Thanks to the internet, working from home has become a reality for more people than ever before. For individual workers, the option to do their job from home means greater career autonomy, more control over their working day, and less stress – after all, there’s no need to worry about being late for work if you’re based in a home office, and you’ll avoid getting stuck in traffic on the commute home. Working from home is also a great way to save money since auto insurance costs less if you don’t need a car for commuting, you’ll buy less gas, and you can eat at home rather than going to an overpriced café outside the office.

On the other side of the coin, managing a team of remote workers also has a wide range of benefits for employers, so it’s no surprise that an ever-growing number of companies are hiring virtual workers in favor of office-based employees. But, even the biggest advocates of remote working will agree that there are several advantages that both employers and employees miss out on in a virtual team environment.

So, before you go ahead and start looking for remote employees, read on for the various pros and cons of having a virtual workforce.

The Pros:

#1. Happier, More Satisfied Employees:
It goes without saying that employees who are happy and satisfied in their role are more likely to be highly productive, motivated to help out and work extra if necessary and be fiercely loyal to their employer. Working remotely gives employees an extra degree of flexibility, improving their work/life balance and giving them more control. For example, home-based workers don’t need to book time off to go to a doctor’s appointment or request shifts that allow them to drop off and collect their children from school – they can simply work around their personal tasks and commitments.

Studies show that the opportunity to work from home is just what the majority of employees want. In fact, a survey conducted by GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics found that a huge 79% of people would prefer to work from home, and almost 40% of workers would take it over a pay rise.

#2. Cut Business Costs:
Any business owner will tell you that cutting costs is always a top priority, no matter how successful your company is. Keeping costs low will maximize your profits, allowing for faster brand growth and expansion.

But, hiring employees can be a costly process. Not only do you need to pay to advertise your role, but there are also training costs to consider, along with ensuring that you provide suitable office space and equipment for your staff. And, of course, you’ll need to pay each employee a regular hourly wage or monthly salary.

Research has shown that almost six out of ten employers list cost savings as a significant benefit to hiring a virtual workforce. Since remote employees work from home, employers can cut back on several expenses that would have been unavoidable. For example, less ‘in-house’ employees mean that real estate costs can be reduced, whilst freelance workers tend to provide their own equipment, slashing yet another expense for the business. In addition, lawsuits are less likely since there is far less room for discrimination when you hire unseen. It helps to ensure that individuals are hired for their experience and talent, rather than what they look or sound like.

It is always a good idea is to find somebody who had gained experience in an IT position in a company and hiring a remote worker for this kind of work will typically cost you significantly less.

#3. Reduce Your Company’s Carbon Footprint:
With environmental concerns growing, many companies are doing everything that they can to ensure greener processes and keep their carbon footprint as low as possible. Hiring a virtual workforce can help you do just that. For example, hiring little to no in-house employees means that you’ll use less electricity, gas, and water on a monthly basis, which is great for both the environment and your business bank account.

But, that’s not all – collectively, the carbon emissions from employees commuting to and from work on the roads each day is huge. Hiring employees who work from home means your brand is making a massive contribution to reducing road pollution.

The Cons:

#1. Lack of Communication:
Despite all its benefits, one of the biggest concerns that many employers have about hiring a virtual workforce is a lack of communication. When you’re not there with your employees in person, can you trust them to do their jobs? How do you know that they’ve understood your requirements?

There’s no denying that communication can be difficult within a virtual team – particularly if you’re relying on email and there’s no way of picking up on non-verbal cues, such as body language and facial expressions. To combat this issue, make sure that you’re regularly communicating with your team using video conferencing and other useful virtual workforce tools.

#2. Social Isolation:
Although a massive number of employees would prefer to work from home, remote positions can quickly lead to social isolation. Working as part of a virtual team can soon begin to feel very lonely; there’s a reason why this kind of work is often favored by introverts.

But, it doesn’t have to be this way. You can improve morale and teamwork amongst your virtual employees by encouraging them to communicate with one another and even strike up friendships. Although many virtual teams are made up of people located all over the world, the internet has made it possible for anybody to get to know each other.

For example, you could set up a private Facebook group solely for ‘work chat’ within your team – they can use it to ask questions about the job or talk about totally unrelated topics, just as they would on their lunch break in an office environment. As a result, your remote workers will get more social support from their co-workers, leading to better collaboration between team members.

Although there are some disadvantages to hiring a virtual workforce, many will agree that they are outweighed by the perks.

About the Author:
With all the buzz going on right now about remote working careers, Elena is a firm believer that working remotely is more productive. She has been managing a team of remote workers for the past 2 years and is eager to see what the future holds for the freelance industry.