The landscape of the modern office is changing from its traditional cubicle set up to embrace more open atmosphere styles. You can see the evidence in the ping pong tables, napping pods, and arcade break rooms of offices like Facebook and Google. But you can also find evidence of office evolution through the absence of employees who aren't in the office at all.

One of the most common modern workforce preferences has become remote employment. This work style has quickly gained popularity, as 62% of employees have now adopted the practice. The trend certainly has a compelling element of appeal that attracts talented, independent professionals, but do the pros really outweigh the cons? Let's take a closer look.

The Good

  • Reduced commute time

Believe it or not, a draining commute is a huge factor of job dissatisfaction. If an employee has to spend hours in the car every day battling through traffic, it can negatively affect their attitude towards work and ability to focus. Reducing commute time has the power to reduce stress in employees, allowing for more productivity and less work-related negativity.

  • Flexibility to work more productive hours

The research on productivity among remote workers is pretty compelling. In one study, 77% reported greater productivity, and 30% accomplished more in less time. While some structure and expectations obviously have to be in place, giving employees the freedom to work when they're most productive and focused results in more work getting done.

  • Reduced costs

Think about the costs accumulated by running an office. Utilities, wifi, coffee, maybe rent if you're part of a business building, and all the other expenses of operating a business. When employees are working from home, a coffee shop, or wherever they so choose, those costs shrink. Even letting employees work remotely just one day of the week could cut back on business costs.

  • Forced focus on performance

A drawback to working in an office is that professional relationships can get political. When someone is working remotely, their review and worth is performance-focused and determined solely by the work they produce in an independent setting.

The Bad

  • Communication can get complicated

A major drawback to remote work is that you can't walk across the office when you need something. When working remotely, you're totally dependent on technology for communication, so if there's some kind of glitch or lack of accessibility to the internet, there's a problem.

  • Face-to-face interaction helps business

Professional friendships that develop between employees and supervisors can be very productive, because it personalizes work functions. In an office, a boss can be more than just a boss, and cultivating close working relationships can stimulate and encourage the work employees do. That can get lost when employees work remotely and the communication process gets streamlined.

  • Almost exclusively individual work

Collaboration on a team can bring out the best performance for some employees, but that gets difficult when remote workers aren't actually together. Remote workers pretty much have to work as individuals rather than in a team-based setting.

  • Lack of routine and structure

For some remote workers, missing out on the shared experience that is a work week can be hard. Having to get up, get ready, and know that someone is expecting you at work at a certain time is a source of pride, accountability, and motivation for many professionals. It can also make management over a work-life balance more difficult, because the line between work and personal life is more easily muddled by the absence of an office space.

Something to keep in mind...

While there are both pros and cons to remote work, it's important to remember that there are different strokes for different folks. You might have some employees who thrive in an office setting while others perform much better remotely. The real takeaway is to be flexible in accommodating the needs of different employees to cater to their strengths and offer an environment of productivity, regardless of whether that's in the office or out of the office.

Published on: Nov 15, 2016