The fully remote business – advantages and disadvantages

The fully remote business – advantages and disadvantages

Organizations are recognizing the potential advantages of a fully remote business. Companies including GitLab, Invision, and Toggl have dived in and are already fully remote. A State of the American Workforce report by Gallup (2016) stated 35% of employees would change jobs for the opportunity to work remotely full time.



Advantages of a fully remote business

A fully remote business benefits both the employer and the employee. The business can expect:

  • Lower facility costs.
  • Increased productivity.
  • Lower skill costs.
  • A leaner organization structure.
  • A business that is easier to scale.

A virtual office address is required to show the business is credible. Many virtual offices offer phone answering, mail forwarding, and other services.

With no building to house employees savings are made on purchase or rent costs. There are no heating, lighting or air conditioning maintenance, or building insurance costs.

With no regular office, social interactions are reduced. There is less chat about last night’s game or the latest TV series and more focused work time.

Staff can live in lower-cost areas and be from a countrywide or even worldwide labor pool. This reduces costs and makes a business easier to scale.

A remote position also benefits the employee. They no longer have the costs of the daily commute and that time can be reclaimed for personal or family activities.

With no need to be close to the office the employee can live in cheaper areas. They could live closer to higher-quality schools or open spaces and recreation opportunities.

Employees can work flexibly provided the work gets done. This gives them time to attend appointments or children’s activities. They can work core hours plus early mornings or evenings to complete tasks.

The fully remote business – The disadvantages

No organization structure is perfect and there are downsides. A remote business must develop its own culture and this impacts on their hiring process.

Monitoring employee performance is an issue. This makes it even more important to recruit the right people. Unless new hires have previously worked for remote organizations it can take time to adapt.

For the employee, the main difficulty is defining a break between work and home time. It is too easy to be always on and some employers can exploit this issue. If the employer uses monitoring processes some employees find them intrusive.

The employee also loses out on the social interaction they could expect in a traditional workplace. For some working alone can be difficult. If working at home there are always distractions. Many social interactions at work lead to social activities and friendships outside the workplace. With remote working, these supportive relationships are lost.

Company culture and maintaining that culture over time is the key to success for the remote business. It is important both the employer and the employee benefit from the arrangement. More information on the challenges can be found in Buffer’s state of remote work report.

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