It’s been over a year since COVID-19 upended the way in which we all work and live. Casting us into our homes, the pandemic unequivocally reinforced technology’s role in business—regardless of industry. With conference rooms and office lobbies out of sight, employees adjusted to a new working world—one rife with video calls, chat channels, and virtual hangouts.
In fact, some well-known companies, like Twitter and Spotify, even introduced permanent work-from-anywhere policies. With or without the pandemic, it’s safe to say that remote work is here to stay (in some capacity at least). So, what are some of the advantages and disadvantages of telework? I break this down below based on my own experience at Asset Living—a company with 4,500 employees nationwide and a prominent remote presence.
With the right technology in place, efficiency and productivity are bolstered when employees plug in remotely. The frequency of formal communication goes up—hopping on a video call to discuss a project or solve a problem is not only common, but expected. With just the click of a mouse, you can virtually enter a meeting room, quickly sync with a colleague, then swiftly transition to your next task. No conference room reservation required. There’s also an advantage to having team members teleworking across various locales. For example, when Winter Storm Uri hit Texas recently—some communities lost power, while others did not. In spite this, our decentralized teams (working from various cities) remained agile, productive, and connected.
Telework, at an institutional level, inherently widens the pool of candidates employers can tap into. We’ve had the privilege of experiencing this first-hand at Asset. Having access to the skillsets of individuals near and far is an often-overlooked advantage of being a remote friendly organization. While your company’s flagship presence may be in Phoenix, having the ability to discover, and work with someone in Nashville could give your teams a competitive edge.
In the end, whoever is best fit for the role, gets the offer—sidestepping the limitations of geography.
Flexibility is the new work-life balance. And, luckily, telework affords us exactly that. Time that would otherwise be spent commuting can now be used toward something more productive—whether that be catching up on last night’s emails or cooking breakfast with a loved one. Over the last year, I’ve had the luxury of working while my dogs lay at the foot of my desk, and the privilege of feeding my son during lunch hour (despite the many midday shirt changes). These moments are special and granted only through the flexibility that remote work offers.
Although this new normal has its fair share of benefits, it would be remiss not to acknowledge some of the tradeoffs that come with working remotely.
I think we can all admit that working with someone, sharing ideas with them, and ultimately connecting with them is entirely different when it takes place in person versus on a series of video calls.
You miss out on the little things—the hallway small talk, the walk together to lunch, the fortuitous exchanges in the elevator ride up to your floor.
These moments may seem inconsequential, but over time they form an unspoken bond between colleagues. This solidarity establishes trust—and while this bond isn't impossible to cultivate when teleworking, it’s significantly easier to attain when everyone’s under one roof.
Company culture is harder to maintain through computer screens. As a result, the responsibility of encouraging connection within an organization falls on its managers, supervisors, and senior leaders. Admittedly, this can be challenging. As an organization, it requires heightened executive communication and visibility on video calls and in any town halls. Personally, I make sure to schedule a one-on-one onboarding call with every new hire at the corporate level—but it doesn’t end there.
Management must continue to make a concerted effort to connect with direct reports—ensuring they feel supported, connected, and empowered to do their best work.
Ultimately—like most things worth having—remote work requires you to grind. You have to put in the work, to reap the value.