You’re, no doubt, aware that there’s a revolution going on in the world. It isn’t the focus on the environment or the rightist agenda that we’re talking about, though. We’re referring to the remote revolution. More and more businesses are adopting the remote office setup. It is the advantages of working remotely that are fuelling this revolution but everything is not hunky-dory either or the revolution would have been more widespread.
There are disadvantages to working remotely too. These disadvantages got attention when a poster child of the remote revolution – IBM – backtracked on its preferences. After setting up a system that resulted in 40 percent of its employees telecommuting, IBM suddenly asked them to report to respective local branches or put in their resignations. The reasons for such a turnaround were obviously the disadvantages of working remotely. What are these disadvantages? Our list follows.
Working Remotely Disadvantages #1: Absent Company Culture
Establishing a cohesive company culture is the biggest disadvantage of the remote working setup. The obvious reason for this is that you don’t get employees under one roof often. If you have a global workforce, then the chances of this happening are even lower. It can be very difficult to convey a company culture to people individually.
The other reason why company culture is usually absent when employees are working remotely is that employees come from different backgrounds. Their values are disparate and their thinking unique. While this diversity allows for a lot of creativity and innovation, it can make creating a company culture very difficult.
Working Remotely Disadvantages #2: Reduced Communication
When someone says the word “communication”, most people tend to think about talking or writing. Rarely will an individual think of the subtle things like body language and facial expressions. And yet, according to communication theories, body language and facial expressions play an equal role in good communication, if not more.
Unfortunately, when employees are working remotely, body language and facial expressions lose their significance. For example, if you walk into a room, you immediately sense the mood there. This isn’t possible when the stakeholders aren’t even in the same room. Therefore, in a way, you can say that communication is reduced in remote setups.
Working Remotely Disadvantages #3: Less Control
No company should allow its employees to work remotely if control is one of their priorities. One of the foundations of the remote offices is the fact that employees get to control their own schedules. It is because of this independence that remote setups result in increased productivity and employee retention.
The flip-side of giving your employees such independence means that you’re giving up control. There is no micromanagement and in the majority of times, you’ll have to rely on the pride and self-worth of your employees rather than the traditional managerial supervision.
Working Remotely Disadvantages #4: Heavy Need for Discipline
In order to be productive while working remotely, employees need to have a strong sense of will and exercise it with stout discipline. Because your employees will be working without supervision, it will be difficult for them to ignore distractions. Furthermore, remotely working employees tend to be at locations that are full of distractions.
Effectively, the extra distractions combined with the lack of supervision can hinder work and productivity. The only way to work around this twin challenge is motivation and commitment that every employee doesn’t have. It is because of this that all employees are not suited for the remote setup.
This is a definite disadvantage because it changes the hiring criteria of businesses operating in the remote environment. If your business has a remote setup or you’re planning to introduce one, then you’ll have to hire workers on the basis of their self-discipline and motivation.
Working Remotely Disadvantages #5: Dependence on Technology
For every disadvantage of working remotely that we’ve listed above, there is only one solution – technology. It is the latest developments in technology that has made it possible for remote offices to exist in the first place. There are a wide variety of web services and software suites that enable remote offices in the modern world.
Most of these services and apps are designed with individual challenges of remote offices in mind. If you take the challenges of establishing a company culture and ensuring clear communication, you get options like Slack, Google Hangouts, Hive, Jostle, Fuze, Fleep and many others.
If you consider the problem of less control for the administration, you can resolve it with project management solutions such as Asana, Trello, Wrike, Clarizen, JIRA, Taskworld etc.
Similarly, when it comes to disciplining oneself and ensuring motivation, time management apps such as Time Doctor, Timely, Wunderlist, Workflow, Clear, and Rescue Time can come in really handy.
Working Remotely Disadvantages #6: Security Challenges
While technology can solve most problems associated with working remotely, it can also become a problem. Depending on third-party apps and services can throw up security challenges that may put some firms off the idea of allowing their employees the chance to work from home.
Working through services and apps provided by others on the internet means that your data is available to them. This could be a deal breaker for businesses that manage sensitive information. However, the thing with technology is that if it becomes a problem, it also provides the solutions.
The security challenges of working remotely can be sidestepped with either the right licences or developing your own software suites. If you develop your own apps, then you won’t have to worry about sensitive data being accessed by unknown parties. Similarly, getting the right licences will also be protective because it will ensure the authenticity of the service provider you’ll be engaging with.
Working remotely is not a panacea even though it has the kind of game-changing benefits we’ve listed in one of our previous posts. Like everything else, it has its flaws too. As it is, the flaws are very much manageable while the benefits cannot be neglected. Going remote will yield benefits so long as the negatives are managed and nullified with the right solutions.