The Pros and Cons of a Remote Workforce

Business woman female team leader manager executive having remote workforce group meeting, remote workers discussing work plans by video digital conference call on laptop. Over shoulder view

The technology available to help us work and collaborate digitally is always improving. Thanks to an array of virtual tools, employees can work from pretty much anywhere with an internet connection with very little difficulty. The pandemic hammered home how seamless it can be for some workers to switch to working offsite, and employees’ response has been overwhelmingly positive thanks to the increased flexibility remote work offers.

Even before the pandemic struck, though, remote work was well on its way to becoming the norm rather than the exception. A pre-pandemic survey by Upwork and Freelancers Union estimated that nearly 50% of the U.S. workforce would consist of remote freelancers by 2027, and we’re on our way to hitting that benchmark; currently, around 39% of the American workforce performs some time of freelance work, while around a quarter of U.S. adults work remotely at least some of the time. 

Another survey by the Pew Research Center found that employees are embracing the remote work trend. It reported that 64% of teleworkers say location flexibility has made it easier to balance work-life and professional life. In comparison, 44% say completing their work and meeting deadlines is easier.

With so many potential upsides, switching to a remote workforce is a valid consideration that could save your business money, improve productivity, and boost employee satisfaction. But is it the right move for your business? Let’s take a closer look.

Is a Permanent Switch to Remote Work Right For Your Business?

A growing number of major corporations, including Facebook, Twitter, and Slack, have started offering the option to work remotely, and more SMBs are considering it, too. It’s a situation that can have numerous advantages and potential concerns for employers. 

We’re breaking down some of the biggest pros and cons to consider. 

The advantages of being a part of a remote workforce as an employee are pretty obvious: 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 the potential for greater productivity. 

But what are the advantages of telecommuting for employers? Here are 10 of the biggest ones.

Related: The Great Debate on In-Person vs. Remote Employees

10 Advantages of Employing a Remote Working for Employers

1. Cost savings

A virtual workforce is more cost-effective than providing physical space and office supplies and covering other costs for an onsite team. According to Global Workplace Analytics³, which studies trends and forecasts surrounding work in America, a typical employer can save an average of $11,000 per employee per year by going remote for just 50% of workdays. The average employee would save between $2,000 and $7,000. 

2. Bigger talent pool

Making virtual positions available increases your access to a more talented pool of candidates who live outside of commuting distance (or even internationally, for that matter). This can be a great advantage if you’re looking to compete at the global level or if you need to fill niche positions. 

3. Ability to collaborate

Collaboration among team members undoubtedly breeds greater creativity, inclusion, and innovation. However, collaboration can still be accomplished virtually, thanks to the plethora of widely available video and audio conferencing services. Teleconferencing may even expand your ability to collaborate, like with team members from other locations across the country who wouldn’t normally be included in in-person meetings. 

4. Higher morale

If you want happier employees, let them work from home. When asked to rate their happiness level on a scale of 1 to 10, 42% of remote workers rated themselves at 8 or above. That contrasts sharply with just 21% of in-office workers who answered similarly. 

5. Lower turnover

Offering remote work opportunities leads to reduced employee turnover and attrition. Improving your stats in this area can also contribute to significant cost savings for your organization. 

6. Fewer meetings

Employees who work remotely have fewer unnecessary meetings. According to Doodle’s State of Meetings report, poorly organized meetings cost U.S. companies nearly $400 billion annually in lost time and productivity.

7. Increased productivity

Believe it or not, many companies find that employees get more done working from home. A whopping 91% of employees who work a hybrid model say they feel as productive or more productive than they did when they worked full-time in the office. With 79% saying their teams are more effective when working remotely or hybrid, managers tend to agree. 

8. More independent workers

Since remote workers don’t have a manager constantly looking over their shoulder, they’re forced to be more independent in their work. This can be a plus since micromanaging tends to hurt morale. 

9. Reduced absenteeism

Unscheduled absences are a significant expense for employers, costing companies about $1,800 per employee, per year. For the whole country, that adds up to about $300 billion. The Global Workforce Analytics study we mentioned earlier found that telecommuting programs reduce unscheduled absences by 63%.

10. Environmental benefits

Employing a virtual workforce that doesn’t have to drive to work contributes to making a company more eco-friendly. In fact, it’s one of the most effective things a company can do to reduce its carbon footprint. If workers in America with a remote-work compatible job worked from home just half the time, the reduction in emissions would be the equivalent of taking New York State’s entire workforce off the road.

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. Loss of oversight

In a move to remote work, management may worry about a lack of accountability because employees are not as “visible” (although technology offers plenty of ways to track worker activity).

2. Lack of human element

There’s definitely something to be said about the energy of being in a room full of like-minded people working toward a common goal, and that’s an element you can’t quite replicate over a video call. Management may have concerns about reduced collaboration or creativity due to staff not being able to meet face-to-face regularly. 

3. Not suitable for all employees

Some employees simply work better in a physical workplace. To manage the switch to remote work successfully, you’ll need to invest in giving employees the tools, coaching, and resources they need to succeed when they’re not a few cubicles away from their colleagues or boss. 

4. Perceived unfairness/favoritism

Another factor of remote work we haven’t touched on yet is that not all jobs can be done offsite. If you move to a partially remote workforce, there are risks of jealousy or perceived favoritism among the employees who have to remain onsite out of necessity. 

5. Infrastructure costs

While remote work comes with long-term cost savings, there is an upfront investment. You may need to make potentially expensive updates to your IT infrastructure, security, and technology 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 participate in 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, design, 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 embracing a remote workforce, the educational company expanded its candidate pool. It gained access to a more extensive network of candidates who lived outside a daily commute distance. The company enjoyed great success finding the talent they needed to complete a successful project and has since followed a remote working module.

As the preference for working remotely continues to gain traction among candidates, allowing offsite work some or all of the time for some or all of your employees can be a useful way to differentiate yourself from other employers and better compete for the best talent.

Related: Tips for Building a High-Performing Remote Team

The Future of Remote Work for Employers

In the months ahead, employers will continue to capitalize on remote work thanks to its potential to reduce costs, broaden the talent pool, and, perhaps most significantly, offer top candidates the flexibility they demand. 

Hybrid work arrangements will become more common as employers seek ways to find a practical middle ground that gives employees greater work-life balance while allowing face-to-face collaboration. The most popular hybrid model is three days in the office and two days remote. 

Maintaining alignment with candidate desires will be key for employers who want to stay on the cutting edge. These desires are shifting, and candidates are making major career decisions based on them. 

One noteworthy trend is the need for more clarity between what employers and employees want regarding work location. About two-thirds of workers must be in the office full-time, but only 22% say this is their preferred arrangement (compared to a remote or hybrid model). When such misalignment occurs, employers suffer; one in three workers say they would start looking for a new job if forced to return to the office full-time, while 6% say they’d quit immediately. 

Looking ahead to the future of remote work, technology will also be a critical component in employers; success. Unfortunately, many companies are still lacking in giving workers the tools they need to do their jobs as effectively as possible when working out of the office. It’s also important to utilize technology to facilitate remote hiring and virtual onboarding, creating a more seamless candidate and new hire experience when building a remote workforce. 

Hire Accountable, Independent Remote Employees with 4 Corner Resources

It takes the right type of employee to work from home successfully. It requires diligence, organization, accountability, and a strong work ethic. Let 4 Corner Resources identify these qualities in candidates for your open role by choosing us as your staffing partner. 

We help employers of all sizes fill their remote staffing needs with talented employees with the right mix of technical skills and real-world experience. From full-time to part-time, permanent to temporary, we can help you source, screen, and hire the type of employees that will help your company thrive while working remotely. Start the conversation with our team of staffing experts by scheduling your free consultation now

Pete Newsome

About Pete Newsome

Pete Newsome is the President of 4 Corner Resources, the staffing and recruiting firm he founded in 2005. 4 Corner is a member of the American Staffing Association and TechServe Alliance, and the top-rated staffing company in Central Florida. Recent awards and recognition include being named to Forbes’ Best Recruiting Firms in America, The Seminole 100, and The Golden 100. Pete also founded zengig, to offer comprehensive career advice, tools, and resources for students and professionals. He hosts two podcasts, Hire Calling and Finding Career Zen, and is blazing new trails in recruitment marketing with the latest artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Connect with Pete on LinkedIn