Setting all the jargon and the techno-speak aside, there’s no doubt that recent advances in “cloud computing” and “software as a service” (SAAS) have the potential to change the world. As more work becomes exclusively computer-based, and as more business can be conducted over the Internet, workers have greater opportunities to work remotely.
As the number of people who can work remotely increases, corporation relocation is sure to raise at least one tough question: Should the corporation relocate employees, or should it allow them to stay where they are and work remotely?
Why Relocating Workers Might Make Sense
Relocating employees from one part of the world to another certainly isn’t cheap, but it might be more cost-effective than allowing employees to work remotely. According to a study by VitalSmarts, a corporate training company, employees working remotely are more likely to have problems relating to co-workers than employees who share an office.
While many would dispute this study’s findings, it’s only common sense to question the overall productivity of remote workers. Are they more likely to be distracted sitting in their home office? Will they be as productive if they feel no one is watching their actions? Will they procrastinate and cause projects to fall behind?
To be sure, there are not any definitive answers to these questions because they are specific to an individual. Some employees are cut out for working remotely, and some aren’t. For this reason, it may more cost effective in the long run to relocate a worker than it is to let them work at home and slowly cost the company money due to lost productivity.
Why Letting Employees Work Remotely Might Make Sense
Are you a different person at work than you are at home? Would you consider this a good thing? Most of us change our style and personality when we are around others. In a tense office environment, these changes in our style and personality can be counter-productive. For some workers, it’s much easier to relax and focus at home than it is at work.
There’s also the fact that employees who work from home don’t need their employer to provide office space, a desk and comfortable chair, air conditioning, a break room, clean and stocked restrooms, janitorial service, security, etc., the costs of which can add up quickly. Employees who work from home take care of all of these things themselves.
Finally, there are quality of life and societal benefits that come with working remotely. If workers aren’t commuting to and from an office, they have a little more personal time. Also, if workers aren’t commuting, they’re not burning fossil fuels, congesting roadways, etc.
The Number of Remote Workers Is Likely To Grow
New technologies – such as conferencing tools that help make long-distance employee communications more natural and software that can monitor employee productivity – have helped alleviate the concerns that many employers have about remote workers. Over time, it’s also likely that the cost of commuting (both to society and to the employee) will also place pressure on employeers to encourge remote workers. The question is, will you be one of these remote workers?
Author Jason Lancaster is a small business owner working with TRC Global Solutions, a company that provides global relocation services to companies of all sizes.