HR Management & Compliance

Should You Let Employees Transition to Working Remotely?

Workplace flexibility is an increasingly important factor for employees when selecting an employer. Often, that flexibility comes in the form of the ability to work remotely.

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New data from FlexJobs shows that working remotely is the most sought-after work perk, with 81% of survey respondents saying this is the type of workplace flexibility they most want.
Some employers offer opportunities to work from home a couple of days per week or month, but some employees crave even more flexibility—the ability to work remotely full-time.
Whether it’s for the convenience of not having to commute to work every day or to live wherever they want without foregoing employment opportunities, the quest for more flexibility is on the rise.
Many employers offer telecommuting opportunities up front; the job is built as a remote opportunity. But what about employees who start out in-office but then request the ability to work remotely? Here are some considerations when faced with such requests.

Does the Work Require Face-to-Face Interaction?

Especially with increasingly improved telecommunications technology, working remotely is more feasible than ever. In some cases, considerations may need to be made for differences in time zones, but it’s not difficult to facilitate real-time communication and interaction with employees located thousands of miles apart.
Still, some roles may place more of a premium on being available in person. This is particularly true with team-intensive roles. “An employee who wants to telecommute can potentially affect coworkers and workflows,” says an article by Time Doctor, “so you should consider entire departments and teams as you make your decision.”

How Feasible Is It to Arrange Periodic Visits?

Even if an employee’s work generally doesn’t require face-to-face interaction, it’s typically beneficial to have at least periodic visits to the home base.
Depending on the role, the frequency will vary, but one factor to consider when employees wish to work remotely is how easy it is to get them back to base when needed. Are they living a 1-hour direct flight away or on another continent requiring a 24-hour, multiconnection flight followed or preceded by a long drive?

Is the Employee Likely to Succeed Remotely?

Managers generally know how well their employees work on their own. Some need constant supervision, while others are highly independent. It’s the latter group that is most likely to succeed working remotely.

How Critical Is the Employee?

Frankly, not all employees are critical to the organization and can be replaced if needed. If an employee is dead set on moving across the country or to the other side of the world, it might make sense to simply part ways if a replacement can be relatively easily found. On the other hand, employees who are, for whatever reason, critical to the success of the organization may require certain accommodations.
Employees increasingly put a premium on flexibility, and working remotely is the Holy Grail for some in this regard. While some employers treat certain positions as remote from the start, others may be faced with in-office employees’ requesting a transition to remote status, and they need to consider whether such a move is a good fit.