Benefits and Challenges of Remote Teams and Employees

By Adam Fard - Lead Product Designer

1 - Benefits and Challenges of Remote Teams and Employees_

Irrespective of how common remote working has become (as of 2019, 66% of companies allow remote work and 16% of them are fully remote), some managers are still hesitant to give it a try.

“How will I know if they are actually working?”

“Introducing remote employees to my team will hamper my work culture.”

“I have never worked with remote teams before, and I am not sure if the employee will communicate properly!”

Sounds relatable?

Well, you are not alone! Even big names like Yahoo, Aetna, and Bank of America are planning to eliminate their telecommuting programs completely. 

This is surprising, especially when you consider reports that contradict this finding. Lee Reams from ClientWhys admits that remote working saves office-related expenses and improves the productivity of the workforce. Along the same lines, Shane Hurley from RedFynn Technologies agrees that remote working allows them to access a larger talent pool. 

And that’s not all. Buffer recently published a comprehensive blog focusing on the joys of remote working. They are, in fact, celebrating the fact that they are a team of 79 remote teammates from different time zones and continents worldwide.

So. what is this chaos all about? Let’s find out.

What Is a Remote Team?

2 - What Is a Remote Team

Quite predictably, a remote team is a team of employees that work outside your traditional office environment. They can work from coworking spaces, cafes, or even from a city that’s time zones away from your own.

The beauty of the remote teams is that you can create them in a range of shapes and sizes. There are companies in which every employee works remotely. One might be from the U.S., another might be from Australia, and a third might be from Russia. There are also companies that allow their on-site employees to work remotely to help them attain a better work-life balance. Let’s not forget that happier employees translate to the happier organization overall!

Thankfully, more and more people are loving the idea of working remotely. The number of people who work primarily from home has grown 115% over the past 10 years. If a report from the International Data Corporation is to be believed, remote employees are expected to make up around 72% of the American workforce by 2020.

So, what makes more and more enterprises and organizations incorporate remote work, and why are some still hesitating in walking this path? Let’s talk about the varied pros and cons.

What Are the Benefits of Remote Working?

3 - What Are the Benefits of Remote Working?

 

Increases productivity

Many employers believe that remote work or hiring freelance contractors will hamper their productivity. Probably because someone who is working from home can get distracted easier: There is a dog to walk, laundry to do, and extended lunch breaks, and the list goes on and on. 

Believe us, this is simply not the case.

When you provide your employees with the freedom to work from anywhere, they are willing to go the extra mile in exchange for that privilege. They feel happier and work with full dedication. This is what was reflected by a recent survey, which found that around 53% of the remote employees are willing to work overtime compared to just 28% of the on-site employees!

 

Attracts top talents

Let’s assume that you are looking for a designer. What is the best way to do that? Should you look for them in Sydney, where your agency resides, or should you hire them from any location as long as they meet your expectations?

Undoubtedly, the latter sounds the best.

Allowing your employees to work remotely expands your talent pool beyond your imagination. According to Stephane Kasriel, the CEO of Upwork, which is a freelancers’ marketplace, “Companies that refuse to support a remote workforce risk losing their best people and turning away tomorrow’s top talent.”

This is because when you work with employees remotely, you are not bound by certain geography or area. You can attract talent from anywhere. This also broadens the horizon of your team, as each employee brings their own perspective and ideas to the table.

 

Increased savings

Have you ever wondered how much an employee costs? Let’s break down the involved costs. 

In addition to the basic salary of your employee, you incur additional expenses in the form of health insurance, commuter benefits, relocation expenses, and life insurance; administrative costs, like accounting, property management, and the like; workspace, which can cost anywhere between $300 and $10,000 per cube; taxes like federal unemployment tax and workers’ compensation taxes; and so on. It is easy to conclude that these costs will come out to be hefty.

But the good news is that you can easily eliminate many of these expenses by having remote workers. This way, you don’t need to invest in an attractive infrastructure. You do not have to incur overhead costs either.

Everything is simple and affordable not only for the companies but for the employees as well.

Research on remote working revealed that employees can save between $2,000 and $7,000 per year on child-care, food, clothes, and transportation compared to their on-site counterparts.

 

Increased attendance

One major benefit of employing a remote workforce is that there are fewer absentees. It is comparatively easier for your employee who is suffering from a cold to show up on video conferences rather than go to the office. A recent study found that 75% of remote workers will continue working even in the event of weather-related disasters, flu, and terrorism, of which only 28% of on-site workers were willing to do … All right, obviously, you are not going to work during disasters and unforeseen events, no one does that. But this finding is enough to gauge the level of commitment and dedication that a remote worker exhibits toward your company. What more can you ask for?

Challenges of Working Remotely

4 - Challenges of Working Remotely

Although working remotely is convenient and all, it has its fair share of challenges as well.

 

Communication

When teams are working remotely, communication could pose a big challenge. You might want to have a video call with your employee, but you can’t because they are asleep. 

Situations like these make it tough to communicate and coordinate, which could affect the work progress.

Solution:

Modern problems need modern solutions! One of the tips for working remotely is to make use of project management tools like Slack, Asana, and Basecamp to manage your teams effectively. Enhance communication within the team with the help of Google Hangouts, Skype, and similar tools.

 

Security

Security is one critical challenge of remote working. According to a survey conducted by Apricorn in 2018, one-third of organizations reported a data loss due to mobile working.

Furthermore, since employees use their own hardware, it becomes difficult for the organization’s IT teams to manage and support varied devices, which creates loopholes.

Solution:

The best way to tackle this is by eliminating the probable points of vulnerability. Encourage your employees to keep their professional and personal devices separate. You can also provide them with a secure cloud location to store all their business-related information to avoid mixing. Simple practices like maintaining a strong password and enabling two-factor authentication can also go a long way.

 

Tracking

Admittedly, it is particularly difficult to track the performance of your employees when they are working remotely. This is especially true when you pay your employees on an hourly basis.

Solution:

It is highly recommended to communicate the expectations to your employees from day one. Managers can also use time-tracking tools to have a quick look at what their employees did throughout the day.

In the end, it all comes down to trust. Flexible work arrangements work only when you trust your employees enough.

The Bottom Line

Allowing employees to work remotely not only adds the required flexibility to your team and helps your employees achieve a work-life balance, but it also streamlines your operations, gives you quick access to an attractive pool of talent, and saves you costs.

What are your views on this? Do you allow your employees to work remotely? Shout out in the comments below.