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Is Remote Work Better in the Long Term?

Over these past couple of years, many of us have gotten used to remote work. In fact, there are many job seekers who are only accepting roles that are one hundred percent remote. Until recently, the standard of work across many industries has been in the office, on location, no questions asked.

So what changed? 

Certainly, the pandemic has played a huge role in fostering remote work, but that isn’t the only thing that has hit the labor market. Now with “The Great Resignation”– a phrase referring to the trend of a mass amount of employees voluntarily resigning – things have changed and companies have had to adapt. But is it for the better? 

As someone who works fully remote, I have my own bias, and it’s made me want to really explore the pros and cons of remote work from both the leadership and the candidate side.

Remote work from a leadership perspective.

Pros:

In the short term, studies of remote work models have shown that productivity has increased.

My best judgment thinks that this is in large part due to the removal of daily distractions that suck up time: no commute, less “water cooler talk,” no loud desk neighbors on the phone to break concentration, and employees are in the comfort of their own home.

With all of these pros, remote work seems like a huge win. 

Possible Cons: 

What worries many in leadership is the uncertainty over remote productivity in the long term.

Yes, studies have shown a lift in short-term productivity in the U.S. by 5%, (mostly due to savings in commute time), but what will the trends show after 5 years, 7 years, or a decade of remote work?

Will it be a constant uptick in productivity? Or will productivity become stagnant or decrease over time? 

Companies remain wary while they wait for time to test remote work’s impact on their long-term outcomes.

Remote work from a candidate’s perspective.

Pros:

At the start of the pandemic, I hated remote work.

I missed my coworkers, going into the office, and talking with all my teammates. But things have changed. My experience working fully remote has been fantastic.

Similar to the pros listed above, it’s been great having more time back.

With the time I save on my commute, I’m able to get things done. I’ve grown to love my home office and saving money on gas and a work wardrobe.

Cons:

Remote work is not for everyone.

I think the biggest question for whether long-term remote work is for the better is to take a look at how a remote lifestyle affects employees physically and mentally.

I am lucky enough to have a separate room in the house as my office, which allows me to effectively separate my work life from my home life. But what about people that don’t have the luxury of a separate workspace? What about those who are at home with young kids and are continuously distracted? 

If you’re trying to work from home, constantly being distracted and answering emails after work hours, certainly, these and other factors can take their toll if there aren’t parameters in place for employees to take care of themselves, physically and mentally.

If you can remember at the start of the pandemic in 2020, no one was allowed to leave their house except for essentials. That certainly made it hard to separate home life and work life for all of us. Balance and boundaries are key to determining whether a remote model will be better for employees in the long run.

Creating company culture in a remote or hybrid world.

Regarding working from home, productivity is the looming question on everyone’s mind. With the switch in culture that moved from in-office to remote or hybrid work, candidates are moving roles a lot more frequently. Not because of what they think of their coworkers or their manager, but because of what types of flexibility and benefits are offered and how they value their role. 

One thing is certain, remote work is here to stay, especially in a candidate-driven job market where flexibility is key.

It is apparent that company leaders need to come up with creative models for the future–whether that be fully remote, hybrid, or an “in-office with flexible options” plan. It’s important for companies to still work to create an environment to keep their employees motivated, whether they are in the office next door, or a hundred miles away.

The biggest question for leadership considering remote work options.

One thing many people can agree on, if employees don’t feel valued and aren’t given the autonomy or trusted to do their work, productivity and employee satisfaction will be a challenge.

With remote options being an inevitability for the foreseeable future, the biggest question leadership needs to consider as they move forward in their 2022 recruiting plans is how to create a lasting workplace culture in a hybrid or remote world?

Can you build community in a virtual meeting? Can monthly company meetings be as informative and engaging to the remote worker as they are to the in-office employee?

Contact Versique for your ultimate recruiting solution.

The times are not changing, they have changed. It will be interesting to see how the market reflects and adapts to these changes. Is this all for the better? Or will we continue to adapt to remote options in new and different ways?

For candidates looking for their next role, or companies looking to fill an open position, contact Versique to discuss how our team can help you find solutions.

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