Should I hire or allow employees to work remotely?

Every day we hear about another company allowing certain employees to work remotely. The idea seems good. But is it?

While it has become common place to encourage or allow employees to work remotely, recent research might suggest the decision has consequences. Ultimately, doing what makes the most sense for your business will be the deciding factor.  Therefore, it is necessary to take some time to discuss the pros and cons.

On the positive side, allowing workplace flexibility to telecommute can provide your organization many benefits such as:

  • Remote work opens up the ability to attract and retain specialized talent that may not be available in the city where your company resides. Allowing employees in these roles to work remotely expands the candidate pool and increases the opportunity of acquiring hard to find skilled talent
  • The likelihood of increased employee satisfaction, generating a larger pool of candidates and longer tenure from those that join your company
  • Improved employee productivity by replacing the energies and times invested in difficult or lengthy commutes into enhancing the value of your business (Global Workplace Analytics)

On the negative side, recent studies have shown there are definite costs to having more employees working remotely (Harvard Business Review). Including:

  • Reduced human interaction is a regular complaint from remote employees. When employees interact with others in physical environments, it sparks creativity and relationship building that leads to positive outcomes. One study found that chance conversations between co-workers increases performance by 20% and that a very high percentage of employees who have a best friend at work are more satisfied with their job
  • The personal connections that come from face-to-face conversations versus over the phone or email, foster more committed, satisfied, and productive employees. Researchers Mahdi Roghanizad and Vanessa K. Bohns found that one face-to-face conversation is the equivalent to thirty-four emails. Productivity is enhanced by the physical presence of working in the same place.

So, should your company continue to allow telecommuting, or begin to allow employees to work remotely? In this ever-changing world, only you and your company can know what is best given your unique set of circumstances. However, thinking through the pros and cons presented will surely help you make the right decision.

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