This article is Part 2 in our series on working from home, and explains some pros and cons of its impact on collaboration.
To work from home, or not to work from home: that is the question many employers are contemplating in the current world we live in. While remote work may have already been an option for some businesses, many were left with no other option when faced with the global pandemic and had to make the shift to working from home. Now that many companies have faced this new experience of remote work, employers are left with the choice of continuing to allow employees to work from home or requiring that they come into the workplace. In this article we explain the pros and cons of collaboration when working from home.
Many businesses require a great deal of collaboration and teamwork on a daily basis. Collaboration is the process of two or more people working together to complete a task or achieve a goal. Collaboration can be anything from working on a project together, to board meetings, working with clients, completing tasks, business planning, or developing strategies. When working from home, employees and employers will need to rely on video calls, e-mail, and phone calls (remote communications) for any sort of collaborative activities.
An advantage to consider when allowing remote collaboration, is the possibility to have a distributed workforce. When employees can work with the team from any place, this means that a business can have employees that live anywhere in the world. This diversifies the perspectives within the company and also opens up a larger talent pool to hire from. When you are able to look for employees from anywhere in the world, you can hire the best and the brightest in the field. This can be especially beneficial for specialized roles and skills.
Another upside to consider with remote collaboration is it opens the door to collaborating with people in other languages. Through the use of free applications such as Apple’s Translate App or Google Translate, written communication can be instantaneously translated to over 100 languages.
Note: Based on our experiences and research these are the pros for collaboration when working from home. We welcome any feedback you may have if your business has experienced positive outcomes on collaboration when working from home.
One of the downsides on collaboration when working from home is the decreased capability to have brainstorming or “think tank” sessions. There isn’t anything quite like a whiteboard that can be used to jot down ideas and is visually present for everyone in the meeting to see. While there are virtual solutions that allow notes to be taken and viewed by everyone, it’s not the same as having a tangible board in front of you that you can see and touch. There is also the added factor of having to train employees in how to use the different virtual tools for meetings and sharing notes or other visuals such as images.
Another potential disadvantage to consider is the time needed to be able to share information and documents. This may largely depend on the knowledge employees have of the technology they are using. Where employees could once walk over to a co-worker’s office, show their co-worker what they are working on, and explain the details, they will now have to send it to the co-worker virtually through e-mail or other digital forms, wait for the item to be received and seen, then correspond back and forth depending on the communication method chosen. This can add to the time spent on collaborating on a project or task, which can decrease productivity. This also depends on internet and technology, which is not always the most dependable, especially when in a time-sensitive situation where a deadline needs to be met.
The final con to discuss is the lack of unplanned collaborations. While this may sound like a pro for some as it involves less distractions, consider that some of the best innovations, creativity, and ideas come from unplanned interactions between co-workers. These interactions are often held in-person during breaks such as lunch, before or after meetings, and in passing in the hallway or other common spaces.
Remote collaboration can have both pros and cons for a business. While it opens up the opportunity for employees from all over the world with numerous languages to collaborate, it can also impact the capability to have successful brainstorming sessions, increase the time required to collaborate depending on knowledge of the employees with technology, and can decrease the innovation, creativity and ideas that arise from those unplanned interactions in person. When deciding if working from home is for your company, take into consideration the above advantages and disadvantages of collaboration.
Check out Part 3 in this series which explains the pros and cons of the workspace when working from home.