Pros and Cons of Employees Working Remotely
With two-thirds of employees working from home at least part-time, employers are finding there are advantages and disadvantages.
When the danger presented by COVID-19 was discovered, federal, state and local governments ordered businesses to temporarily shut down, leading many employers to decide it might be advantageous to have a lot of those employees work from home. According to a survey from Clutch, a B2B ratings and reviews platform, two-third of employees began working remotely for at least part of the workweek.
Now that restrictions have eased, employers are wondering whether they should retain the new status quo.
Global Workplace Analytics, a research-based consulting firm, estimates that more than half of the U.S. workforce has jobs that are at least partially compatible with working remotely. In addition, they estimate that 25 to 30 percent of the workforce will be working from home multiple days a week by the end of 2021.
If you are considering keeping part or all your employees working remotely, you should not only evaluate the benefits to your business, but the associated costs as well.
- Reduced Costs. One of the biggest benefits of having employees work remotely is reduced overhead. Global Workplace Analytics estimates that employers can save more than $11,000 per half-time telecommuter per year. There is less office equipment and furniture to supply; you save on power bills, office supplies and breakroom beverages. You may also be able to request that employees who work remotely use their own phone lines and home computers.
- Greater Job Satisfaction and Productivity. Allowing employees to work from home and have flexible schedules usually increases job satisfaction and reduces turnover. Lower attrition saves money on advertising, and screening and training new hires. It may also allow you to choose from a larger pool of employees — people with talents you need but who crave the flexibility of working from home.
Employees who work from home reportedly are more productive because they enjoy having greater autonomy, they have fewer interruptions and can focus on their work better. Overall, they have higher morale and enjoy their jobs more because of the opportunity to balance work and home life more easily.
- Reduced Environmental Impact. Holding meetings via email, telephone and video conferences means less travel — thus reduced automobile emissions. This lessens the environmental impact, as well as adding the drive time back to productive work hours.
- Employers Liability Insurance. Most workers compensation policies have a section two coverage called Employer’s Liability, which is particularly important for employers to have if they have remote workers. Section one provides traditional workers compensation benefits on a no-fault basis to employees injured on the job. It applies to workers wherever they may be, at the office or at home.
However, when someone works from home, the distinction between whether an injury is work-related or not can sometimes be blurry. If the workers’ compensation carrier or third-party administrator (if self-insured) determines the injury does not meet the test of being work-related, your employee may decide to sue you because of their injury. That’s where Employer’s Liability protects you by defending you against such claims.
Employer’s Liability coverage also protects against allegations of negligence and other torts that are outside the purview of workers compensation. (Though not for allegations of discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful termination and other employment related issues; that’s what Employment Practices Liability Insurance is for.)
- Employer Costs. Many employers fear that employees will shirk their duties and not work a full shift. It’s suggested that employers outline work-from-home expectations, set productivity goals and conduct regular progress check-ins.
- Reduced Corporate Morale. Other disadvantages of having remote workers might be measured in terms of its effect on the corporate culture, team building and increased isolation. Employees may not feel as much like they’re part of a company’s bigger picture when they’re not physically in the office and brainstorming with coworkers every day.