Remote working in Ireland is becoming increasingly common. In fact, with the way technology has progressed, it’s becoming common all over the world.
In 2018, about 216,000 people in Ireland opted for working from home or a co-working space, and this category of workers has only grown in strength.
When we consider the many benefits of remote working, it comes as no surprise that many people are choosing this option. However, there are just about as many disadvantages to it as well.
Pros of working remotely
Working remotely allows an employee to plan their schedule as per their individual preferences, as opposed to strictly adhering to the rigid schedule demanded by the workplace. Individuals have different needs based on their personalities, so one work schedule cannot cater to everyone. With the flexibility to build your own schedule, you can work at the time and place that suits you best.
With a lot of flexibility in terms of scheduling, you can slot your work time around your free time. This may mean you can spend more time with your family and friends. This flexibility also means you can adjust your schedule depending on your day-to-day changing needs. Remote workers can find more time to spend on their hobbies and improving their skills.
It can be difficult to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle when you are working from an office. Many workers want quick lunches so they can get back to their duties, and usually do not bother to bring a healthy, balanced meal with them. Most people end up eating either a light snack or grabbing a bite from the nearest cafe.
Working from home gives you the chance to maintain a healthy diet, not just because of time but also the availability of a properly-equipped kitchen. The option of being able to take a break whenever you need is also a bonus and encourages the movement you need for staying in shape.
Even if the ‘commute’ is a 15-minute walk to work, it’s time spent on doing essentially nothing, which could be used on other, more productive things. For many people, commute usually means hours lost every day on getting to and from work. Most companies also do not include commuting time in the work hours, so this time comes out of the employees’ time. We can all agree that they could be spending this time on something more productive. Not only is travelling annoying, but it is also exhausting.
By working from home, you can avoid this time wastage because you don’t have to go anywhere, and can choose where you’d prefer to work. It is not just better for the individual but also the environment.
In the past, looking for work entailed considering all sorts of factors about the work location. It had to be somewhere you could reach on time, and preferably close to home to cut down on commuting time.
With the option to work remotely, geographical barriers are now nonexistent. All you need is an internet connection and a computer to be able to work. These tools open you up to all sorts of career choices that are not limited by your location. For the company, this means that their potential talent pool has increased massively. Therefore, this scenario is beneficial to everyone.
With all the comforts and responsibilities of your home beckoning for attention, it would be natural to assume that remote workers would see a dip in productivity and yet, the opposite is true. A study by Airtasker in the US concluded that remote workers are productive for about 10 minutes more than office workers. Remote workers take longer breaks than office workers, but longer breaks are shown to increase productivity.
With all the flexibility in timing and no rush to get home on time, the work-life balance and freedom to do things the way they like, remote workers are proven to show more productivity.
Having a physical office space means office equipment, which can be very costly. By working remotely, you can cut down on all such costs, while also saving money on renting out and maintaining an office space.
For employees, they can cut down costs on commuting.
Check out this guide if you are wondering: Can I claim home office expenses?
When you consider unforeseen crises occurring outside work hours, businesses with a traditional setup usually require all the relevant people to come into the office regardless of the time, or the crisis is ignored until work hours the next day.
In a remote working situation, all relevant individuals can be notified and asked to become available. The most that anyone will have to do to is excuse themselves from what they were doing and open their laptops to attend to the matter. Instead of having the trouble of waiting until the people arrive from all over the place, all relevant employees will be available in a few minutes.
Where a conventional office may take up to 24 hours to respond to any issues, a remote office can do so in minutes.
While working remotely has its benefits, there are several disadvantages too.
Cons of working remotely
Absent corporate culture
One of the biggest disadvantages to a company with remote workers is the absence of corporate culture. Naturally, the main reason would be that you don’t get your employees under one roof very often. This means that they cannot interact in person amongst themselves, and if you have a global workforce, this may be near-impossible. Conveying a company’s culture to people who do not inhabit and share a physical workplace is extremely difficult.
When employees are from all over the world – or even from different parts of the same country – they naturally come from very different backgrounds. This means there may be obvious differences in their values and backgrounds which could make some employees thinking very different from others. While this allows for greater creativity and innovation, it makes establishing the company’s unique corporate culture very difficult.
Communication may exist over the internet, but a large part of communication involves body language and non-verbal cues. With remote working, this non-verbal communication loses its significance since nobody is around to see it. Thus, judging the atmosphere and mood is difficult.
Additionally, with all communication taking place over the phone or the internet, it may be difficult to reach someone in an emergency. It is easier to get up and walk to another room in the office than to call someone who may not have their phone with them.
Dependence on technology
Communication aside, remote working means that all work is dependent on technology. Remote work relies on the availability of a personal computer and a working internet connection. If your personal computer or internet connection develops an issue, you would not be able to work. In a physical office space, you could easily switch to another computer and be able to access all your work since files are usually saved on a network drive; doing this may not be possible at home.
The dependence firms have on technology when it comes to remote working could raise some security challenges. Working through services and apps provided on the internet means that your data would become available to them. Such services and apps could pose a problem for firms that manage sensitive information, as they cannot afford even the smallest security breach.
While productivity is shown to increase when working remotely, the likelihood of there being more distractions is still high. With all the responsibilities people have at home, it is difficult to be able to create discipline if employees are not 100% focused on their work.
Discipline can be a major factor for many firms since it is a measure of dedication and productivity. With remote workers, you are not only unable to tell if they are disciplined or not but also unable to fix the problem if it happens to arise. You may have to change the hiring criteria of your business if you are thinking of hiring remotely.
If you have a team of remote workers, it can be quite difficult to manage them. Not only is communication an issue, but because everyone has different schedules, it may be difficult to get them to gather in one place. When employees do not meet each other frequently, it creates a trust deficit.
Since there is a lack of one-on-one, in-person interaction, the sense of community fails to establish between the employees. They may also have cultural and moral differences that may become barriers.