While technology makes remote work more and more feasible, especially in today’s day and age, companies are finding that keeping employees on site is more effective. There are significant disadvantages to remote working, as well as equally significant advantages to working in the office. From communication, productivity and more, the best option for where employees, and yourself as a leader should work, is clear.
From submitting materials through email to low-cost teleconferencing and video-conferencing, the old reasons for making employees commute to the office no longer apply. Why not eliminate commute time, save office space/costs and dive in to remote working? Most proponents of remote working come from progressive companies, most notably internet firms. Unfortunately, a lot of approaches from these businesses don’t necessarily apply to everyone else.
A major advantage is captured with the simple concept of ‘face-to-face’. People can see not only each others’ face, but entire bodies. Gestures, nuanced expression, body language and more is all lost with the simple, typically lower-quality Zoom meetings. In fact, emails are notorious for this and can easily lend themselves to misinterpretation. Verbal and non-verbal behaviors are critical to successful understanding and collaboration between employees, leaders and clients. All of these are downgraded when the ‘face-to-face’ is lost with remote working.
A benefit that most don’t mention is even the random ad hoc discussion and impromptu meetings that can happen in office spaces. These can lead to surprising breakthroughs and innovative ideas, which wouldn’t take place with a business that is only connected via email or Zoom. Remote work is rooted essentially in meetings and calls that are scheduled only, where spontaneity can almost never occur.
Some traditional practices exist for good reasons. Remote work might satisfy the employee-centered approach to working in the 21st century, but remote working is actually undermining productivity and communication. There may be situations where remote working is feasible or even preferable, but these situations should be taken as rarities. The best approach is the using technology in moderation to enhance productivity, while keeping the best approach which worked before lines were laid in the ground for internet: Face-to-face.