and $4,000 more a year working just half of their hours remotely.
During leaner times, savings like these could help both sides better stay afloat.
In the immediate aftermath of Covid-19 lockdowns, many companies found their wings as newly minted remote work operations. While this was a move made out of necessity, more than a few decided to make the shift permanent.
Twitter, Spotify and Facebook are among them. Over at Twitter, Jack Dorsey urged team members to work from home if they so desired in a company-wide email sent last year, noting the positive impact the switch had made on his own productivity levels.
Humans feel comfortable with what they know
The reality is, that working in an office is how things were done for generations. Many who are now in positions of leadership have worked their way up through this system and understand it, find comfort in it, and may assume it is the only way that anything meaningful can be achieved on a wide scale.
Functionally, it's easier to operate within the "status quo." If as a company, you've always been reliant on in-person interactions, overhauling everything to accommodate remote work can seem daunting.
As an app development company, it made sense to use the same online tools we believe in and build for our clients to run our own operations. Of course, as a first-time entrepreneur still in my teens back when I founded my company, I also didn't have the benefit of experience working in an office environment. I had no preconceived notions of how things "should be."
It turned out this lack of experience on my part would be a stroke of good fortune for Chop Dawg in the long run. Having been scrappily founded in the late aughts, we learned long ago to work within our remote-first model. As such, the impetus of early lockdowns did very little to disrupt our web-powered company operations.
Of course, working in an office has its benefits, like inspiring team comradery and more accessible opportunities to build up company culture. But it's also not a failsafe, and simply having a brick-and-mortar does not guarantee the cultivation of strong company culture, a productive workforce, or a successful business at that.
Of course, managing a remote workforce poses its own unique set of challenges. All business models have their pros and cons.
Here are some of the biggest reasons you should embrace remote work at your company.
1. Working with a diverse group of talent
The ability to draw from global talent is indispensable. This means a company can genuinely work with those who most align with their mission; without having to uproot them, either.
Remote work opportunities also set the stage for better workplace equality and more inclusion, too.
Sticking only to in-person work sets physical limitations on who you can hire. Many who are chronically ill or disabled can flourish in a work-from-home environment.
If one has the talent and the drive, remote work provides them the opportunity.
2. Wanting a better work-life balance is not a moral failing
Many studies show that shorter work weeks and less stressful environments actually lead to healthier employees, which is beneficial for businesses in several ways.
Employee burnout is a huge problem, for example. Right now, people are quitting jobs they find harmful to their mental and physical health in high numbers.
People want to live their lives well, with a balance that lets them tend to their numerous priorities both off and on the clock. This should be obvious, and not something to be viewed as a moral failing.
3. Not all people work the same way or have the same intentions
To struggle, strive and create are innate parts of human nature. Most people genuinely want to feel like they are part of a team that is working toward something.
When people have the opportunity to work toward something they believe in or are passionate about, they really come alive. They will do their work regardless of where they are.
Of course, not every person out there has good intentions. That is why it is important to have clear expectations and follow through.
Ultimately, every business operator has the right to run their business however they see fit. And remote work may not be suitable for all scenarios, as some simply can't perform their work-related duties at home.
But let's challenge the popular narrative that the traditional office structure is the only valid or worthwhile one. Either model can be executed at a high level, or poorly for that matter.
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