What Are the Pros and Cons of Managing a Remote Team?

Over the past few months, businesses both in the Arab world and across the world have to come to a new reality: working from home not from the office. This new reality has brought to light new ideas and questions such as the pros and cons managing a remote team.

However, the transition has not been easy for many. And as governments announce the need to co-exist with the coronavirus, businesses are beginning to realize that working remotely is turning into a long-term option.

From being more productive to struggling with the differences between office-life and home-life, employers and employees alike should be aware of both the key benefits and the downsides of working from home, and be ready to overcome the latter.

So, what are the pros and cons of managing a remote team?

In this article, we will handle the advantages and disadvantages managers struggle with when working remotely with a team.

First: The Pros of Working from Home 

Let’s begin with the positive aspects of working remotely, or in the case of 2020, working from home.

Pro: Less Stress for Employees

Both employees and managers find working from the office to be stressful at times.

“The energy and pace of being in a news room can’t be mimicked at home, and there are pros and cons to that,” says Managing Director at Arab Finance Nadine Abou El Atta.

“It’s often difficult to sit down and really focus on planning a campaign or analyzing something with so much buzz going around in the office. Working from home really helps in focusing on such tasks,” she adds.

Pro: Lower Company Costs

Managing a remote team allows companies to save up on desk and rental space as well as company cars and other overhead expenses. Moreover, costs for social and medical insurance are sometimes excluded for work-from-home employees, depending on the company and country it operates in. 

While some companies may have to purchase or rent laptops for full-time workers, this may be offset by the lower electricity and water bills, since the employees aren’t working from the office.

A report by Fundera said that US employers who offered “part-time telecommuting [or remote] flexibility collectively save $44 billion each year.” That’s a huge sum!

Pro: Less Commuting = More Energy

Whether managers or employees, the daily commute to the office is one of the top reasons people who work struggle. 

So working remotely, and subsequently managing a remote team, enjoys the advantage of not having to drive or take public transport to the office every day. It saves time, energy, and money, for both employees and the business. Even more so for businesses who offer transportation allowance or buses for their employees.

Pro: Fewer Sick Days

Another advantage of managing remote teams is that companies that allow employees and teams to work from home see less absenteeism as employees tend to take fewer sick days. The reason for that is working for home and not from a shared work space reduces the possibility of catching colds.

woman thinking while working remotely

Second: The Cons of Working from Home 

Despite the advantages, not coming to the office has its downsides.

Con: Declining Productivity

Working from home or working remotely for an extended period of time tends to make employees less productive, especially as they begin to feel lonely and isolated. 

Con: Harder to Do Business Deals

One challenge to working remotely and managing remote teams is the hardship in securing business deals.

“Acquiring new business is more challenging,” says NASCO Emirates’ General Manager for Abu Dhabi Karim Barbara. He explains that creating a relationship from scratch over the phone in various business fields is quite difficult. NASCO Emirates operates in the insurance sector, so face-to-face meetings and having to meet with clients are very important.

Con: Weaker Accountability

When it comes to working from home, one issue arises and that is accountability. Not all employees work equally and being able to monitor them from a distance isn’t easy.

Some managers have noted that procrastinators pose a problem when working from home because you can’t just go over to them or knock on their door to see why the work isn’t done.

One of the downsides when it comes to freelancers is having liars or procrastinators, says Noha Abdel Tawab, Digital Marketing Lead at CEQUENS, stressing that when working with freelancers. “you always have to have a plan B”

Con: Power Cuts and Slow Connections

An issue that presents itself in some countries and that managers cannot monitor and stand defenseless against is power cuts. If a remote employee reports a power cut, it becomes hard for the manager to confirm this and it affects the work flow.

Naturally, the length of the power cut varies and the control becomes limited. The same applies to weak internet connections. Moreover, as more people work from home, the load on internet service providers increases, slowing down many employees’ connections.

That said, Nehme says that one of the first things a company or employer should is to provide their employees with alternate internet resources like USBs and broadband options.

Con: Harder to train employees

“Training a remote team can sometimes be tricky,” says Aya Ibrahim, a remote team leader for a Saudi business, who has been working with Al7arefa for a year. However, she says that with the right communication tools, the training process can be done as professionally as training an on-ground team.

Con: Weaker security

One of the disadvantages of managing a remote team is being at the mercy of employees’ security systems.

“There is a security issue over our data,” says NASCO Emirates’ GM Karim Barbara, noting that this could include the physical theft of the laptop from an employee’s home or a cyberattack.

Con: Communication issues

CEQUENS’ Abdel Tawab notes that some freelancers don’t get back to the person who hired them or take too long to respond, which hurts the overall project and workflow.

“Some freelancers ignore you,” she says, noting that this often happens when they want to quit a project. 

It’s common for freelancers to discontinue work but there is a right way to do it and wrong way to do it. Ignoring their contact or the person they deliver work is definitely on the wrong side.

working remotely while drinking coffee

Not All about Pros and Cons of Remote Work

For some, it’s not about advantages and disadvantages of managing remote teams.

“I don’t think pros and cons is the way to look at it. For me, efficiency and effectiveness of the process is the only way to evaluate this matter,” Arab Finance’s Nadine Abou El Atta, indicating that the “main factor” is being able to ensure that operations continue smoothly.

“A successful online system allows us, as a news portal, to work with many reporters and experts who are overseas or even hire great calibers who need to be in the field all the time. It’s all about the system and how it translates to the quality of our output,” she says.

Abou El Atta says that for her, it’s about having a “mix” of remote work and office-work. She likes being able “to zone out completely for a few hours to finish a task when needed as well as being part of the beehive the rest of the week.”

Meanwhile, CEQUENS’ Digital Marketing Lead Noha AbdelTawab describes the employer-freelancer relationship as a “give-and-take relationship.” 

She also notes that one of the benefits of working with freelancers, in her opinion, is that lack of socializing, which means less time is wasted and there is less hassle for getting the work done. That said, Abdel Tawab is “very picky” when it comes to hiring and working with freelancers.

Abdel Tawab also notes that for her the pros of working with freelancers outweigh the cons.

In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of managing a remote team? Share your experience with us in the comments below.

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Nada Sobhi
Freelance B2B SaaS Copywriter | Hire Me

Freelance B2B SaaS Copywriter and Blogger focused on Digital Marketing, Business, Green Technology, and HR; Digital Marketer; Translator. When she’s not working, you can find Nada buried in a book or 3!

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