Working Remotely: A Right or Privilege?

In today’s ever-changing marketplace, employers are trying to meet the needs of an evolving workforce that values the ability to work remotely. In a recent survey of global business leaders, more than one-third said they expected half of their workforce to work remotely by 2020.

This is a radical change from how business has been conducted in the past, which valued and expected employees to be physically gathered in the same space during business hours. Working remotely happened only on rare occasions and in more extreme circumstances.

Now, new technology and changing work attitudes, have blurred the lines between the traditional office workplace and the home office. Today, employees will often take work home or make themselves available outside of regular business hours. Younger workers also expect a degree of job mobility and flexibility that would have been unheard of a generation ago.

This raises an interesting question: Will working remotely become a right instead of a privilege?

Legal Grounds vs. Market Forces

In most countries, there is no legal difference between remote and office employees since both are subject to the same legal requirements and protections. But some have legally challenged this and demanded for the right to work remotely, despite their employer’s wishes. For example, a man in Canada claimed he was unable to work in the office due to an ailing parent. The court ruled in his favor.

Although some courts may rule that individuals can work remotely in some rare cases involving disabilities or hardships, it is unlikely this will be a right codified into law. There are no legal grounds for such a decision. But market forces and continued advances in technology may continue to put pressure on employers to allow this.

Mutual Benefits

Studies have shown that employees who work remotely enjoy numerous benefits including, no commute, higher work satisfaction and better work/home life balance. But workers aren’t the only ones who prosper from this arrangement. Businesses also reap the rewards of having increased productivity, lower attrition rates, greater savings and access to a larger talent pool. This is a win-win strategy for both employers and employees.

Establish the Right Infrastucture

As more companies shift toward having employees work remotely, it is important that businesses adopt a forward-looking approach. Remote workers should be given all the support they need to thrive, from technological to managerial.

Supervisors need to maintain open channels of communication to ensure effective productivity from employees working remotely. Investing in employees who work from home without the proper infrastructure to support them can be costly and hurt your bottom line.

There is little doubt that working remotely will continue to be more prevalent to meet evolving employee needs. Employers will need to be flexible with work conditions to be able to recruit top talent. With the proper infrastructure in place, you will have a successful strategy that will help you be competitive in a global market.