First published: June 3rd, 2020
Last updated: April 27th, 2022
In the modern business world, working remotely has become a popular choice for many people and companies alike. As an employer, it's vital that you fully understand what's involved with this type of hybrid working.
There are both benefits and negatives that come with working remotely - for both you and your staff. Not understanding and managing these situations correctly can lead to unhappy employees, decreased productivity, and even unsafe working conditions.
In this guide we'll discuss what working remotely is, the benefits it can bring, and how to manage it safely.
What is working remotely?
Working remotely is when an employee performs their role away from the workplace. This could be in their home, a shared workspace, or even coffee shops.
Remote work allows staff to do a full-time job from anywhere in the world. More companies today are taking up this practice and removing the need for traditional offices. For employers, it's important to be aware of the different types of remote work available.
Different types of remote working
Many employers aren't aware of the different types of remote working available, so it's important you become familiar with them. Below are common examples:
- Flexible working: This employment is when an employee’s hours change throughout the week.
- Fully-remote jobs: This employment is when someone works from a remote location throughout the whole of their working week.
- Hybrid working: This employment is when employees go into the office a few times a week; and then work remotely the other remaining days
Now you're aware of the different types of remote working available, it's important to understand the benefits that come with it. This helps employers make an informed decision as to whether it would work for their business.
What are the benefits of remote working?
There are many benefits that come from remote work opportunities. The practice can be beneficial for both businesses and their employees.
Let's explore the benefits that come from remote employment:
Better work-life balance
When employees work remotely, they can cut down on their commuting time. Whether they're working from home or travelling to a nearby space, remote workers can enjoy a better work-life balance.
Whilst working remotely might not be possible all the time, employees can enjoy skipping busy commutes a few times per week. This allows them to spend more time with family, enjoy their hobbies, or even recharge better after a busy workday.
If an employee doesn't feel like their work-life balance is great with their current employer, they may look for a new job.
Working from home can also be a solution if you have an employee who requires some time off. For example, for a medical appointment. You can simply move their working hours for that particular day, meaning the issue is resolved.
Reduced staff turnover
Remote work is very popular among job seekers. Many candidates only look for remote working roles, so presenting yourself as an employer that offers it can set you apart from competitors.
Working remotely has also been linked to better levels of employee engagement. Meaning, remote workers are not only more productive but they're usually happier in their current roles. So, they're more likely to stay with the company for a longer period.
One of the major benefits of remote working is that it saves your money. Meaning, you have more than enough time to focus on growing your business.
Having remote workers means you have no need for traditional offices. This can save employers a lot of money on renting a space or paying utility bills (like electric, heating and water).
Employees can even save money on commuting whilst working from home (part or full-time). This is especially beneficial for staff who rely on public transport to get to work every day. For some people, money saved from commute costs can go a long way.
Bigger talent pool
Having remote work in your business can increase your access to a bigger talent pool. If you offer a fully-remote job, you may have applicants with better skills based around the world.
More fully-remote workers may start applying - without fears of being held back based on their location. Employers have access to candidates with the most efficient skills and cultural fit for their business.
Similarly, offering a flexible working option can also help to increase your talent pool. There are many professionals out there who are seeking flexible working. And many of them may have a high level of skills suitable for your company.
Lower employee lateness
Another benefit that comes from remote working is lower employee lateness. With the click of a button, employees are ready to work. Gone are the days of dealing with lateness due to cancelled trains or extreme weather conditions.
By making remote working an option for your company, you should see a decrease in employee lateness. This makes lateness issues a thing of the past.
What are the downsides of working remotely?
Despite the benefits that remote working offers, there are some negatives you need to be aware of. Becoming familiar with them will help you to manage these situations correctly in your company.
So, let's discuss them in more detail:
More difficult to manage staff
Remote working can make it more difficult for employers to manage their employees. Some remote employees may never see their employer in-person, at all. During flexible working, they may get to contact them once or twice per week.
This can make it harder to help employees with tasks, as well as other basic management that's required. It also makes it more difficult to resolve small issues quickly, as you might do in an office setting. A phone call or chat over ‘Teams’ can be seen to be more serious than a quick conversation in person.
Issues with monitoring productivity
Employers may struggle to manage employees who are working remotely. This could be because answering emails or completing tasks may take more time than expected. Despite that, it's important to find a way to monitor the productivity of remote employees.
Poor time management and employee productivity can hinder their career progression. Increased communication will help them to open up if they're struggling with their workload.
You should never underestimate the importance of productivity levels on the success of your business. The lower they are, the lower the output. However, setting high levels of productivity can lead to a decrease in morale and satisfaction.
Feelings of isolation and loneliness
One of the main negatives that come with remote working is the effect it can have on a person’s well-being. If you have many employees who work remotely, you may see an increase in them feeling isolated and lonely.
This is especially the case if they don't have much contact with their colleagues, or anyone throughout their whole day. As an employer, employee well-being should be one of your main priorities. So, keep regular contact with all staff who work from a remote location.
Do employees have the right to request to work remotely?
Under Irish employment law, the Work-Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2023 was signed into law in April 2023.
Under the act, all employees have a legal right to request remote working from their employers. However, the following conditions must be met:
- They have six or more months of continuous service.
- The request is made at least eight weeks before the date they intend to start the new working arrangement.
If employers choose to accept their request, they must meet the following requirements:
- Respond in writing with your decision within four weeks. (However, this can be extended to eight weeks if you need any more time to make a decision.
- Thoroughly consider the needs of your business when making a decision on the request for remote work.
- Give the employee your reasons behind your decision.
As an employer, you have the right to end the remote working arrangement. This can be done if you believe that it's having a substantial negative effect on your business.
How to manage employees working remotely
If you're looking to bring remote working into your company, it's important you know how to manage it correctly.
Not doing so can mean happiness can decrease. So let's discuss ways to manage remote work in your business:
Communicate with your employees
As mentioned earlier, employee well-being is affected the most. So, it's important you communicate with each remote worker on a regular basis.
This should be more than just a simple hello, but more of an in-depth conversation. You should cover things such as their workload, career goals, and any further support they need. Employees working remotely should never feel like they've been forgotten by you or the business.
Arrange social events
It's important you do everything you can to keep your staff connected with their colleagues. One way to do this is to arrange social events outside of work.
Organising social events between co-workers can help remote workers build relationships with other staff. Try to arrange events once a month, in a location accessible to most employees. This can have a positive effect on morale, which may lead to an increase in productivity.
Respect their right to disconnect from work
When employees work remotely, it's important to note that the working time rules on daily rest periods apply. Remote workers may find themselves staying online for longer periods and if not carefully managed, you may suffer a claim from a burnt-out employee.
You should have a clear policy in place specifying that employees are entitled to disconnect from their devices for specified hours every day. This means they shouldn’t be contacted outside of their normal working hours. The Code of Practice on the Right to Disconnect was introduced in April 2021 and it applies to all employees - including anyone working from home.
When does remote working work best?
Before businesses begin implementing remote working, they need to consider if it's the right fit for their team. Without it, they can struggle to stay connected to staff both in and out of the workplace.
Remote employees perform best when they have two things:
- Correct technology: Businesses need a large amount of technology to support remote work. This includes laptops, computer screens, and strong wifi connection.
- Correct workspace: Ensure your employees have the best workspace possible to work in. This includes correct lighting, seats, and temperature.
You should do all you can to make sure your employees have the best work setup and equipment in order to perform in their role.
Get expert advice on remote working from Peninsula
If you have employees who work remotely in your business, it’s important you manage the situation correctly.
There are both benefits and negatives that come with it, both for you and your staff. Not understanding and managing the situation correctly can lead to unhappy employees, and a decrease in overall productivity.
Peninsula offers 24/7 advice which is available 365 days a year. Want to find out more? Call us on 0818 923 923.