The Pros and Cons of a Remote Workforce

February 21, 2019 Pete Newsome Pete Newsome

Collaborative digital technologies are continually improving, and opportunities to work from virtually anywhere with an internet connection are growing rapidly. A survey by Upwork and Freelancers Union estimates that nearly 50% of the U.S. workforce will become a remote workforce of freelancers by 2027.

Another survey of 3,755 employees who work remotely by AND CO from Fiverr showcased that:

  • 55% of surveyed current virtual workforce employees say they are already full-time telecommuters.
  • 28% say they alternate between working remotely and working on-site.
  • 15% report working primarily onsite with some remote work opportunities.
  • 2% reported “other.”

Many major corporations offer remote work opportunities to their employees — a situation that has numerous advantages as well as potential concerns for employers.

The Pros and Cons of Remote Working for Employers

The advantages of being a part of a remote workforce as an employee are often well-known: Flexible scheduling, access to employers outside of a commuting distance, greater independence, higher job satisfaction, cost and time savings (gas, wear and tear on vehicles, commute time, etc.), and greater worker productivity. But, what are the advantages of telecommuting for employers? And, what are the disadvantages of telecommuting for employers?

10 Advantages of Employing a Remote Workforce

We’ve identified some of the benefits of using a virtual workforce (either as supplemental to an existing workforce or in lieu of it):

  1. A virtual workforce is more cost-effective than providing physical space, office supplies, or other costs for an onsite team.
  2. Making virtual workforce positions available increases access to a more talented pool of candidates who live outside of commuting distance (or live internationally).
  3. Remote employees can work collaboratively through telework and communications technologies.
  4. Flexible work options lead to increased employee morale and satisfaction.
  5. Offering remote work opportunities leads to reduced employee turnover and attrition (by as much as 25% or 50%).
  6. Employees who work remotely have fewer unnecessary meetings.
  7. Enabling employees to work remotely leads to increased productivity.
  8. Remote workforce employees demonstrate greater independence.
  9. Flexible work schedules reduce unscheduled employee absences.
  10. Employing a virtual workforce that doesn’t have to drive to work contributes to making a company more eco-friendly.

5 Disadvantages of Employing a Remote Workforce

Although having a partial or full-fledged remote workforce has numerous benefits for employers, it also has some potential drawbacks to consider:

  1. Management may worry about accountability because employees are not as “visible” (although their work time can be tracked using telework technology).
  2. Management concerns about reduced collaboration or productivity.
  3. Working remotely isn’t a suitable option for everyone (some employees may work better in a physical workplace environment).
  4. Management apprehension that having a partially remote workforce may lead to jealousy among co-located employees or strain employee relationships.
  5. Potentially expensive updates to IT infrastructure, security, and technology may be required initially to support virtual work opportunities.

An Example of a Successful Virtual Workforce Integration

As a recruiting and staffing agency for small, medium, and large businesses, 4 Corner Resources (4CR), has worked with clients across various industries around the United States. As such, we have been privileged to be a part of many successful remote workforce integrations. Here is one such example:

One client, a public e-learning school that serves K-12 students throughout Florida (and elsewhere) through online content, decided to develop their own Learning Management System (LMS) in 2017. This multi-million dollar project required additional employees to plan, develop and execute company-wide. The skill sets the school sought in employees for the project were part of a small niche — which placed the organization in a position of having a limited candidate pool to select from in the immediate area.

By deciding to embrace a remote workforce, the educational company expanded its candidate pool and gained access to a more extensive network of candidates who did not live within a daily commute distance. The company enjoyed great success finding the talent they needed to have a successful project completion and has since followed a remote working module.

As the national unemployment rate remains among the lowest the U.S. has seen in more than a decade, it means that prospective candidates have more options and control in the recruiting and hiring process. As the preference for working remotely continues to gain traction, learn how your business can take advantage by downloading our complimentary tip sheet by clicking on the link below.

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