The Pros and Cons of Staying Remote Post-COVID
Although COVID-19 remains a real threat in the United States, some businesses are already looking ahead to the future. Many people who have been working remotely for months are trying to decide when—and if—they’ll feel ready to return to the office environment.
For some workers, taking their work home has been a wonderful lifestyle change. Without commutes and distractions, some people are happier than ever in their jobs. Others feel isolated and are having trouble communicating with their team members from afar. And lots of people fall somewhere in the middle.
If you’ve been thinking about whether or not to stay remote once COVID-19 has died down, you’re not alone. Many companies are finding out that remote work could be a great option for employees who are interested in staying home indefinitely. But there are definite pros and cons to each option, which you should consider carefully before making a decision.
State of COVID & Remote Work
Not everyone can work remotely, of course, but just about everyone who can has been staking out space for their work laptop at home since the pandemic landed on American soil. Obviously, the main reason for companies switching to remote work so quickly was safety, but the virus may have accelerated an inevitable trend toward remote work in general.
We’re now several months into social distancing, and not too many people are eager to return to the status quo. According to Gallup, just 1 in 4 workers would prefer to return to the office full time. Although some are concerned about safety, about half would like to continue working remotely due to preference. This has companies rethinking their long-term policies, even once the pandemic has subsided.
PRO: Remote Provides More Flexibility & Work/Life Balance
Many people are realizing just how convenient it is to skip the commute and enjoy more flexibility in their lives. Eliminating time on the bus or in the car, plus being home to take care of things like meal prep, errands, and other tasks throughout the day can help employees make the most of their time while still being productive. Typically, remote workers are better able to juggle their personal responsibilities with their jobs, which leads to enhanced well-being and satisfaction.
Companies can also benefit from providing remote work with flexible hours. Turnover is a huge organizational expense and can affect morale in the office. By providing flexible work options, organizations can improve employee retention and nurture a happier workforce.
PRO: Remote Can Help Develop & Nurture Trust Amongst Team Members
While it might seem counterintuitive, remote work can actually improve trust among coworkers. Why? Because communication becomes more important than ever, forcing team members to work together more efficiently and effectively. Teamwork makes organizations stronger and helps people to feel like they’re part of something that’s bigger than themselves.
CON: Can You Maintain Workplace Culture?
As most people have noticed during the pandemic, it’s hard to replicate the connections that occur when people are physically in the same space. Video chat is a great tool, but it’s hard to create true camaraderie and collaboration without at least the occasional in-person meeting.
Company culture is essential for employee retention, productivity, and morale. It can be a big challenge to maintain that culture in an all-remote setting, particularly if you never get together as a team in person or when you bring new employees into the fold.
CON: Employee Isolation Could Lead to Burnout & Stress
Although most people love that they have fewer distractions from colleagues when working at home, many also miss the social aspect of working in an office. Some people quickly begin to feel isolated when working remotely, which can lead to stress and ultimately, burnout. Even people who don’t think they’ll miss working around others can begin to feel the isolation eventually.
Possible Compromise? Hybrid Work Schedules
Although some people will want to return to the office full-time and others will want to continue working remotely, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Some companies might allow a hybrid model, with employees coming in for team meetings and activities, or working in the office just one or two days a week.
Ultimately, the decision will lie with each individual and their employer. But for those who can do their jobs from home without compromising productivity or efficiency, the question of whether or not to stay remote after COVID-19 is a deeply personal one.
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