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What are the benefits and barriers associated with remote work?

12 Aug 2021

To remote work or not to remote work? An infographic from Canadian productivity software company CurrentWare weighs up the arguments for and against.

Everybody has an opinion on remote working, from real estate companies that want to hold on to earnings from office rentals to tech companies that have realised they can cut overheads significantly with a majority remote workforce.

And workers themselves are largely split on the issue, too. Some like working from home; others are clamouring to get back into the office, and many have found they want the best of both worlds that a hybrid model can offer.

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Canadian productivity software company CurrentWare has looked into the benefits and barriers associated with remote working. It has collated the results from studies done by other organisations and businesses around the issue to create an infographic that provides a neat summary of the main arguments for and against remote workplaces.

Benefits of a remote workforce

The main arguments in favour of allowing employees to work from different locations include better employee retention, more savings on time and money for everyone, less sick days and absences and a more productive, diverse workforce.

Something companies have been finding recently is that a remote work policy enables them to hire talent anywhere in the world, which means they have increased access to talent that they may not have had previously.

For their part, workers seem to appreciate at least some days a week when they can work from home and not face the office commute. Could the reduction in commuting time make workers more productive than before? It’s certainly possible that less office hours could mean less interruptions and water cooler chats – however, there is also the chance that the potential for inter-departmental collaboration may be lost.

For companies that want to reduce overheads as well as benefit from a more content workforce, less office time can be an advantage. Not only can businesses save big money on office rental costs, they can incentivise their employees to remain working for the company by allowing them the freedom to choose how they divide their time between their home and the office.

Barriers associated with remote work

Alas, there are downsides to remote working, too. People living in rural areas are less likely to have excellent internet access – and that’s whether they’re living in Canada or Cork. The Irish Government’s National Broadband Plan and the new Connected Hubs Network are looking to address this issue, but high-speed broadband is still not available to everyone in the country.

There is also the question of security, which is particularly important, not just for those working in tech but for anybody with a work email account or working from a personal device. Insecure public Wi-Fi, increased risk of loss of devices, poor cybersecurity hygiene and network sharing with vulnerable IoT devices were all cited as risks by researchers that are heightened with remote working.

And of course, social isolation is an issue that can crop up when teams are dispersed.

It ultimately depends on the individual worker and what they respond best to, but companies should take heed of those workers who do want a little bit of extra freedom. Giving workers the right to self-determine their workspace could pay dividends in the long run and separate companies from their competitors.

Inforgraphic by CurrentWare showing the advantages and disadvantages of remote working for employers and employees alike.

Infographic: CurrentWare

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea joined Silicon Republic in 2021 as Careers reporter, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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