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Should your staff work from home permanently? The pros and cons

Many employers recently discovered that their company functions just fine with a remote workforce. Was an office even necessary to begin with? With the likes of Microsoft, Salesforce, Google, Twitter and Amazon allowing their staff to work from home permanently post-Covid, you may be wondering if it will work for you.

To help you decide, here are the pros and cons you need to consider.

The Advantages

Financial benefits

An obvious benefit of allowing staff to work from home permanently is the savings on office space, utilities, equipment and supplies. This will probably outweigh the cost of setting up everything needed to work from home permanently. So this money could be invested elsewhere.

More diverse and skilled talent

Remote working also opens up access to global talent. When hiring remote workers, you can make decisions based on skill, rather than location. This is particularly beneficial in the digital sphere where there’s a shortage of specialised skills.

This can also help you build a more diverse workforce with various insights and experiences to make your business better - or even help you enter new markets.

Happier staff

Working from home has long been a perk used to attract and retain staff. It can boost morale, productivity and eliminates stressful commutes.

According to CSO data, the average commute to work is 28.2 minutes. Though it’s higher in Dublin and surrounding commuter counties. This means employees spend around 5 hours per week commuting - or 10 days per year. Without it, employees automatically have a better work life balance - not to mention more family time and nicer mornings.

The Disadvantages

Permanently working from home can also cause problems - largely because there’s less facetime with and between employees. This can particularly impact extroverted staff members.

Sluggish communication

No facetime makes collaboration and communication harder. This can then affect your company’s sense of culture and community.

And although working from home can make employees happier, a remote setting also makes it more difficult to boost morale during low moments. You’ll need to consider new approaches to employee wellbeing and find ways to reduce and overcome communication problems.

If you decide to introduce a permanent work from home policy, you’ll need to carefully implement formal processes and written guides on how staff should communicate. Setting out clear hierarchies and job descriptions should help too.

Slower development of talent

For new and budding employees, a remote environment can hinder their opportunities for learning and development. They can’t ask questions or shadow senior staff as much as they would in an office. So you’ll need to figure out if you can accommodate growth in a new way.

How to determine if its right for your business

Although your company may work from home right now, there is more to consider if you make it permanent.

Employer obligations

To work from home permanently, you’ll need to meet obligations around data protection, tracking work hours and safety at home - you’ll find more detail on them here.

Costs

Make sure to compare the costs of being on-site with working from home. Consider expenses like technology, software subscriptions, retreats, in-person meetings, IT staff and setting up home offices.

Suitability

A permanent work from home policy is best suited to companies in the IT industry. But that doesn’t mean it can’t work for you.

If staff worked from home during the Covid-19 pandemic, look at performance metrics, employee engagement and client feedback. Think about the activities you couldn’t carry out and the problems you encountered. Could they be addressed long-term?

You should also consider how you would promote company culture and how a permanent move to remote work would impact your customers. The likes of marketing agencies would struggle without an office to meet clients in. But then again, staff may be able to schedule more video meetings throughout the day.

Employee sentiment

Though many employees will be delighted to work from home permanently, it mightn’t please everyone.

A recent AIB survey found that 15% of workers want to return to the office full-time, while 44% favoured a hybrid arrangement. However, collaboration and communication are even more difficult for hybrid teams, so this would demand careful consideration too.

A move to work from home permanently would require a change of contract - one that some employees may not be able or willing to go along with. So make sure to properly consult staff and get feedback before pushing ahead with the idea.

Ask Prosperity

If you have any questions about hiring or managing remote staff, contact Prosperity. Our team of recruitment experts are always happy to share their industry insights.

 


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