Maria Cherkas | Project Manager at Coherent Solutions
- Access to a Broader Talent Pool
Among the most visible and tempting benefits of remote work, I would mention the ease of access to talent worldwide. When it comes to rare or urgent positions, the staffing process has become faster and more efficient, especially without geographic restrictions.
- Cost Savings
Remote work has also brought in considerable cost savings. The demand for office spaces has decreased, and the same can be said for office overhead and benefit budgets. Additional cost savings come from the difference in rates between in-house and offshore talent pools.
- Increased Flexibility
With remote work, some teams can afford flexible working hours, which lets employees achieve better results during their personal peak productivity hours. This flexibility often results in better responsiveness to business needs, thus enabling teams to build more successful and cost-efficient software products.
- Healthier Teams
There are certain grounds to believe that allowing people to stay at home during peak pandemic times lowered the risks for employees, not only for catching COVID-19 but also for avoiding the usual seasonal viruses due to social distancing and limited presence in offices and public transport.
In general, employees tend to take fewer sick leaves since mild colds and other minor health issues can be easily managed at home without significantly affecting personal efficiency.
- Employee Retention
Better conditions for achieving a work-life balance that includes remote work have contributed greatly to overall job satisfaction. The increased performance that many employees can now demonstrate is a sure path to better compensation and customized benefits programs. All these trends lead to higher job satisfaction among employees and, consequently, lower staff turnover, which also has a positive impact on hiring costs.
There would probably be no discussions around remote work if this new pattern had no drawbacks. Unfortunately, the flexibility of remote work comes with a significant list of risks and shortcomings. Let’s take a closer look at them too.
- Communication and Collaboration Issues
Although the overall view of remote work was positive back in 2020, many teams suddenly faced the urgent need to modify the way they had been working for years and implement entirely new tools and techniques into their daily routine at very short notice. The disruptive phase of this process might be over, but still, we must work our way around the ongoing dependency on remote communication tools and the communication gaps they often create. The physical distance between team members, as well as time zone differences, continues to leave room for misunderstanding, meeting fatigue, and delays.
- Management Difficulties
Lack of face-to-face communication often creates a feeling as if there were less predictability and transparency regarding the project’s progress, employees’ actual feelings, and possible issues. These fears often have a basis, as managers may have an incomplete picture and must rely on metrics and statistics rather than interpersonal communication and the additional non-verbal information it offers.
Distributed teams and time zone differences may also cause delays in addressing urgent issues, which unfortunately has a negative impact on businesses.
When it comes to building remote teams from scratch or onboarding new remote team members, managers report that it has become harder to build rapport with newcomers and create or share team culture without ever meeting new team members in person.
- Motivation challenges
Even if, at a personal level, employees often benefit from remote work, many have noticed that team culture deteriorates, and whole teams grow distant and eventually fall apart. It has become harder to feel connected and maintain the same level of involvement without regular team-building events or frequent face-to-face communication. Those whose motivation used to depend on the feeling of belonging or who need live interaction and feedback are the first to suffer.
On top of that, in work-from-home mode, it has become a real challenge to address employees’ concerns proactively and to tailor benefits and motivation packages to the needs of a particular employee.
- Cybersecurity risks
While in the pre-COVID era, most companies had robust cyber security measures in place, a massive shift towards remote work has become a major challenge for InfoSec teams worldwide. The biggest risks came from the usage of personal equipment for work purposes, insecure Wi-Fi networks at home offices, vulnerable VPN and data storage solutions, as well as flaws and vulnerabilities in the most popular communication and team collaboration tools. It has become a serious challenge to set up new work-from-home security procedures on a tight schedule and ensure all employees comply with them.
In cases where the use of personal equipment for remote work purposes was not allowed or possible, software development companies had to allocate extra budgets to provide work-from-home equipment at short notice.
- Burnout risks
Although remote work seemed tempting to many employees at first, it came with lots of attached risks as the work tends to bleed into one’s personal life, and it is much harder to set proper boundaries between the two when your living room or kitchen is now also your office. It turned out that employees need training and support to identify what works best for them and to establish a proper work-life balance. Without this support or particular experience, the chances of facing burnout increase dramatically.
Working from home can limit the ability to see future milestones and feel engaged. As a result, it is one more step toward burnout. Feeling disconnected from the team is what many remote workers report, and this does not help mental health either.
Remote work best practices at Coherent Solutions
All the above aspects leave room for experiments. It can be an exciting process for managers and their teams to maximize the advantages of remote work while managing the risks and liabilities it involves.
Here are several examples of what we do at Coherent Solutions to minimize the negative impact of remote work:
Maintain strong company culture by investing in office spaces and a wide range of team-building events that provide an attractive alternative to home offices on a permanent or ad hoc basis. Even if employees prefer to work from home most of the time, events such as movie nights, wine tastings, yoga classes, celebrations of company milestones, etc., bring everyone together and help build the bonds we all used to rely on.
Invest in technology to provide access to convenient, efficient, and secure communication and collaboration tools.
Encourage clear communication guidelines and schedules to minimize delays and communication gaps.
Provide training and career growth opportunities to help remote workers step forward in their careers.
Promote frequent check-ins to foster employee engagement, connection to the teams and the organization, and a safe place for feedback and growth.