Remote work benefits, challenges, and outcomes should be considered by any company thinking about leaving an office for good. It has been a blessing for us, overall.
Our company had been located in office setting since we were founded in 1999. But twenty years of the most common type of work setting came to a halt in 2019. We had decided to go remote to be more environmentally friendly, to allow team members to work from their locations of choice, and to be able to expand our reach to employees outside of our town of origin, Lexington, Kentucky.
It was a fortuitous decision, because the COVID-19 pandemic occurred within six months of our switch. So we were already in a great position to deal with what many other companies were forced to do—close their doors and work remotely. Most of them seemed to have done ok with having online meetings, screen sharing, calls in place of workplace gatherings, and so on. It was normal for us.
Remote Work Benefits
Satisfied Team Members: Overall our team members report satisfaction at being able to work from home. We’re in the tech industry, of course, so we weren’t surprised with their responses. This field seems ripe for developers and engineers who aren’t necessarily suited for office life.
Greater Employment Reach: It has given us the ability to hire talented folks from all over the country, which has been wonderful. Being able to hire outside of a 20-mile radius around our city has been a very welcome change.
Flexibility: The most obvious benefit has to be flexibility related to start time, end time, apparel, workspace, and more. This is the most beneficial individual aspect of remote work.
Balance: The ability to have more personal time has generally lead to more family/home balance. Team members can have children in the house, walk dogs during breaks, cook lunches rather than eating out, and have more personal time since they aren’t driving to and from an office.
Cost Savings: Remote work offers cost savings for both our company and our team. Commuting costs have disappeared for all of us, and there are no longer costs associated with having an office space.
Remote Work Challenges
Team Availability: There have been moments when team members seem to go missing. By that I mean they aren’t immediately available to respond to a call or email or aren’t active on Slack, which is what we use for team communication. We have made it clear that’s not acceptable, but it does happen from time to time. It’s not a deal killer in that we might return to an office, but it’s something all remote teams probably have to address.
Connectedness: We’ve had the occasional mention of not feeling as connected to each other, and that’s a real concern that no company, including ours, should dismiss. So, to ensure we stay connected in spite of our distances from each other, we are considering an annual gathering so everyone can meet face-to-face.
Collaboration: Those small moments in informal meetings or while standing by the water-cooler have ended. So the collaboration that comes with them has also declined. Our workaround is to ensure all team members have at least one phone discussion with another team member or group each day.
There are four primary outcomes that we’ve experienced in our years of remote work.
Happier Team: Overall remote work has been wonderful, and our team members have enjoyed doing work in the locations of their choice.
Near Zero Emissions: We do not drive at all for work anymore. We do not have an office or building that must be heated or cooled. We almost always meet clients online via screen sharing. There is essentially no part of our business that produces emissions.
Near Zero Paper Use: We don’t have any company printers and no reams of paper. In fact, I don’t have a printer at home either. I avoid paper in almost all cases, though federal, state and local governments still love to send letters related to taxes and laws. Other than that, we’re basically paper-free.
Near Zero Office Waste: We used to have desks and chairs that we’d replace from a style standpoint, throwing the old ones away. We had computers nobody needed, cables of all kinds, mice, mouse pads, monitors, odds and ends that sat on shelves, and all the sorts of things you see in offices… nearly all of which are unnecessary. Those are gone now, and only the essential items remain.
The result is that we don’t say we’re doing good things for the environment, but we’re actually doing good things. For example, I used to drive more than 10,000 miles per year, but now I average about 1,000. Office work was the primary creator of emissions, paper use, and equipment waste, not to mention traffic and wasting time. Overall this has been a positive move for our company, our team members, and our planet. We’re looking forward to another successful year of remote work.
If you have any questions about what we do, feel free to contact us any time.