Founder/CEO of Rankings.io, an SEO agency that helps elite personal injury law firms dominate first page rankings.
We’re heading further into Q4 2021, and many companies have already decided whether they’ll remain remote, return to in-person work or take on some form of a hybrid model moving forward. Some companies, however, might not yet have decided how their employees should “show up” for work in the future.
As a business owner who has run a remote company for almost a decade, I’ve made several observations on the pros and cons of remote work over the years. If you’re a business owner still weighing what’s next for the future of your company’s working model, here are some pros and cons of remote work you should consider. Note: in this article, I’m focusing on the binary of remote versus in-person work, not on hybrid models.
Pro Of Remote Work: Access To Remote Talent
One of the most significant benefits remote work has given me as a business owner is access to talent from around the country.
A wider candidate pool enables you to find people with skills and knowledge that might not be common in your area. Access to remote talent can also help you keep your costs more stable. For example, hiring a marketing manager based out of Houston will likely cost you less than hiring a marketing manager based out of New York City, due in large part to the major difference in the cost of living between the two cities.
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Con Of Remote Work: Navigating Different Legal Requirements
The flip side of the ability to hire employees from different areas? Having to make sure your business is in compliance with different legal requirements.
Minimum wage rates and payroll requirements are just two things that can differ by state. Consider this: according to the U.S. Department of Labor, the frequency of payday in California and Michigan “depends on the occupation” of the employee, whereas the frequency of payday in Arizona must be “two or more days in a month, not more than 16 days apart.”
Pro Of Remote Work: Lower Operational Costs
A major benefit of remote work is that it helps you lower your operational costs. Without a physical office, you don’t have to pay thousands of dollars in rent per year, buy and maintain office technology and furniture, pay for Wi-Fi and more.
Instead, you can take those savings and use them in other ways to scale your business and make life better for your team, like by hiring more help and giving more employee bonuses.
Con Of Remote Work: Inconsistent Work Environments
However, without a physical office, your employees won’t have consistent work environments. When you operate from a physical office, you can set everyone up with similar technology and furniture. You’ll know your employees are using your secure Wi-Fi network, surrounded by other company personnel.
Operating remotely, you can give your employees technology stipends or ship them equipment, but there’s no guarantee they won’t just use their personal laptops. Additionally, your employees can work from different types of locations. This is great for employees but can make work more challenging — for example, the employee might not hear important information in a Zoom call due to loud background music at a coffee shop.
Pro Of Remote Work: Easier Business Growth
When you run a company from a physical office, each time you prepare to hire a new employee, you have to figure out where in the office they’ll sit.
You’ll eventually hit a point where the growth of your business will be confined to the space you have left in the building. If you can’t squeeze in new employees, you might have to pause hiring while you look into a new office or see if your current office can be remodeled. However, with remote work, there are no physical barriers to your company’s growth.
Con Of Remote Work: Harder To Bond And Communicate
Not having physical barriers to your company’s growth enables you to hire more people but makes it harder for employees to bond and communicate with each other.
For one, interactions aren’t as spontaneous with remote work. There aren’t water cooler chats or spur-of-the-moment lunch gatherings. Day-to-day communication takes a hit, too. It can be tricky to comprehend communication over mediums like Zoom and Slack. After all, tone can be notoriously tough to decipher online.
Pro Of Remote Work: Less Likelihood Of Turbulent Drama
While communication and bonding are tougher in remote work settings, there’s a silver lining. When your business is remote, there’s less likelihood of turbulent office drama.
You don’t have to organize events like office birthday parties and happy hours, which can be ripe grounds for drama, or worse, employees getting harmed. Even day-to-day operations at an office can cause drama. For example, employees in one department might get upset if they see employees in a different department typically walking out of the office an hour earlier.
That’s not to say that drama and gossip won’t happen with remote work. But, in many ways, remote work makes it harder for that drama and gossip to take place.
Remote Versus In-Person Work: Other Considerations
As you can see, many of the arguments surrounding remote versus in-person work have pros and cons. The pros and cons I’ve explored are by no means exhaustive. Other factors to consider include:
• Work-Life Balance: In some ways, remote work encourages better work-life balance, like empowering employees to feel more comfortable taking breaks. In other ways, remote work fogs the boundaries of work and life.
• Interruptions And Distractions: Interruptions and distractions are inevitable regardless of the work setting; it’s just a matter of the kind of interruptions and distractions. At home, employees might get interrupted by a pet or distracted by the sound of their neighbor mowing the lawn. At the office, they might get interrupted by a coworker or distracted by their desk buddy’s loud music.
• Mental Health: Remote work can improve mental health in many ways, such as by giving employees more flexibility. However, remote work can also harm mental health in some ways, such as by making employees feel isolated.
For me, the pros of running a remote company outweigh the cons. However, ultimately, it’s up to you to consider the pros and cons of remote work from the lens of your company’s unique circumstances and make the best decision for you and your team.