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Pros and cons of allowing employees to work from home

|Nov 27|magazine17 min read

A recent survey has highlighted that one third of full time Canadian employees would sacrifice salary, vacation or benefits in exchange for the opportunity to work remotely.

The Rogers Connected Workplace report also shows that over half of Canadians - including both Baby Boomers and Generation Y employees - think it's important to work with the latest technology and want to be given the freedom to do so from anywhere. However many feel they don't have access to resources or workplace policies to make this a reality.

“It is clear that by making the shift to a more connected workplace, small and large businesses have an opportunity to influence productivity and drive innovation,” said Steve Van Binsbergen, Vice President, Business Segment, Rogers Communications. “Businesses that enable employees to work seamlessly across devices and environments stand ready to improve employee morale and deliver better customer experiences.”

Key findings from the research indicate that Canadian employers may be wise to re-evaluate the way in which they manage people. With the influx of technology and thus the ability to work remotely, employees are more and more inclined to get out of the office and work from locations where they feel most productive.

Canadians willing to sacrifice salary and vacation days to work from anywhere

One third of Canadians (33 percent) say they would sacrifice something (including salary, vacation days and employee benefits) to work remotely. Furthermore, more than half (a staggering 59 percent) agree that in the future, flexible work hours and the ability to work from anywhere will be top priorities in the choice of employer.

Canadians want access to the latest tech but don't want to lose face-to-face interactions

Technology is playing an increasingly important role in our lives, and as such employees find it frustrating when the systems and devices they are using at work do not meet modern standards. The report highlights this further when it notes that job satisfaction could increase for almost half (47 percent) of Canadians if employers provided the latest technology tools and services.

What’s more, Baby boomers are just as likely as their Gen Y counterparts to attribute access to the latest technology as being important (70 percent and 66 percent, respectively). While many employees wanted the ability to work remotely, almost eight in 10 (76 percent) did concede that collaborative workplaces make them more productive.

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Canadians willing to erase personal and professional lines ("Bring Your Own Device")

A quarter of Canadian smartphone users (23 percent) who carry two smartphones do so because their employer doesn't allow them to connect their device to the company server, and yet over half of Canadians (54 percent) who use their smartphone for personal and professional purposes are comfortable with employers enforcing security policies.

Laptops and tablets are future devices of choice for Canadian workers over desktop PCs

The fourth major trend recognized in the report was that Canadians spend the majority of their workday using traditional workplace devices such as desktop computers (45 percent) and landlines (10 percent). However, in the future, Canadians would prefer to use laptops (40 percent), tablets (15 percent), and smartphones (10 percent) as primary work devices.

“Evolving technologies are redefining the Canadian workplace,” said Binsbergen.

How to manage remote employees

For employers, news that employees want to work remotely can be daunting. Fear that people will work less and take advantage of the privilege is rife, however technology makes it a lot harder for employees to shirk their responsibilities.

As an employer, you can now see when people are logged into their email accounts, you can have them updating spreadsheets in the cloud that you can access in real-time and at the touch of a button you can communicate with them face to face via tools like Skype and FaceTime.

Furthermore, we live in a world now where everyone is used to being connected 24/7 and thus the idea of working outside of an office environment is appealing rather than alien. Some studies even indicate that employees are more productive working from home.

Points to consider before making a decision about remote working:

  • Marissa Mayers, CEO at Yahoo, controversially banned working from home. In a memo to the company she wrote: “Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo, and that starts with physically being together.”
     
  • Employees that work in an office are more likely to receive a promotion compared to their counterparts working remotely and therefore employers could potentially be wasting the talent of potentially great managers.
     
  • Telecommuting cuts down on traffic during peak hours, reduces companies’ real estate costs and improves employee morale, leading to less turnover.
     
  • Research conducted at Stanford indicated that employees that work from home are sick less often, happier in their role and less likely to look for new employment opportunities.
     
  • Remote working can cause disconnect among employees.
     
  • Some people would say that in many jobs there is no clear distinction between home and office. Thanks to cellphones and wireless connections, it is possible to be tethered to the office and expected to respond to work calls and e-mail messages every waking hour. This can lead to a poor work / life balance and thus employees ‘burn out’ quicker.

It is clear from research that employees are erring on the side of remote working. With it comes more freedom and the ability to manage your own time more effectively, however employers need to consider the pros and cons before making any decisions.

Remote working may be successful for some industries and not for others. Some companies may choose to allow employees a day working from home per week to give them that freedom, while maintaining employee / employer relations and a collaborative culture.

What are your thoughts on remote working? Join the discussion on our Facebook page. 

 

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To download the comprehensive Rogers Connected Workplace report, visit the SlideShare link here.

To learn how Rogers is delivering the connected enterprise to Canadian businesses, visit: rogers.com/enterprise