The Pros & Cons of Remote Work

  • Savannah Higgins
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As many accounting and finance professionals have transitioned into fully (or partially) remote work during the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we continue to get questions from our candidates about what the future of work might look like.  Candidates want to understand the vision of prospective employers. Will this type of flexible work arrangement remain permanent?  Will they be expected to return to the office as COVID restrictions continue to be lifted?

All in all, for many, it’s still too soon to say.  Some local Tampa Bay employers (both large and small) have drawn a line in the sand and communicated their commitment to a future state, while others are adopting a “wait and see” mentality.  It is fair to say that the general consensus is that most companies do expect to return back to the office eventually, either fully or partially (the latter with some work from home potential).

With that said, there are companies who have already made the decision to offer fully remote schedules for the foreseeable future. Interestingly enough, this has opened up opportunities with companies OUTSIDE of the Tampa Bay market who are now recruiting for fully remote positions, although their corporate offices are located elsewhere.  This has created a whole new level of competition in the race for great talent, which ultimately impacts the availability of candidates here in Tampa Bay.

The question really comes down to…what is the right path for a candidate as they look towards growing their career? In all honesty, it’s an individual decision for each candidate. Whether remote or in office, there are pros and cons for either option, so navigating what is MOST important to your career will be important.  Here’s a few thoughts, based upon what we’ve seen and heard.

Perceived Pros of Remote Work:

  • Less time and money spent commuting to an office, which may mean more hours to dedicate to work
  • Flexibility to be at home when things arise (e.g., deliveries, home care, caring for a family member, etc.)
  • For some, less pressure to socialize, allowing more time to truly focus on the tasks at hand
  • For some, increased job satisfaction leading to higher productivity
  • For candidates, it may open career opportunities with employers located outside Tampa Bay or who may have been “too far of a commute,” although local; For companies, it allows them access to talent outside their typical market geography
  • Potential savings in rent and facilities due to the ability to downsize or eliminate office space

Perceived Cons of Remote Work:

  • For some, we find we actually end up working more hours due to being viewed as “being on call” when something arises (e.g., lack of disconnect)
  • Less collaboration and ability to get things done efficiently if your work is dependent on others
  • Difficulties onboarding new employees and providing adequate training/support without the ability to shadow one-on-one
  • For some, the social isolation and feeling of “being on an island” can impact mental health and motivation
  • Lack of day-to-day connection can impact retention and mentoring as employees don’t feel like they are a part of the team
  • Inability to be seen and heard by leadership could impact long-term career growth potential
  • When the decision is made to return to the office, employers may try to replace remote workers with someone local or otherwise willing to be on site
  • For some, distractions at home can impact productivity; Frankly, some people don’t function as well at home

Probably one of the biggest concerns raised is whether a long-term remote work strategy will impact career development. If you’re looking for fast growth and promotion, it can be harder to “get in front of” the right people who might ultimately be champions for you in your career.  Networking and building rapport with leadership can be essential for this, as often “just doing the work” might not automatically be enough.

Our recommendation?  You should give thought to what’s most important to you, and then pick the top factors you see as being most critical in your job satisfaction. This will truly help in narrowing your ideal fit. If you are searching for a company that will provide high growth (promotions), one who is super collaborative, or if being involved in the culture/mission is important, then the in-office time might be important.  Whereas if your highest priority is the flexibility to be at home and if you thrive on more independent work, then perhaps a remote opportunity might be a better fit for you.

All in all, no company OR candidate search is exactly alike, and it ultimately comes down to trying to find what works for you. Don’t hesitate to reach out to mentors, business associates or a trusted recruiter to get additional perspective. The face of work as we know it is changing and wrapping your head around the right choice for you is worth the time and effort!