working remotely represented by a person smiling and waving at a laptop screen while working from their living room

Working Remotely: Challenges and Opportunities

Featured image by Best smile studio

Now that the pandemic seems to be over, many employers are asking their staff members to come back to the office. But what is best for your business? Should you set up a hybrid workspace? Should you instead ask all workers to come back to the office full time? Or should you allow everyone to continue working remotely?

Let’s find out what the experts are saying.


Working Remotely Leads to Wasted Time

According to an ExpressVPN survey, remote workers admit to wasting time during work hours. They even say they use company devices to engage in activities completely unrelated to their work.

For example, some acknowledge that they shop online, gamble, and even watch porn while “working” remotely. Some say they spend several hours each week looking for another job. In fact, some employees even admit to wasting as much as two-thirds of the time when they should be working. Men appear to be somewhat worse offenders than women, but not by much.

These activities can obviously harm the employee. But they also hurt the company by robbing the business of productive time and work-related results. Moreover, when employees surf the web instead of working, they also potentially expose company devices to malware and viruses.

Some Employees Are Better Suited to Remote Work

In July 2019, Prithwiraj Choudhury, a professor at Harvard Business School, published the results of a study of flexible work arrangements at the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

To give some background, in 2012 the USPTO instituted a policy that eventually gave examiners full autonomy to work from wherever they chose. This meant that they could choose to work from the office. They could work from home near the office. Or, at the level of full autonomy, they could move to less-expensive areas or live closer to family and friends. They could even travel while working remotely.

What researchers found was that both the employees and the Patent Office benefited from this arrangement.

For example, productivity actually increased with each level of autonomy the USPTO gave examiners. In fact, at the level of full autonomy, Harvard researchers estimated that the US economy would gain an additional $1.3 billion in value every year, based on the average value of the patents the examiners investigated

Moreover, the USPTO itself gained $132 million in fee revenue as workers gained greater autonomy about where they could work. The agency also benefited from lower office costs to the tune of $38.2 million.

Researchers caution, however, that this study included only a specific group of workers—patent examiners. They speculate that this group might have possessed an “underlying characteristic” that made them more suited to working remotely. Also, this study could have been affected by the fact that this group eventually had full autonomy to work in the office, work from their homes, or work from anywhere.

Many Employees Prefer Working Remotely

These days, roughly two-thirds of employers are now insisting that workers return to the office full time. This push could lead to lower employee satisfaction and more unionization, however, according to an article published by Entrepreneur in February 2023.

The article’s author asserts that working remotely is probably here to stay. He claims that an authoritarian approach to business leadership is not suited for a knowledge-based economy. To quote from the article: “The pandemic has accelerated the trend toward remote work, and workers are now resisting the idea of returning to the office.”


Basically, your decision about whether or not to allow your employees to continue working remotely should be based on the nature of your company, the industry it is in, and the product or service your company provides. Also, take into account the type of work you expect from your employees. Does their work require a great deal of in-person interaction with other employees and customers? Or is their work based on modern technology and better suited to working remotely?

Finally, be honest with yourself about the level of trust you have with your employees. Do you trust them, and do they trust you and value their relationship with your company? If the trust level is high, remote work could be a great fit for your company.


About the Author

Carrol Strain is a Top Rated Plus copywriter on Upwork. She is also editor and on-call writer for the Business Opportunities blog.