Strategic Human Capital Insights

The Pros and Cons of Working Remotely + 10 Key Observations

Happy relaxed young woman sitting in her kitchen with a laptop in front of her stretching her arms above her head and looking out of the window with a smileSo, now your employees want to continue to work remotely. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons from both the employee and employer perspective.

In response to COVID-19 and quarantine restrictions, many employees were forced to work remotely. A situation that would have once seemed inconceivable, has now become a reality. As many employees have started to now return to the office, what are the pros and cons of working remotely?

From the Employee Perspective: 

Pros of Working Remotely

  • Working remotely really suits my lifestyle.
  • I can get my work done so why do I need to go back to the office? I have flexibility about when I put my 8 hours in. 
  • Why does the company need to spend money on office space? I can work from anywhere.  Why don’t they give me the money instead of using it for a facility? 
  • Can’t I work part-time from home and part-time in the office?
  • I really like not having to get dressed up for work.


Cons of Working Remotely

  • I have Zoom exhaustion – I can’t take it anymore.
  • I am working harder and longer than I do in the office.
  • I miss sharing information with my colleagues – it takes a real effort to communicate.
  • Where are my colleagues? When I need to call – no one is there. 


From the Employer Perspective:

Pros of Working Remotely

  • We can get the work done.
  • It’s OK for the short term but not for the long term.

Cons of Working Remotely

  • It just doesn’t feel right. I feel there is an impact on our collaborative culture.
  • Communication is an issue. I feel it is not as robust as it was when everyone was on site. 
  • I miss conversations where I can look colleagues in the eye and can see reactions.
  • I really have no idea what my people are doing. I have to trust them.


Observations of Remote Work:

With several months of experience in the rearview mirror, here are some observations regarding remote work:

  1. If your organization is built on collaboration, remote working can have a long-term negative impact on the natural collaboration that takes place when people are all together.

  2. If your organization’s culture is based on teamwork, collaboration and communication, continued remote work can cause your culture to potentially fracture.

  3. While the work can get done, be aware that employees can easily revert to individual functional silos vs. cross-functional networks.

  4. When concessions are made for remote work, make sure your organization doesn’t turn into a ‘lifestyle’ accommodation organization vs. a real, growing business.

  5. To manage employees remotely, you need high-quality leadership that continually stays connected. Less than high-quality leadership will hurt your organization.

  6. It is nearly impossible for a new employee to be adequately on-boarded when both the manager and the employee are working remotely. It is not totally impossible, but it takes a real commitment with constant monitoring and review. 

  7. Only your most competent employees can realistically work remotely and be both productive and effective.

  8. Leading a remote organization is not easy. It takes a lot more planning, communication, monitoring and proactive managing.

  9. Don’t take anything for granted and don’t rely on a strategy of hope.

  10. It often takes longer to get things done on time, with high quality, and on budget.


What critical organizational issues should you consider as you optimize the process of managing human capital in this new era of remote work? Download our 2020 Human Capital Checklist, which highlights the critical issues for your organization to regularly evaluate. You can also schedule a complimentary assessment with a member of our team.

Download the Human Capital Checklist


Topics: Change Management, Human Capital, Human Asset Management

Posted by Joanne Flynn

Joanne Flynn

In 2014, Joanne Flynn founded Phoenix Strategic Performance, a strategic human capital advisory firm. Prior to this, Joanne was Vice President at Goldman Sachs for 10 years responsible for global learning and development. She then led the consulting practice of Phoenix Group International, a consulting firm specializing in global financial service. Joanne is now taking best practices from the people-intensive financial services industry and adapting those best practices to startup and growth businesses. She is a thought leader in the areas of strategic organizational alignment, organizational agility, human capital gap analysis, leadership challenges for the new workplace and transformation leadership.

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