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5 Reasons Employers Are Turning Against Remote Work

5 Reasons Employers Are Turning Against Remote Work

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Elon Musk famously wrote an email to Tesla employees in 2022, telling them to return to the office in person again or resign. Moreover, he was recorded in an X (formerly Twitter) meeting shortly after his takeover, telling HR employees to show up at the office full-time or “resignation accepted.”

2020’s pandemic response changed the face of working locations for millions, heralding a new age of digital nomadism and hybrid job types. However, is the remote working bubble about to burst for some of us? Due to a variety of reasons, companies are over the remote working renaissance.

1. Remote Workers Are Less Productive

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While remote workers may boast about having an extra hour in bed each morning, a working paper submitted to the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) showed that only 40% of the average 72 minutes of commuting time saved daily goes into work. Journalist Kevin Drum writes in his blog, “Companies that put up with it for a long time are finally getting sick and tired of remote work — which simply isn’t as productive as office work, no matter what remote workers say.” He cites Google, Lyft, and Facebook’s reversal of remote working initiatives to suggest where most companies are headed.

2. Remote Work Is Detrimental to New Hires

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An academic study looked at the relationship between coworkers and proximity in 2023, gauging the effects of remote working. The economists found that engineers in the same vicinity as their teammates received 22% more feedback than those separated from team members. Women suffered from this discrepancy more due to their higher capacity for giving and receiving more mentoring than their male counterparts. The saying “out of sight, out of mind” may ring true about remote work’s negative effect on workers.

3. Collective Absence Destroys Productivity

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A March 2023 Wall Street Journal article cites a human resources software company CEO who was shocked by the drop in subscriber numbers when all his staff worked from home. When Bambee founder and chief executive Allan Jones picked his phone up on work-from-home day to check subscriber numbers, he saw a 30% drop from their usual rate. Such a wake-up call makes it easy for bosses like Jones to act. The struggle now is to encourage enough key staff members that working from the office will benefit them long term. According to Fortune, 60% of CEOs polled said that if their company needed to make job cuts, they would target remote workers first.

4. Remote Workers May Struggle Mentally

Remote Worker Struggles Mentally

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While some people may thrive outside the office, others lose focus and productivity. Surprisingly, some of those workers who value their flexible autonomy also report having more mental health issues affecting their performance than their office-based contemporaries. Last year, Buffer’s State of Remote Work Report, conducted with websites Nomad List and OK Remote, showed that 23% of remote workers were lonely. The lack of social interaction may contribute to the remote working cohort’s issues, whereas previous generations likely worked in a typical shared workspace. 

5. Remote Work Neglects Data Protection

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IT support company Ramsac reports that “the rise in remote working since the COVID-19 pandemic has given way to a subsequent increase in cybersecurity attacks.” This makes sense, considering how being away from the office reduces the number of endpoints, networks, and software requirements. Naturally, with company networks spread across large geographical areas, security monitoring is harder for most businesses. For example, workers who make their local coffee shop their office are putting themselves and their companies at risk by using public Wi-Fi.

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