Remote work policies are extremely popular in the modern workforce—yet many large companies are split on whether or not to embrace them. Major companies like Best Buy, Yahoo and IBM have recently moved away from the trend of letting employees work remotely, and have recalled employees into the office.
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Meanwhile, companies like Cisco and Amazon maintain strong remote workforces. Remote work comes with a host of benefits for both employees and companies, but there are strong arguments for keeping a more centralized work base as well. With more and more major companies ending their flexible work programs, is the remote working trend over?
Telecommuting and remote work are still gaining in popularity. Gallup has noted a 4% increase in the amount of telecommuting workers in the past four years—and these employees are spending more days out of the office than in previous years.
This trend can be attributed to the benefits that come with remote working policies.
Companies gain the opportunity to save in areas like real estate and equipment costs while gaining access to an expanded talent pool less restricted by geography. These policies also allow companies to be more competitive in acquiring talent—millennials consider flexibility to be a highly important factor when choosing where to work. The ability to create savings while attracting top talent makes remote work policies an enticing proposal for many companies.
Google, IBM and Yahoo all have restrictive remote work policies that aim to create strong collaboration and innovation in their teams. Having teams work on-site can improve opportunities for creative collaboration and spontaneous run-ins. These companies also maintain a global presence and strong reputations, allowing them to attract talent without the need for remote work privileges.
IBM noted the need to remain competitive with companies like Microsoft when deciding to reel in it’s employees.
Teams that have appropriate strategies in place can fully reap the benefits of remote work. Companies like Automattic and Github have refined their business operations to accommodate their globally distributed teams. But without the proper tools and processes in place, remote teams can suffer from miscommunication, disorganized project management and a lack of team cohesiveness. Keeping workers in-house makes it easier for teams to communicate and collaborate, and helps employees understand how they fit into a shared larger picture.
Engagement levels between remote workers and office workers are dependent on a number of factors. Remote employees that work from home 60% to 80% of the time have reported the highest engagement levels and longer hours worked on average. Employees that work all hours remotely or all hours in the office reported similar levels of engagement. The trend shows the success of having a middle ground for remote policies, as employees that come into work some of the time tend to be the most effective and most engaged with the larger team.
Remote working is a steady trend that does not show signs of reversing. Companies must look into their specific circumstances to decide whether remote teams will work for them. Workplaces with proper processes in place to keep team members well-connected will stand to gain the most benefits from remote employees.
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