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Remote Working vs Office Working

What will 2023 bring?

In the first half of 2020, the world faced unprecedented scenes, coronavirus was forcing the world into lockdowns and companies were forced to find ways to continue operating without having their workforces reporting into their offices. Enter remote working, remote working isn’t a completely new concept and has been around for a long time, however there had been a general distrust of remote working. A belief that outside of the office, distractions would cause productivity to be down and would enable some employees to take advantage of the system. Covid changed this with employers having no choice but to embrace remote work and studies have shown that in a lot of cases productivity increased.

As 2022, came around the world started to return to normal and with that the so called “new normal” was replaced with companies returning to their old ways, starting to bring their workforces back into their offices, seeing the benefits of having their workforce all in one place. This wasn’t always met positively by the workforces, with some people preferring to continue to work remotely. Reports suggest that employees at Apple even launched a petition against the firms return to office stance.
So, which is the best approach?

Remote Working

Increased Productivity – As we have already touched on studies suggest that overall productivity increases when working from home, with less distractions from co-workers or office life.

Improved Work-Life Balance – Employees who work remotely have an improved work-life balance. Not having to commute to an office gives them more time to spend exercising or with friends and family, this can have a positive effect on their mental wellbeing, a topic that is becoming more and more important to organisations.

Access to a Wider Talent Pool – The benefits of remote working aren’t just limited to the employees. Employers can take advantage of a much wider talent pool as they are no longer limited to people in a commutable distance to their office. This could be vitally important especially at a time when talent pools are getting smaller. A wider talent pool could also be beneficial financially allowing you to recruit from areas where salaries are slightly lower, for example someone in the north of England is likely to expect a lower wage than someone in London.

Lower Operational Costs – If your workforce is working remotely, then you don’t need as large a physical office. This will lead to savings in rent, tech and furniture which could be reinvested into other areas of the business. Remote work also puts less limitations on the growth of the business, you are no longer limited by the capacity of your office space leading to easier decisions around growth.

Lower Risk of Office Dramas – With your employees working remotely there is less risk of water cooler gossip and office drama creating a negative working experience, potentially hampering productivity and leading to you ultimately loosing members of your team.

Office Working

Consistent Work Environment – In an office space you have complete control over your employees work environment and can ensure that it is consistent across the workforce. Ensuring that everyone is in a space that is conducive to being productive. It is also a lot easier to incorporate new hires into the way of working with a consistent office environment

Collaboration – A collaborative workforce can be very important in idea generation and for maintaining productivity levels and despite the technological improvements and rise of video conferencing the reality is that collaboration is still a lot easier in person.  

Culture – It is a lot easier to instil the culture of an organisation onto its existing workforce and new hires in an office environment.

Team Building – Employees can become isolated when working remotely, which can be detrimental to there mental wellbeing. Office working allows employees to make human connections and feel much more part of a team environment.

Management - Office working allows for easier management handling, progress updates and meetings can be much more informal and conversational in an office setting than the formally organised meetings that have to take place over video conferences when employees are working remotely.

Hybrid Working

There isn’t a one size fits all approach. Its quite clear that there are benefits to both the employees and the employers of operating either remotely or in an office. What suits one business may not be appropriate at all for another and each business must take the time to consider what elements are important to them and their workforce before implementing an approach. 

One approach that is becoming more and more common is Hybrid working. This is essentially a hybrid of the two approaches and involves employees working in the office for a set number of days during the week and then working remotely for the remaining days. This allows for the best of both worlds; employees can benefit from the improved work-life balance involved in remote working whilst still being able to work collaboratively and as part of a team with days in the office. Employers can take advantage of a wider talent pool and an increase in productivity whilst still being able to instil the organisations culture and maintain easier levels of management handling. However, it does mean that you will potentially have higher technology costs with employees needing set ups both in the office and at home and you will also be paying for office space that isn’t necessarily in use.

What will 2023 look like?

The debate on Office working vs Remote working isn’t going to stop anytime soon and hybrid working is likely to continue in popularity with employers looking to find a best of both worlds approach. Employee Wellbeing is likely to become more and more important to employers and compromises are likely to continue to be made to ensure that their employees wellbeing is looked after. The reality of the job market at the moment means that talent has the ability to be choosier when selecting their next role and companies that do not offer some form of Hybrid working are being left behind in recruitment and will struggle to attract the best available talent. Hybrid working could become an important element of a company’s employer brand. 

The technology available will continue to improve to facilitate more and more remote working with improved approaches to video conferencing, team chat functionalities and “bossware” to allow employers to replicate the office environment remotely and allow management to monitor productivity more efficiently, but it is unlikely to completely replace the benefits of a fully collaborative office-based workforce.

The reality is there isn’t a right answer to the question which is better Office Working or Remote Working, employers need to make a decision on what is best for them and their employees going forward, but one thing is for sure if they get that decision wrong it could have a severely detrimental effect on the happiness of the existing workforce and could make it very difficult to attract new talent in the future.

Get in touch with Synchro today to discuss how your approach to remote vs office working could impact your employer brand.

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