Should companies hire more remote workers? CEOs, employees weigh in

Should companies hire more remote workers?

Wooed by the appeal of waking up later and working in pajamas, many company employees would answer with an emphatic “yes.” 

And some company leaders agree. 

“The happiest and most productive companies are staffed by teams who work remotely,” says Brian de Haaff, CEO of product roadmap software Aha!.

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De Haaff, who leads a team of remote workers, believes remote work gives employers access to a larger talent pool, while giving remote workers more freedom, better health, a bigger sense of accomplishment and more room to be productive.

De Haaf, who says remote workers are outperforming office-bound employees, cites benefits for remote workers as follows:

  • No need to settle for a job within driving distance of one’s home
  • No need to rush home for family duties -- you’re already there
  • No commute means more time for sleep and exercise
  • Distance makes the heart grow fonder, not complacent, which means working remotely leads to more meaningful conversations with co-workers
  • Fewer office distractions means more time to be productive

“Remote work leads to happier and more productive teams. And when workers are happy and productive, they bring their best to each day -- which in turn leads to happier customers,” de Haaff wrote in a LinkedIn blog post. “In other words, everyone benefits.”

But Richard Laermer, CEO of RLM Public Relations, believes otherwise. 

“I think people have to be trusted,” Laermer told Bloomberg. “But the working-from-home thing has to be on a per-person basis, and it can’t be very often. It just doesn’t work.”

Laermer, who once let his workers do their jobs remotely often, used to believe that “you can get your work done anywhere, as long as you actually get it done.” But he had a change of heart after employees took advantage of the perk by being unavailable online and refusing to go into the office for meetings.

Other companies, including Yahoo, IBM and Best Buy, which once allowed more workers to do their jobs remotely, have rolled back at-home allowances, with some claiming remote workers are more likely to get distracted by non-work-related tasks.

According to The New York Times, people employed in the fields of community and social services; science, engineering and architecture; and education, training and library, are less likely to work remotely. And that may be fair, The Atlantic reported, as jobs in those fields -- and others -- often require in-person interactions with clients and customers or “collaborative efficiency,” necessary for solving problems as a group.

But many workers and studies show working remotely has benefits that can’t be denied.

Bloomberg points out that more telecommuters means more savings for companies because they don’t have to pay fees and monthly costs to rent out large office buildings.

“People do their best work when they are given the autonomy to work where they need to,” Michael Beach, a business adviser, wrote on a LinkedIn forum about remote work. “The ideal situation is allowing people to work at the office and at home and let them decide how best to deliver the results that you're counting on them to produce.”

“Depends on the professional and the scope of work activities,” Lori Ann Reese, a brand manager and content specialist, wrote on the same forum. “Culture of the business, nature of the job duties, and strengths of the worker are all factors that decide whether it ‘works’ or does not.”

Regardless of one’s view, remote work is growing. According to the Society of Human Resource Management, remote work has increased 20 percent in the last 20 years. And a Gallup report found that “flexible scheduling and work-from-home opportunities play a major role in an employee’s decision to take or leave a job.”

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