Is Your Business Better Off With On-site or Off-site employees?

There was a time when working from home was an impossible dream, but thanks to new technologies and changing attitudes, that dream is looking more and more like a reality…or like a nightmare. It all depends on who’s doing the looking. There are good arguments for both the workplace and work-at-home models. Let’s take a look at both sides of the debate…

For some companies, it makes sense to have their employees work remotely, or to explore the benefits out-of-office freelancers. (Check out our article on the gig economy here.) For other companies, you want (and sometimes need) to have your employees within earshot. There are good arguments for both the workplace and work-at-home models. Let’s take a look at both sides of the debate…

Point: “Working at the office promotes unity.”

It’s all about collaboration, people. In an office, your coworkers are right there to bounce ideas off of and work out problems together. Managers are there as well to guide and advise as new projects arise. Got a question? An in-office employee can just knock on a door instead of sending an email from home and potentially waiting half a day for a response. Working together in one setting means exposure to experienced co-workers, which translates to increased personal development. Oh, and when a client (or prospect) comes in, it sure is nice to see people instead of empty workstations. Not to mention, in-office workers feel more like they’re part of a team, which leads to more loyalty towards the company.

Counterpoint: “Working at the office can be a distraction.”

Listen, working in an office is great for finding out what Netflix show to queue up next or to argue over whether a hot dog is a sandwich…which it totally isn’t, no matter what Justin Trudeau says. According to a recent survey, on-site employers in the US lose $1.8 trillion a year in productivity, whether it’s because of water cooler chatter, unnecessary meetings, cigarette breaks, and more. And if your job demands concentration and quiet, good luck finding it in an office. And even if you don’t mind the noise, then what about your physical wellbeing, and what sitting around eight hours a day does to the body? Or what long commutes to the office does to the environment?

Point: “Working remotely can cause communication issues, increase cybercrime and decrease productivity.”

You want to talk about health and ecological risks, how about security risks? How confident are you in the coffee shop Wi-Fi your employee uses while remotely interfacing with your network? A 2018 Apricorn survey shows that one-third of organizations experienced a data loss or breach as a direct result of mobile working. That’s reason enough for concern, but what about reliability? How do you know your employees that work from home are actually putting in the full-time hours? Or that they’ll be immediately available when the invariable work emergency pops up? Or that they’re not just using you as a stepping-stone for their next job?

Counterpoint: “Working remotely boosts morale and saves companies money.”

Okay, let’s talk about security for a minute. It’s a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) world—ALL employees work off-site at some point and companies must take measures to protect their data, whether with virtual private network (VPN) or security software. So with that concern in the rearview mirror…lets’ look at some key benefits: a company that offers remote employment helps recruit young workers who prefer the flexibility and autonomy of working away from an office, and helps retain senior-level employees who may want to slow down but aren’t ready to fully retire yet. Lastly, a remote staff, and working within the gig economy, reduces operating costs. For example, Aetna’s recent telecommuting policies helped it shed 2.7 million square feet of office space, saving the company $78 million.

In Conclusion

Like most debates, the right option is in the eye of the beholder. It’s all a matter of your company’s personal needs and the industry you’re in. That said, advances in new communication technologies in recent years, from video conferencing to Hosted Voice, has made the work-from-home option much more achievable and affordable than ever before.

If you’re looking to have more employees working remotely or simply want to know more about our communications options, we’d love to talk! Contact us today to learn about how we can help you operate efficiently and securely with our host of smart choices in products, solutions and contract options.