Remote Work Arrangements

I’m sure many of you have taken note of the recent actions by many companies that rescind the privilege of remote work arrangements by the employees, with the upshot being that those employees will now have to come in the office to work.

The order to abandon kitchen tables and home offices for an actual office building has produced howls from people at those companies who work from home, and led to some poaching efforts in their respective competitive segments.

Meanwhile, many other companies, particularly those owned and/or managed by younger executives, are increasing the options for their employees to work remotely. And of course, the technology-related firms are all in on remote workers and flexible work rules in general.

There are a lot of remote workers in the tech industry, whether you’re in Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, Boston, New York, Northern Virginia or Austin. Other industries and other places in the country, not so much.

Not only do most businesses NOT have free cafeterias, foosball tables, rock-climbing, sleep pods, free energy drinks, onsite fitness centers and the like for their employees, as many tech giants do, they also don’t offer telecommuting as an option, and, the whole idea is not even open to discussion.Remote Work Arrangements - Sareen and Associates AccountingThere are some old-school businesses that operate on the assumption that if they can’t see their employees working, then they’re probably not working. Or, at least not working as hard as they would be if they were in the office.

Now, obviously, working remotely is not an option if you’re a roofer or your job is to make pizzas. But there are a great many jobs in other industries that could easily be done from a home office, whether that’s on a daily basis or only 2-3 days per week. There are certainly more than enough ways to be connected to your work colleagues these days, and more than enough ways to quickly exchange work documents, videos, slide shows, etc.

We don’t need to belabor the obvious advantages; the elimination of a long commute and the stress and cost that goes with it, flexible scheduling for those employees like parents of small children that need it, a more relaxed work environment, small savings like no dry cleaning costs, etc. And if you work at home, you can bring your dog to work every day.

But, still, there’s that point of view that people work harder if they’re in the office and they’re being monitored, along with their work – if only occasionally. Even if almost every study suggests otherwise.

Will the employers who have that point of view change their minds anytime soon? Doubtful. In fact, probably never, at least not until they start losing employees to other companies that allow some telecommuting, and that may never happen.

I know we have quite a few clients that work from home part of the week, or allow an employee to do so, but we have small businesses as clients, so office space tends to be more scarce, and flexibility from the owner’s and the employee’s perspective tends to be very important.

There is no doubt that it will be interesting to see how remote work arrangements pan out nationwide going forward, whether it will reach some low level of adoption and settle in at that percentage, or just keep slowly growing over the next decades.

From the perspective of Sareen and Associates, we’re all for whatever allows our small, nimble clients to compete effectively with the big boys.

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