The Great Resignation of 2020 was an employee’s way of taking control of their work — of a third of their life — a number we very rarely seem to consider. Until recently, that is.
Whether it was the miserable response of most companies during the pandemic or years of watching our elders struggle with the non-negotiable 9-5 work structure, people are recognizing how vital their work is to their overall quality of life. And they’re willing to do something about it.
That’s where The Great Resignation came from. When the pandemic was on the up, many companies who initially went remote started reeling their employees back to an in-office schedule, not even considering a hybrid work model.
How did employees respond?
Nah, I’m out.
A single taste of remote work was enough to convince them that it’s the lifestyle they want. Instead of returning to a work style they didn’t enjoy, they just found a remote position.
Companies are still trying to catch up with this remote-preferred future. Let’s explore some of the challenges, benefits, and ways to find that balance of happy, productive employees and a strong business.
Challenges of Remote Work You Can’t Ignore
In order to truly reap the benefits of remote work, you have to understand the challenges too. If you don’t solve them, most benefits remain out of reach.
These are the biggest challenges of remote work (as well as what you can do to overcome them).
Benefits and policies that aren’t as they seem: it’s really easy for employers to talk about “unlimited time off” and “work on your own schedule,” but sometimes this is more talk than action. Having the flexibility to work your own hours isn’t what many experience. They start a job thinking this to be the case, only to be asked later on to be available during certain time frames so “you’re around when we need you”. As an employer, you have to ensure these are truly a benefit to your teams and stick to the policies—even encouraging them when needed.
Work-life balance: For many, shutting off work-mode after a long day isn’t as easy when you work from home. Even those who can work remotely will go into co-working spaces during the day to create some level of separation between home and work. You can do that or make sure your home office is set up for remote work effectively. As an employer, it’s also vital to make sure your team is off when they’re off so they truly get time to unwind. This starts with leading by example.
Remote work burnout: Without the right systems in place, your team can reach burnout much quicker. One of the biggest challenges is the pressure they face from their managers when it comes to completing work, responding to requests immediately, or hitting overreaching targets. A burnt out team is not an effective one. Learn how to prevent remote work burnout here.
Communication lapses: Most companies with remote work don’t have internal communication set up correctly. This leads to a lack of communication, or worse, too much communication that’s pointless and distracting. You need to find what works for your business, but a few good rules of thumb: keep project communication inside the project itself, bring your clients communication internal and outside of email if possible, get on camera for emotionally challenging conversations, and don’t have expectations of immediate responses.
Collaboration & cohesion: A big problem with remote work comes from siloed departments or individuals in teams. You’ll find this more with departments where each person has a very different role from one another (like marketing), but it can happen to any. If you want to avoid projects becoming disjointed and lacking a throughline, making it less effective (and even missing your client’s expectations), focus on finding a solid project management software that keeps everyone involved and focused.
Unshared vision: Your team doesn’t know your end goal based on the task or project you’ve just given them. In a healthy remote culture, you have to be very clear about exactly what you’re trying to accomplish, ensuring your whole team is not only on board, but that they know what they need to do to fulfill that specific vision. Without this, each person on the team will project their own vision onto the work, which is when it becomes disjointed and lacks cohesion. Always start with the vision.
So long as you tackle these challenges, you’ll be able to lean even further into the benefits of remote work.
What Are the Benefits of Remote Work – for Employers
It’s not just about improved employee retention or overhead savings (these benefits are common knowledge by now). Remote work helps the company and the person running it in a multitude of ways:
1. Higher growth rates
This doesn’t just come from reducing overhead costs, which increases your profitability. This also includes the uptick in productivity from your team due to all of their benefits of working remotely.
If you manage burnout and focus on realistic growth targets as well as setting your team up for success, you’ll find that they’re happier. Happier employees perform better, work better together, and even treat customers better.
All of these aid in your business’s ability to grow and expand over time.
2. More time at home
The people at the top — Presidents, CEOs, Managers — are usually the last ones in the office.
You get home later than your employees, which can lead to challenges in seeing your family as often as you’d like and even not being able to do the hobbies you love as frequently as you want.
Not only does this impact your home life, but you can (and will) bring those frustrations back into the office.
Maybe you become tougher on your employees.
Maybe you increase their workload as an effort to do less.
No matter the outcome, your team will feel the effects of how you’re doing holistically. A major benefit of remote work is that you can log out at the same time as your team with no guilt, and be home right away. No more late nights at the office.
3. Higher rate of innovation
There’s a recipe to innovation, and the most important ingredient is employees with the capacity and time for creativity.
It’s harder to innovate in an office setting because of a few things:
Group think: If you sit in a meeting together with a single objective to innovate something, everyone brainstorming outloud will fall into the phenomenon of only being able to think of what everyone else is. You don’t get varied input, which means fewer creative ideas being tossed around. The first person to think of something semi-good will get the support of the many and be your “winning” idea.
Interruptions/Distractions: Highly creative work requires deep, independent work for most people. Think about the times you’ve come up with your most out-of-the-box ideas. Did they happen surrounded by other people talking, answering phones, the incessant clicks of typing on a keyboard? Or did they happen in the shower or on a run or taking a long walk by yourself? By giving your teams the opportunity for at-home deep work, and then bringing them together to share ideas, you’ll have a much higher variety and of higher quality.
Annoying coworkers: It’s not easy to innovate when you’re irritated with the sound of someone’s voice in the cubicle next door. It might seem like an excuse people can make: “Well, Becky was irritating me so I couldn’t think straight.” The reality is…this is true. Frustrating, irritation, annoyance. None of these lead to creativity or innovation.
Working remotely not only gives you all of these benefits to bring quality visions to your team, but it also allows them to think differently.
What Are the Benefits of Remote Work – for Employees
We know you’ll save money on gas, not have to deal with that pesky coworker, get to work wherever you want, and can set your own hours with remote work. Those are benefits we see all the time.
But what about the lesser-known benefits of remote work that most don’t even consider that have the potential to add significant value to an employee’s life?
1. Less car wear & tear from transportation
It’s not just in gas money you’ll save. The average person can put up to 15,000+ miles on their car commuting to work every year. We know that car parts don’t last forever. The more mileage on your car, the less you’ll also get for trade-in value if you decide to purchase a new one.
Overall, you can save a significant amount of money by reducing the amount of oil changes, tire rotations, brakes, and other part replacements, as well as shave off the purchase cost of a new one down the road.
2. Easier control over what you consume
Who has ever dreaded that one counter in the office that always seems to magically have donuts, candies, or cake available? It doesn’t matter what it is, but it’s always something sugary and not great for you.
For some, this is fine. For others, it’s a nightmare to fight the urges to eat these treats day after day. A slice here and there is perfectly fine, but when you’re gobbling down sugary pastries or candies every day, it adds up over time, contributing to low energy and increased sugar cravings.
When you work remotely, you get to dictate what you eat and what’s put out to tempt you.
3. Doctor, dentist, and DMV appointments with ease
You no longer have to “take off work” in order to make it in for your annual check up. Finally. Most of these types of establishments have “average” working hours of 9-5, Monday through Friday, with just a handful of appointments on Saturday. But we already know that those short Saturday hours are the ones that book up the fastest.
And who wants to spend their Saturday at the dentist?
With a remote work schedule, you have the benefit of scheduling an appointment for a mundane Wednesday, popping in and out all within a lunch hour or two.
4. Cheaper flights
Airport Wifi is free, and flights booked Mondays — Thursdays are up to 20% cheaper than booking on the weekend. With a typical 9-5 in-person job, you’d have to take off work (and possibly not get paid for that day) if you wanted to take a Tuesday flight.
5. Live wherever you want
It’s not just that you get to work wherever you want. You also get to live anywhere you want. As long as you’re able to connect to the internet, the specific city doesn’t matter. Which means you can move to the rural country town where the cost of living is so cheap you can finally take those vacations you’ve been working up to for years, go to those concerts you couldn’t before, and get that dream car of yours.
Note: while we here at Basecamp believe in paying a person for a job and not based on where they live, there are some companies who will take cost of living into consideration for how much you’re paid, and moving to a lower-cost place could reduce your income.
6. More opportunity for best-performance & promotions
Most of us aren’t working in the way that’s best for us. Even those who work remotely often still subscribe to the 9-5 schedule because it’s either desired by management or they’re just stuck in their ways.
But if you take advantage of the work-anytime-you-want benefit of remote work, you can finally start to get to know how you work best.
Some people are the sharpest and most creative first thing in the morning. When the sun comes up at 6am, they’re ready to do many hours of deep, focused, creative work. Others have a high-energy output time much later in the day or even into the night.
Do you know when you do your best work? Are you listening to your mind and body and adjusting your work accordingly? When you pay attention and respond, you’ll be surprised how much energy you have for both work and life when you get this right.
And this doesn’t even take into consideration the long-term benefits of your career when you’re operating from such an effective place. Better work brings more opportunities—many of them for advancement and promotions.
There are endless benefits of remote work if you take the time to catalog all the perks. What you can challenge yourself with is truly utilizing the full spectrum of these benefits instead of only the few you hear about all the time.
If you’re looking for a better way to work remotely, look no further than the all-new Basecamp. It’s the fastest, easiest way to organize your remote teams. Get started today in just a few minutes (no credit card, no commitment).