As businesses continue to evolve and adapt to an ever-changing landscape, the debate surrounding the pros and cons of remote working rages on. So while some studies suggest that almost three quarters of professionals feel happier when working remotely, for instance, others point to a chronic disconnect between managers and employees concerning the benefits of remote work, with many organizations still wary of committing to a ‘work from anywhere’ culture.

So, is hiring remote employees the right move for your business? In this post, we’re diving deep into the intricacies of remote work, weighing the benefits against the drawbacks and helping you make an informed decision about embracing the remote revolution. Let’s get started.

5 Pros of Hiring Remote Employees

Access to a Wider Talent Pool

Remote work has eliminated the constraints of location, allowing companies to tap into a broader and more diverse talent pool. They are no longer limited to hiring within the proximity of a physical office. This diversity is valuable as it brings in fresh perspectives and innovative ideas, enhancing business innovation

The ability to hire employees globally, rather than just locally, is a significant advantage. This becomes particularly useful when expanding into international markets. For instance, if you’re a US-based company looking to establish a presence in the UK, you can hire internationally to access local expertise, gaining a deeper understanding of market trends and nuances.

Increased Productivity

While employees and managers may not be completely aligned when it comes to determining whether remote work is better or worse for productivity, several studies show that those who work remotely feel more productive as a result — in fact, as many as 90% of employees feel they’re at least as productive (if not more so) when working remotely compared to in the office.

A primary reason for this is that remote work empowers employees to work when (as well as where) they feel most productive. Instead of being restricted by rigid schedules, they can usually pick and choose the makeup of their working day: ‘morning people’ can start and finish early, for example, while those who typically hit their stride later in the day can continue working while most others have clocked off.

Cost Savings

Of course, one of the advantages of remote work that most businesses find impossible to ignore is its capacity to save costs. By reducing the need for ample office space — or doing away with it altogether if you’re prepared to go fully remote — you can save on overheads such as rent, utility bills, maintenance costs, and equipment.

But that isn’t the only way remote work can save you money. Companies who work remotely may see a reduction in employee turnover of up to 25%, meaning they’ll spend less replacing them — recruitment can be expensive and time-consuming. Check out this guide from Draycir on all the ways working remotely can save companies money.

Improved Work-Life Balance

As more and more of us were introduced to the possibility of remote work, many of us discovered perhaps its most significant personal benefit: a vastly-improved work-life balance. Remote work removes long, stressful commutes from the equation and allows employees to enjoy a more flexible approach to their work and home lives.

It also enables them to incorporate other lifestyle factors (such as childcare, medical appointments, and even small things like home deliveries) into their day without these impacting their work. This uptick in work-life balance is undoubtedly a boon for employers, too, since a happier, healthier employee is likely to take less sick days, feel more engaged in their work, and ultimately be more productive.

Environmental Benefits

With our society becoming increasingly eco-conscious — 60% of global consumers rate sustainability as a key factor when purchasing goods, for example — many businesses continue to strive to find ways to reduce their carbon footprints and mitigate their impact on the environment.

This is another area where remote work can offer an advantage. When the world shut down in 2020, air pollution decreased and water quality improved — environmental changes that can at least in part be attributed to a shift towards remote working. Removing commutes can cut greenhouse gas emissions, while businesses will have less need to heat and light office spaces.

The Drawbacks

Communication and Collaboration Challenges

While remote technology has undoubtedly come on leaps and bounds in recent years (video conferencing technology is now ubiquitous, cloud computing allows us to access files and information from anywhere, and project management software enables efficient allocation of tasks), it can be argued that it still presents challenges when it comes to communication and collaboration.

For instance, while more than three quarters of meetings are now conducted virtually, it’s not quite as easy to pick up on subtleties of tone and body language, which may lead to misunderstanding and miscommunication. And that’s ignoring the fact that some employees may simply not feel altogether comfortable using video conferencing technology, meaning they might be less eager to express themselves in virtual environments.

Managing Remote Employees

Remote work environments are built on trust. Since as a manager you can’t see your employees performing their day-to-day duties as you would in an office, you need to trust that they’re working productively, managing their time effectively, using company resources responsibly, and generally being a reliable employee.

This trust doesn’t come naturally to all leaders, however, and it can make managing remote employees a challenge. Less visibility of their output may mean less involvement in their work, for example, which can make it difficult to manage their development and measure their progress. Time-tracking software can help with this, enabling managers to gain visibility of tasks and projects their employees are working on.

Security Concerns

When companies were forced to quickly adopt remote working practices in light of the global pandemic, one of the primary concerns of such a rapid shift was security: remote work is heavily reliant on cloud technology, which enables resources and programs to be accessed and shared by multiple employees across the web. But does this mean it’s less secure?

The truth is, cloud services typically offer end-to-end encryption, but that doesn’t mean remote working is fully secure, particularly when employees are accessing company information from their own devices or using public Wi-Fi. More employees working in more locations also means more endpoints, meaning the potential attack surface is theoretically larger.

Isolation and Disconnection

While the flexibility and independence offered by remote working is generally seen as a good thing, it often means employees spending large amounts of time working alone. Many of them may be fine with this, of course (naturally, some employees prefer working independently over collaboration), while for others, feelings of isolation can creep in.

The reality is, while virtual meeting technology has advanced and messaging apps (such as Flock or Slack) are widely used, they simply can’t replicate the natural chatter that occurs in an office environment, from the occasional ‘water-cooler’ conversations to quick-fire work-related questions.

Blurring of Boundaries

We’ve covered the benefits of remote working when it comes to work-life balance, but there’s a potential downside to working from the place you also call home: as an employee, it can be difficult for to separate your work and home life, meaning the lines are often blurred, it’s not always easy to ‘switch off’, and you may end up working longer hours than your office-based counterparts.

Businesses may rejoice in the news that their remote employees might be clocking up more hours at their desks, but they shouldn’t be so fast to celebrate this fact: employees who frequently work long hours and don’t give themselves time to relax are far more likely to experience burnout, which will only hamper their productivity and cause them to become disengaged.

Matthew Willis

A UK-based digital copywriter, Matt is a skilled and passionate scribe with a keen interest in an array of subjects; his varied written work can range from deliberations on advances in the tech industry to recommendations about the top wildlife-spotting destinations. When he doesn’t have his fingers attached to a keyboard, you’ll likely find him hunting down obscure soul records, professing (inaccurately) to be an expert on craft beer, or binge-watching documentaries about sharks.