Why continue working remotely?
The Worldwide COVID-19 Pandemic has caused us to make many changes in our lives and how we conduct business. A large segment of the population has seen their workplace move from a centralized location to their homes. Now that it appears like the pandemic is winding down, we will be able to move back into the office. I, however, believe that despite the impending end of COVID, we should keep the workforce at home, at least some of the time. In 2019, I wrote a dissertation well before the pandemic, where I found several advantages to Working from Home. to continue working remotely can fundamentally transform our society in employee well-being, sustainability, and lower costs for all stakeholders in the enterprise.
The first reason to continue working remotely is that remote work provides a means for workers to maintain a satisfactory work-life balance (Raghuram & Wiesenfeld, 2004). For Work from Home to be workable for all the stakeholders, remote workers must exhibit self-efficacy regarding their jobs and non-work activities (Raghuram & Wiesenfeld, 2004). the downside of this is that distractions inevitably surface while working from home, and there is no manager to watch over the workers to help them get back on task (Raghuram & Wiesenfeld, 2004).
Workers should minimize the effect of these distractions by exhibiting characteristics such as high self-efficacy and the ability to structure their day to manage interruptions efficiently (Raghuram & Wiesenfeld, 2004). Workers with higher self-efficacy are more likely to use tools such as the Pomodoro System, their calendars, and collaboration tools to help them minimize these distractions (Raghuram & Wiesenfeld, 2004).
Raghuram and Wiesenfeld (2004) found that those who did extensive virtual work benefited from structure their work and non-work schedule. For example, parents could be home when their children came home from school (Raghuram & Wiesenfeld, 2004). To continue working remotely can also improve happiness as remote workers feel that they are in better control of their time, thus reducing commute-related stress (Cloutier et al., 2017).
A company’s costs might also decrease through telecommuting arrangements. The whole idea of remote work, initially, was to cut down on costs. Companies’ desire to cut down on costs was one of the drivers of the telecommuting initiative (Messenger & Gschwind, 2016).
In a remote work arrangement, companies do not have to invest in real-estate for their workers to sit at their desks and work at their computers. Employees can sit in Starbucks (or anyplace) using available resources (Ashford, George, & Blatt, 2007). Another consideration is employee relocation costs. Relocating employees can be relatively high. One company, Nortel, estimated that they save $100,000 per employee that they do not have to relocate (Patterson, Harvey, & Bosco, 2014). With the global economy and an international work pool, telecommuting can save a company substantial money. Patterson, Harvey, and Bosco (2014) noted that absenteeism is quite expensive for a company. The company would save costs simply by reducing absenteeism.
When employees telecommute, they can stay home and work and care for their sick spouse or children. Patterson et al. implied that when the child is sick, the parents can be at home working when they are not caring for their child.
There is also a link between absenteeism and job satisfaction (Whyman & Petrescu, 2015). In their study conducted among British small businesses, Whyman and Petrescu (2015) found a link between companies using family-friendly practices such as telecommuting and job satisfaction—the satisfied employees spent less time off the job, thus cutting down on absenteeism.
Telecommuting cuts down on commute costs and cuts down greenhouse gas emissions (Zhu & Mason, 2014). Zhu and Mason (2014) also pointed out that telecommuting cuts back on the need to drive to work and the need to build new office space. Although their data in this matter is inconclusive, the study’s authors theorized that this could be because remote work had still not proliferated into society. Belgium, however, saw a decrease in greenhouse gases emitted, perhaps due to implementing telecommuting and other eco-friendly commuting (Almeida, Verbist, Achten, Maertens, & Muys, 2014).
Concerns about climate change also increase the demand to lower one’s carbon footprint. To continue working Remotely decreases the need to commute and use fossil fuels helps in the battle against human-sourced climate change (Pyöriä, 2011).
Yes, in remote work, we do have to find different methods of collaboration and team building. We have made strides in that area and collaboration. Team-building tools, such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, Mighty Network, Trello… have made it possible for improved cooperation among remote work teams.
With COVID making its exit (knock on wood), there are also openings for hybrid models where we can continue working remotely but come to the office as needed and go to the restaurant with fellow team members.
So to sum things up, if you own a business of any size and you have been utilizing remote work during the pandemic, continue working remotely! Allow the lowered costs, employee well-being, and sustainability benefits to continue. Consultancies such as Dr. Work from Home can help you with optional efficiency with these arrangements. With these benefits in mind, we offer a consultation at no charge to evaluate and optimize your situation. The link is below.
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Almeida, J., Verbist, A., Achten, W., Maertens, M., & Muys, B. (2014). Sustainability in development cooperation: Preliminary findings on the carbon footprint of development aid organizations. Sustainable Development 22(5), 349-359 doi:10.1002/sd.1553
Ashford, S. J., George, E., & Blatt, R. (2007). Old assumptions, new work: The opportunities and challenges of research on nonstandard employment. The Academy of Management Annals, 1(1), 65-117. doi:10.1080/078559807
Cloutier, S., Karner, A., Breetz, H. L., Toufani, P., Onat, N., Patel, S., . . . Carlson, C. (2017). Measures of a Sustainable Commute as a Predictor of Happiness. Sustainability (2071-1050), 9(7), 1214. doi:10.3390/su9071214
Messenger, J. C., & Gschwind, L. (2016). Three generations of telework: New ICTs and the (R)evolution from home office to virtual office. New Technology, Work & Employment, 31(3), 195-208. doi:10.1111/ntwe.12073
Patterson, S., Harvey, D. M., & Bosco, S. M. (2014). Drawing the line when working from home: The benefits and challenges of telecommuters. Proceedings for the Northeast Region Decision Sciences Institute (NEDSI), 887-896.
Pyöriä, P. (2011). Managing telework: Risks, fears and rules. Management Research Review, 34(4), 386-399. doi:10.1108/01409171111117843
Raghuram, S., Wiesenfeld, B., & Garud, R. (2003). Technology enabled work: The role of self-efficacy in determining telecommuter adjustment and structuring behavior. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 63(2), 180-198. doi:10.1016/S0001-8791(03)00040-X
Whyman, P. B., & Petrescu, A. I. (2015). Workplace flexibility practices in SMEs: Relationship with performance via redundancies, absenteeism, and financial turnover. Journal of Small Business Management, 53(4), 1097-1126. doi:10.1111/jsbm.12092
Zhu, P., & Mason, S. (2014). The impact of telecommuting on personal vehicle usage and environmental sustainability. International Journal of Environmental Science & Technology (IJEST), 11(8), 2185. doi:10.1007/s13762-014-0556-5