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Is a Fully Remote Work Model Harmful for Your Employees?

  • Remote work has become more popular as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with employees enjoying benefits such as avoiding a commute
  • Author specializing in employee engagement and workforce leadership cautions that fully remote work arrangements come with significant downsides as well
  • Lack of interpersonal connection can eliminate more spontaneous interactions, create less of a sense of belonging at a company

Summary by Dirk Langeveld

With the COVID-19 pandemic creating a major shift in how companies do work, including the emergence of new variants delaying plans to return to the office, many businesses are contemplating whether some workers should be allowed to work a fully remote schedule. Yet a recent article by Mark Crowley, an author focusing on employee engagement and workforce leadership, suggests that such arrangements might be detrimental to the people who have them.

Crowley, writing for Fast Company, says people who work remotely can realize benefits such as avoiding a commute, more flexibility, and more time for things like sleep and interacting with one’s family. However, he says such benefits can be outweighed by the disadvantages incurred from a dearth of interpersonal contact.

  • Crowley says fully remote workers avoid the more spontaneous interactions that come with in-person work, such as the ability to stop by a co-worker’s desk or have an impromptu gathering of team members
  • In-person interactions establish a social and psychological connection with others, which can help form a stronger connection with co-workers as well as the team and business
  • Permanent remote work arrangements could lead to lower morale, less of a sense of belonging, and personal detriments such as excessive eating or drinking
  • Surveys have shown that businesses and employees often favor hybrid work arrangements where remote work is preserved, but only for part of the week

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