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THREE KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM THIS POST

  • Remote work has presented unique challenges for employers’ work models.
  • A review of documented pros that may make keeping some form of remote work attractive to employers.
  • Potential negative side effects of remote work, such as tax laws, that require careful consideration before determining return-to-office work policies.

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the consensus was that remote work would only be a temporary solution. However, as the weeks turned to months and the seasons changed, remote work became a more permanent fixture. Now, as a sense of normal returns to the country, many offices face a new challenge: How to successfully re-open to in-person work while balancing and retaining the remote model in which many professionals have thrived.

One thing is clear based on numerous surveys and studies – many workers want the option to work remotely at least sometimes, if not permanently. Several companies like Twitter have announced employees can continue working remotely indefinitely, while others such as Microsoft and Citigroup announced hybrid models where employees will split time between home and the office. In fact, Citigroup is using a 60/40 split, with employees on site three days and working remotely for two. However, many organizations still remain split on the idea of permanence regarding remote work models. 

Given all the data and potential risks, determining your organization’s return-to-work model might seem like a complex problem. Here are a list of potential pros and cons to consider as your organization decides what is best for business and employees.

 

THE PROS OF REMOTE VS. IN-PERSON OFFICES

One major benefit many businesses saw during the pandemic was reduced expenses on things like business travel and corporate events. Leveraging telecommuting technology provided many with the ability to complete projects outside traditional office hours. This was especially helpful for organizations that operate across multiple time zones.

This flexibility led to other benefits for employees. A study by Growmotely, found that 76% of entrepreneurs believe remote work will become the new normal, 74% of professionals saying the same. Why? There are two primary reasons.

A better work-life balance is one of the most cited benefits of remote work. As the COVID-19 pandemic illustrated, childcare remains a major issue for America’s working parents. Working remotely allowed many to address this issue by being at home with their children as opposed to undertaking the expense of childcare at a time when it may have been costly and unsafe.

Additionally, reduced commute times to and from work provided many with more time to do things like spend with family, workout and focus on activities to help with mental health and wellbeing. 

Researchers determined productivity often increased during the height of remote work. According to Forbes, teleworkers were found to be 35-40% more productive than in office counterparts with performance rising, as well as “stronger autonomy via location independence,” which resulted in 40% fewer quality defects.

The article goes on to note remote work also decreased absenteeism (by 41%) while increasing retention (54% of employees saying they would change jobs for one offering more flexibility). Additionally, the article says organizations save an average of $11,000 per part-time telecommuter, resulting in 21% higher profitability. As Microsoft Executive Vice President Kurt DelBene recently wrote on the company’s official blog, “What we’re learning and understanding has led us to use this period in time to grow and evolve our hybrid workplace, building additional capabilities to help our employees, customers and businesses continue to thrive.”

 

THE CONS OF REMOTE VS. IN-PERSON OFFICES

Caution should be exerted before attempting to render the traditional office set-up as outdated, or worse, extinct. The cons of working remotely have also been exposed during the last year and a half-plus and are worth examining before creating a return-to-work policy.

Team culture may suffer in remote work setups as Zoom calls and other virtual events cannot completely replace traditional human interaction. The lack of face-to-face interaction can have several negative effects, both on a company’s productivity and the individuals that compose it. Likewise, it may be harder for supervisors and their employees to feel as if they can gauge the true pulse of the company, creating possible trust issues and feeling disconnected from others. 

While productivity many have increased, many employees found themselves working more often with the inability to separate work from their personal lives leading to burnout. Likewise, it may also be hard to collaborate and stay focused with people being in different physical locations. Distractions at home that would not be present in the office, such as the presence of other family members for example, also make things difficult for some employees to remain focused.

Consequently, taxes may present a problem for companies with remote employees. As reported by The New York Times, there are unique state and local tax laws that further complicate issues for employers with employees spread out across the United States.

A survey conducted for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) found that 47% of employers didn’t know each state has its own laws regarding remote work. The same study revealed only 46% knew there are a specific number of days employees could spend working in a different state than their workplace before being at risk for tax liabilities. 

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

Determining how best to bring your team back to the office can be a major challenge for large corporations, let alone small and mid-sized businesses. What may work exceptionally well for one could be disastrous for another, which is why weighing the pros and cons mentioned above is essential in creating any return-to-work plan.

Our knowledgeable team at Erigo Employer Solutions specialize in helping organizations with developing organization policies, while reducing risk. Call us today to learn more about the ways we can help you with return-to-work plans or a variety of office administrative issues to keep your workplace healthy, happy and productive.