Of all the changes wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work has become the stickiest.
Early in the pandemic, nearly 60% of U.S. employees working remotely reported wanting to do so post-pandemic. Today, 59% of workers whose jobs can be done remotely work from home all or most of the time.
Understanding the Benefits
As with any significant operational shift, there are benefits and challenges that companies must navigate, and a remote work environment is no different. On the positive side, numerous studies have shown how remote work benefits employers. These include:
Understanding the Challenges
While the benefits of remote work are undoubtedly significant, there are certainly challenges with which companies must contend. For example, some employees may take the definition of “remote” to the extreme and set up their remote office in another country without their employer’s knowledge. One such example is “Matt,” an employee who shared the incredible lengths he went to deceive his employer after his request to continue living and working overseas post-pandemic was denied, including:
While the deception and abuse of his company’s work-from-home policy are bad enough, Matt’s actions also expose his company to significant legal risks, such as violating compliance requirements depending on the industry, and cybersecurity risks.
Of course, offshore work locations are not the only source of IT/cybersecurity risk employer face in a remote work environment, as domestic internet networks can also be vulnerable to attacks. In addition, maintaining company-issued devices also becomes a challenge if employees are not centrally located, and for those companies that employ Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies, ensuring data privacy and security on employees’ personal devices can be tricky, especially if it affects the employee’s ability to access non-work-related sites and content.
In addition, regulatory requirements in many industries mandate that employers verify the physical security of employee workspaces, and a remote work environment definitely creates a logistical hurdle in this regard. Examples of regulated industries include mortgage lending, government employees, financial advisors, etc.
On an individual level, a remote work environment also poses challenges for managing and monitoring staff. From a supervisory perspective, telecommuting can diminish the direct, in-person interaction inherent in personnel management. This might make it more difficult for teams to communicate and collaborate or for employees to seek real-time guidance from their direct supervisors.
For managers, it’s difficult to know whether employees are working from where they say they are when using a background image or simply turning off the camera can easily mask an employee’s location. In addition, assessing employee adherence to company data privacy and cybersecurity protocols is also a challenge, as managers cannot easily physically inspect employees’ home offices or conduct unannounced spot checks.
Interested in learning more about how the mortgage industry manages remote work? Check out our article on Best Practices for Remote Work in the Mortgage Business.