What comes to mind when you hear the term “remote work”? Is it someone working away in their home office wearing a button-down shirt or sweatpants? Maybe it is an image of a digital nomad working in flip-flops and board shorts in Tulum.
Since it looks like telecommuting in certain industries is here to stay, today’s Master of Business Administration (MBA) graduates need to know about the impact of remote work on business and how to navigate this new professional environment.
What Lessons Has the Shift to Remote Work Taught the Business Community?
As with most evolutions, significant changes come become solutions to problems. In the case of the shift to remote work, what started as a temporary response to a global health crisis has evolved into a widely accepted business strategy. What makes remote work so compelling from the employee’s perspective?
According to the remote job search site FlexJobs, the average one-way commute in the U.S. is 27.1 minutes. That adds up to about an hour each day spent traveling to and from work.
As the COVID-19 pandemic wound down, some companies found themselves with employees who were unwilling to return to the stress of long commute times and office spaces. In fact, a 2022 FlexJobs survey found that only 3% of employees want to return to the office full time, and 87% say remote work improves work-life balance.
What happens when employers insist workers return to the office? According to FlexJobs, 63% would “absolutely” leave their job if remote work were not possible. It is not surprising, then, to hear from Hunt Scanlon that close to 28% of hiring managers expect their organizations to be fully remote in the next five years.
What Is the Positive Impact of Remote Work?
The shift toward remote work is a change that many are eager to make. The positive impact it has had on the bottom line for businesses that were quick to adapt has been somewhat of a revelation. Let’s look at some examples.
- According to Forbes, “remote teams get more done in less time allowing them to start new projects, spend more time doing what’s working, and ultimately improve your bottom line.”
- Companies have more flexibility to hire outside the local applicant pool — which can be limiting from a talent perspective — without worrying about expensive relocation costs.
- Forbes also points to the financial benefits of going remote. As one example, Aetna let go of 7 million square feet of office space for a cost savings of $78 million per year.
Remote and hybrid work might be the way of the future, but it does not come without any challenges. Some of the potential drawbacks are as follows:
- While many have embraced the home office and its time-saving and lifestyle benefits, many people relied on their colleagues to meet social needs pre-pandemic and have struggled to adapt. Wellable, a corporate wellness company, says that “not having these interactions is why employees view loneliness as the biggest struggle of working remotely.”
- Arun Sacher cites communication challenges in a decentralized workforce, noting that “remote work generally threatens the informal information sharing and open communication lines facilitated by shared physical spaces.”
- Not all industries are well suited to remote work. Some that are not include retail and manufacturing. Some organizations may have a mix of employees who can work remotely and others who simply cannot, raising concerns about diversity, equity and inclusion.
This is just the beginning of the pros and cons of this new and complex professional ecosystem. The key takeaway and great news for University of West Florida MBA graduates is that companies across every industry need energized, solution-oriented candidates to help them navigate this changing professional landscape.
Courses like UWF’s Management and Organizational Behavior course and the Operations Management Problems course that teach students how to analyze and solve business problems have never seemed more relevant.
Learn more about the University of West Florida’s online MBA program.