Remote work is here to stay – and it has advantages and disadvantages

remote work
Image by nmedia | Bigstockphoto

Remote work is now a ‘thing’ and, by and large, it is being embraced by corporations across the world. According to an extensive study commissioned by VMWare and conducted by Vanson Bourne, the benefits are easy to see, but there are some downsides.

Overall, efficiency increases and, interestingly, increases more in high growth companies than in companies that are struggling or just maintaining their positions.

Remote work has given rise to new models and new ways of working, resulting in a new ‘virtual floorplan’ for an office. While most people group themselves into ‘areas’ where their closest colleagues work, there is more scope and desire to align with colleagues who share or have similar values. These are almost as important as colleagues that are close co-workers.

It is not just workers who are reporting benefits. Decision-makers are also reporting real benefits from remote work, and these have increased over the course of the pandemic. Just over half of decision-makers reported increased productivity, up from 32% in 2020, and the improvement in morale has jumped from 28% reporting this in 2020 to 44% in 2021.

Openet Annual Survey

There is, of course, a solid case for a hybrid approach, dividing workers’ time between remote work and time in the physical office. Some managers bring teams into the office when they see collaboration waning or morale needing to be bolstered.

Security, of course, has been flagged as a downside of remote work, and the study shows this to be the case. Not surprisingly, perhaps there is a gap between how IT and employees see the increased risk. 60% of IT executives believe there is a greater risk, while only 45% of workers see it that way.

Of course, during the pandemic, we have seen a huge increase in cyberattacks overall, but the study shows that companies that are making security a ‘team sport’ are doing better than those keeping things the same. Around half of the respondents continually train staff, use VPNs, encrypt data, and implement new data protection measures. Only 2% are doing nothing new.

There are those who object, particularly when it comes to restrictions about what devices employees can use to do their work. Predictably, the younger the employee, the greater the objection to any perceived restriction.

Overall, the great Remote Work experiment is definitely working and working well. There are downsides, notably increased security threats, but even in this area, making it a team sport must increase the morale and feeling of ownership and responsibility among colleagues.

Click here for the Infographic on security issues.

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