Remote or office-based – what’s the big deal? As long as the work is getting done! Right?

With many high-profile companies signaling the end of remote work or at least a decrease in remote work, I wanted to explore the considerations in full.

The benefits of remote work are well-known, so I won’t go into detail here.

For employees:

  • Travel costs are lower.
  • Less time spent traveling and reduced stress from commuting.
  • Potentially less distractions.
  • Improved work-life balance.
  • Ability to set up your work environment how you like it.

For employers:

  • Cost savings – lower overheads and operating costs.
  • Access to a wider talent pool.
  • Assists diversity and inclusion, especially when it’s flexible (remote ≠ flexible).
  • Reduction in absenteeism.
  • Productivity improves.
  • Loyalty increases.
  • Forces modernization and technology adoption.

However, it’s the disadvantages and potential downsides where things get a little more complicated.

For employees

  • Visibility for promotion: When you’re not in the office, it can be harder for your manager and other decision-makers to see your work, accomplishments, how you deal with challenges, and your communication with other employees. This can make it more difficult to get promoted.
  • Separating work and home: It can be challenging to create a clear boundary between work and personal time when you’re working from home. This can lead to burnout, as you may find yourself working longer hours or checking work emails outside of work hours.
  • Distractions: When you’re working from home, there are many more potential distractions than there are in an office. Whether it be household chores, pets, family, or perhaps without direct supervision you have a tendency to procrastinate.
  • Meeting overload: What could be a quick question in the office may turn into an ineffective meeting when working remotely. In an effort to boost communication and collaboration too many meetings are booked with too many people.
  • Learning and growth opportunities: It can be harder to learn new skills and grow your career when you’re not in the office and interacting with your colleagues. This is because you miss out on the informal learning that happens naturally in the office, such as asking questions and brainstorming ideas with your colleagues.
  • Communication: You miss out on the informal but important chats that happen naturally in the office. Not only for building relationships with colleagues but keeping up to date on projects, asking quick questions, and nudging a colleague politely that you are waiting on something from them.
  • Innovation: It can be harder to be innovative and feel connected to the business when you’re not in the office. You may miss out on the day-to-day interactions with customers, clients, and other stakeholders, understanding those things that will really make a difference and need to get done.
  • Loneliness/isolation: It can be lonely working from home all day, and you may miss the social interaction of the office. This can lead to isolation and depression.
  • Increased technology dependency: You become more reliant on technology when you’re working remotely. This can lead to burnout, as you may be constantly checking emails, messages, and other notifications.

For employers

  • Difficulty onboarding new hires: It can be more difficult to onboard new hires when they’re not in the office. This is because you miss out on the opportunity to tangibly introduce them to the company culture and team members in person.
  • Identifying training needs: The work might be getting done, but you may not be able to see the challenges that remote employees are facing, which can make it difficult to identify the training and support they need.
  • Identifying leadership potential: Those informal interactions in the office, the help provided, the suggestions, and the attitude can’t be seen as easily in a remote environment.
  • Security risks: The risk of data breaches, sensitive or confidential information being misplaced, malware or network intrusions are reportedly far greater.
  • Team building: Getting to know people on video is far different than in the office or the after-work social, familiarity builds trust
  • Collaboration: Even with some amazing tech to assist collaboration, sometimes the best ideas occur outside of meetings and formal situations, and getting validation for ideas is less simple. Familiarity with the work of others is limited when you aren’t in close proximity.
  • Fostering a company culture: That sense of community and belonging is harder to feel a part of. Successes of the team may feel intangible.
  • Employees feeling disconnected: When employees don’t feel part of something it can lead to a lack of motivation and engagement.

So, what can be done to ensure remote working is actually working?

Here are a few tips:

Visibility for promotion:

  • Set clear expectations and guidelines for remote employees. This should include what is expected of them in terms of their work output, communication, and availability.
  • Provide regular feedback and performance reviews. This will help employees track their progress and identify areas where they can improve.
  • Encourage remote employees to participate in company events and activities. This will help them stay connected to the company and their colleagues.
  • Consider implementing a formal mentorship program for remote employees. This will give them the opportunity to learn from and network with more experienced employees.

Separating work and home:

  • Encourage remote employees to set up a dedicated workspace in their homes, if possible, and get to know their individual circumstances to support their needs. This will help them create a clear boundary between work and personal time.
  • Set clear boundaries with family members or housemates. Let them know when you are available and unavailable.
  • Take breaks throughout the day to get away from your computer and relax.
  • Exercise regularly. This will help you reduce stress and improve your overall well-being.


  • Identify the distractions that are most common for you and develop strategies to deal with them. For example, if you find yourself getting distracted by social media, try turning off your notifications or using a website blocker.
  • Set aside specific times for checking email and social media. This will help you avoid checking them constantly throughout the day.
  • Take breaks throughout the day to get away from your computer and work on something else. This will help you stay focused and productive.

Meeting overload:

  • Use video conferencing tools to make meetings more efficient. This will help you avoid having to travel to meetings and save time.
  • Have a clear and written agenda with clear expectations for meetings. This should include the purpose of the meeting, who should attend, and what should be accomplished.
  • Keep meetings short and to the point.
  • Don’t over-invite.

Learning and growth opportunities:

  • Encourage remote employees to take online courses or workshops. This will help them stay up-to-date on the latest trends in their field.
  • Provide remote employees with access to mentorship programs and other resources. This will help them develop their skills and knowledge.
  • Encourage remote employees to network with colleagues and other professionals in their field. This will help them stay connected and learn from others.

Informal learning moments and communication:

  • Use instant messaging or video conferencing tools to stay connected with colleagues.
  • Encourage remote employees to participate in company chat rooms or forums.
  • Schedule regular team lunches or coffee breaks. This will give remote employees the opportunity to socialize and connect with their colleagues. Think speed-dating for work.


  • Encourage remote employees to share their ideas and suggestions.
  • Give remote employees the opportunity to work on projects that they are passionate about.
  • Provide remote employees with access to the same information and resources as in-office employees.
  • Share company objectives regularly, share challenges and priorities for different teams within the organisation and encourage people to ask questions.


  • Encourage remote employees to stay connected with their colleagues and friends. This could involve setting up regular video calls or coffee breaks.
  • Encourage remote employees to join clubs or groups related to their interests.
  • Provide remote employees with access to mental health resources.

Increased technology dependency:

  • Encourage remote employees to take breaks throughout the day to get away from their computers and relax.
  • Encourage phone calls, where appropriate.
  • Have days with no online meetings or dont expect responses to BAU emails on some days.
  • Provide remote employees with ergonomic equipment to help prevent injuries.

Being a manager of a remote team comes with its own unique challenges; empathy is key! Taking time to understand, regularly, each person’s situation, challenges, desires etc can be so valuable in helping to appreciate and work towards mitigating many of the potential problems outlined above.

The decision of whether to work remotely or in the office is a complex one.

There are pros and cons to both approaches. Ultimately, the best approach for a particular company or employee will depend on a variety of factors and even within a company, different teams may benefit from different approaches.

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