The Rise of Virtual Offices and the Impact on Human Resources

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Remote working, or working from home, is a trend that is sweeping the nation. Between 2012 and 2016, the number of people working remotely for four or five days a week in the United States rose from 24 percent to 31 percent. 43 percent of Americans reported spending some amount of time working from home last year, which is a 39 percent increase from 2012. So how does an increase in remote working affect the role of Human Resources (HR) Officers? Here are some HR pros and cons of remote working.

Pros

  • The ability to hire remote workers increases the pool of candidates in which HR officers can choose from. As you may have experienced on far too many occasions, the perfect candidate passes up the job offer because of their location. Now, remote working eliminates the need for relocation and gives employers a much wider geographic reach.
  • Working from home decreases the employee turnover rate. According to a Stanford study, offering the option of working from home decreases job attrition rates by over 50 percent. This is because working from home allows employees the freedom to do as they please. They can set their own schedule, and find a better balance between work and their personal lives. Employees have more time to do what they love and spend more time with the family. With a lower attrition rate, HR resources and budgets can be allocated to other tasks besides recruitment.
  • 82 percent of employees that work from home report lower levels of stress. This increases company morale and results in lower HR violations and problems in the workplace.

Cons

  • Although the possibility of remote working increases the geographic range of employees, it may also be a hindrance for others, creating problems with diversity. Working from home requires one to provide their own facilities, particularly internet connection, electricity, and sometimes a computer. This may be a problem in areas that do not have the luxury of electricity or a speedy internet connection.
  • Working from home blurs the line between work and home, and breaks the connection between managers and the employee. This means that if an employee conducts an ethical violation, it is harder to track. Managers also report that it is harder to punish a worker because they are unaware of the boundaries when an employee commits a violation in their own home.
  • Relationships are harder to form when employees are not physically in the office space, and therefore it is difficult to connect employees to mentors and others that may help to advance their career. This may hinder employees from moving up the chain of command, or finding a route to their career goals.