For the safety of their employees, the pandemic forced employers to introduce the concept of working remotely to those who traditionally worked within an office space. Some individuals adapted to this change more easily than others, and some companies needed to use a bit more creativity to make their business model work from remote settings.
So now that restrictions are lifting and vaccines are becoming more widely available, what does the future of work look like?
For Google, it looks like whatever the employees want it to be.
But what about other businesses? Are there instances where working remotely is impossible? Are there times where working remotely could save the company money? Should the employees have a say in where businesses go from here?
We’re going to take a look at the advantages of permanent remote work and see if your employee’s living room is the office space of the future.
Google’s Stance on Working Remotely
Google has long been the employer who chooses to do things differently. From their ski gondolas in the Zurich office to their trademark sleeping pods, they’ve never been a traditional workspace.
They seem to be continuing that trend of leading the industry in creative workspaces as they announced that their model going forward follows the mantra of “flexibility and choice.” They recognize that for some, office space is exactly what they need to achieve their peak productivity. However, they also recognize that for some, time working from home leads to increased productivity and happier employees. Another set of employees might find that a hybrid model works best. Maybe they work from the office one day a week and they spend the rest traveling to different work spots that suit them best.
This stance taken by Google shows their recognition that the one-size-fits-all approach simply does not apply to their employees. Employees are not work capital, but individuals with different needs that will flourish under different circumstances. For some, the best way they can serve Google is when they choose to work from home indefinitely. Some need a coworking space to best collaborate with teammates and stay focused.
Google has given their employees the power to choose what is right for them: whatever that might look like.
The Advantages to Working Remotely
There are a variety of factors that determine whether or not full-time remote workers will be a success for the individual and for the company as a whole. In some industries, remote work isn’t possible; someone providing labor for a roofing company can’t exactly clock in from a home office.
However, since so much of our day has become computer-based — from video calls to group chats to content creation to interoffice and international collaboration — why can’t people work from home? As long as they have an internet connection, some positions can be carried out exactly the same way at home as they would in the office. Employees can work just as efficiently, or sometimes even more efficiently when they work from home.
Here are some of the many advantages of letting people work from home indefinitely.
Remote Jobs Accommodate Some People With Disabilities
Some people from the disabled community were frustrated with how quickly companies adapted to accommodate workers choosing to work remotely since they’ve been asking for those accommodations for years. For some people living with disabilities, a home office is a safer and more productive environment. Working from home eliminates the need to travel to an office — a difficult task for someone who can’t access traditional transportation — and a home office will have less noise and distractions for those who struggle with overstimulation or anxiety. Instead of dressing in clothes that feel restricting and confining, making their way to an office, and struggling to be their most productive during the day, they can get up, start the routine that feels comfortable to them, and start work.
Saving on Office Overhead
Plenty of really successful companies use a completely remote model. If you’re able to completely eliminate the need for an office, you can reallocate that capital in a variety of really impactful ways.
- Pay employees more. When you pay employees more, they feel valued, respected, and will work harder. There’s no better way to build company loyalty than to give your employees something higher than just a living wage; if they’re fairly compensated, they’re going to do everything they can to keep that job. The best candidates will show interest in your company if they feel that their skills will be compensated in accordance with what they’re worth.
- Upgrade employee’s internet. Once you no longer have to pay for internet in the office, you can use those funds to cover the cost of high speed internet for your employees in their home office. If no one has to wait on a faulty router or lagging speeds, collective productivity will increase.
- Invest in programs to increase productivity. With everyone working outside the office, it’s crucial that they’re given all the necessary communication tools they need to work best with their remote team. Find what program works best for you and invest in programs like Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Zoom.
- Hire more employees to increase production capacity. The best way to build your business is by increasing your capacity to onboard new clients. The only way you can handle that added workflow is by increasing your workforce. Now that you aren’t paying rent, you can invest back into the company by adding new employees to the staff.
- Increase web advertising. When you’re not paying for a physical building, you can allocate more money towards finding clients by advertising where they are: online. When you pull in more clients, you’ll now be able to handle the increased workload with your new and more productive employees.
Accommodate Employees With Family
While some parents need a designated company office for their own sanity, some parents find that the flexibility that comes with working from home is extremely helpful; they can rearrange their schedule around pick-up times, doctor’s appointments, and unexpected emergencies that arise.
The ability to help the family is not limited just to those who have kids. If one of your employees has an elderly parent that they care for or their spouse has a critical medical condition, working from home can really help. Instead of worrying from the office about a parent with dementia, they can work with the parent just one room over. They can take breaks to help the parent and just make sure they stay safe.
If they have a spouse with a severe medical condition, they can help them with different therapies or medicines during the day and rearrange their schedule around therapist or doctor visits. This flexibility can have a great impact on their ability to work while also caring for their family members.
Increased Employee Satisfaction
Some people are just happier when they get to work from home. They feel comfortable in their own space, they get to wear pajamas if they want to, or they get to work from the couch next to their dog. An employee doesn’t need a medical condition or concrete reason for enjoying the work from home experience. Some people just enjoy the freedom to arrange their day based on their needs.
Giving an employee the chance to work from wherever they work best gives them a sense of control. They get to choose what works for them and give themselves the environment most ideal for completing their best work. If they feel that their boss trusts them to work well without supervision, they might feel empowered and motivated.
Happy employees are generally productive employees.
Not Restricted to Local Employees
When you choose to hire remote employees, you’re opening yourself up to an infinitely larger pool of candidates. If your employees can work from anywhere, they can also live anywhere. You can have employees across the country, or even across the globe, joining your team, and that is an extremely exciting prospect for your company.
You can have the best of the best, without the restriction of location. You also don’t need to pay relocation expenses if you want to fly someone across the country.
This idea also brings about the possibility of expanding your markets. If you can hire someone in Spain, why couldn’t you acquire clients in Spain?
The internet truly opens up a world of possibilities.
Should You Make the Switch?
Whether or not you choose to go with an in-person, hybrid, or completely remote model will depend on what works best for your business and your employees. You might not work in an industry where working from home can work long-term. Sometimes having office workers is the best solution.
However, no matter what choice you make for the company, consult your employees first. They’re the ones it impacts the most. You want to do what’s best for your business, but your employees are really the heart of the company. You want to make sure they are satisfied, their needs are met, and they feel happy and confident with whatever decision you make going forward.
Author, Artist, Photographer.
Sarah Margaret is an artist who expresses her love for feminism, equality, and justice through a variety of mediums: photography, filmmaking, poetry, illustration, song, acting, and of course, writing.
She owns Still Poetry Photography, a company that showcases her passion for capturing poetic moments in time. Instead of poetry in motion, she captures visual poetry in fractions of a second, making cherished keepsakes of unforgettable moments.
She is the artist behind the Still Poetry Etsy shop, which houses her illustrations and bespoke, handmade items. She is the author of intricacies are just cracks in the wall, a narrative poetry anthology that follows a young woman discovering herself as she emerges from an abusive relationship.