Many employers perceive remote work as nothing more than a necessary evil.
They mostly worry about not being able to monitor and manage employees in person. Others are still on the fence, weighing all the pros and cons at play. We would argue skepticism and reluctance are misplaced, as telecommuting can pay serious long-term dividends.
Even before the coronavirus pandemic (this article was originally published in April 2020), this emerging work style was on a trajectory of steady rise. In the US, 62% of employees aged between 22 and 65 report they occasionally work remotely. The number of those working exclusively from home is increasing as well.
These patterns are underpinned by strong reasons and sound economic logic. We’re going to highlight what are the main benefits one can reap by embracing remote work in 2020 and beyond.
Telecommuting as a Saving Grace
Workplace flexibility and distributed workforces are hot topics in the pandemic-stricken business world.
Alas, many organizations are scrambling to adjust to the new realities, such as social distancing and mandatory restrictions. Agile companies are facing an even steeper uphill battle.
They heavily rely on face-to-face communication and collaboration to deliver projects on time and budget. Yet, the truth is even they can tame the disruption and come out of the crisis stronger.
A growing body of evidence and expertise debunks many myths surrounding telecommuting. For instance, communication doesn’t suffer as a result of remote setups like some suspect.
Telecommuting software and cloud-based project management tools are not difficult to find. There’s no shortage of amazing, cost-effective solutions to bridge the gaps that emerge in the absence of collocation.
This is just one illustration of how alleged drawbacks of remote work don’t hold water in practice. Having cleared the air, let’s now examine the major benefits associated with remote settings.
Improved Productivity and Performance
Some experts argue the amount of slacking off is reduced because the emphasis is on visible output.
In other words, it doesn’t matter how much time you spent “working”, but what you have to show for it. An additional benefit is you don’t have to worry about many distractions that plague office environments.
Studies from Harvard Business School and Stanford confirm these claims. They reveal remote workers, due to exerting more autonomy and self-reliance, are at least 4.4% more productive than their office counterparts. The latter can get away with slacking off and underperforming for way longer.
Likewise, location independence turns out to yield better workflow performance, which involves fewer quality defects. People are able to work even in a wake of extreme weather, traffic jams, family emergencies, and various unforeseen events.
For companies around the globe, this is great news in terms of ensuring continuity of operations.
And it just goes to show that in this day and age, we don’t have to work harder, just smarter. And we’re able to do that when given an option of where and how to work.
Talent Acquisition and Retention
A combination of heightened productivity and performance creates a big snowball effect.
It manifests in the form of higher engagement and loyalty to the company, which leads to lower absenteeism and work dissatisfaction. Along similar lines, business owners who permit remote arrangements are able to attract and retain workers more effectively, including top talent.
Speaking of which, modern-day job-seekers keep their eyes peeled for remote work options when scouring the job market. Global Workplace Analytics study shows that 36% of them would prefer this perk over a pay raise.
What is more, 37% of tech workers would even accept a 10% pay cut in return for a telecommuting-based position.
For employers, the benefit is clear— they can spend less time and money on recruiting, relocating, onboarding, and training processes. Not only that but they may focus on hiring the best of the best irrespective of barriers of space and time.
Saving Time, Money, and the Environment
This brings us to the last key point—telecommuting saves a tremendous amount of resources.
In-office workers demand floor space, technical equipment, office supplies storage, and various facilities. This all incurs unnecessary costs, consumes a ton of electricity and water, and inflates your overheads.
Conversely, hiring virtual staff trims most of these costs down to zero. The savings are greater in the case of full-time telecommuting when compared to part-time telecommuting.
As for employees, the benefits abound too. For example, they can finally avoid the time and energy-sucking ordeal of commuting. There’s way more time to dedicate to work, family, and pastime, the end result being a finer work-life balance.
This is especially evident in cases of employees who previously had to cope with the extreme commute (90 minutes or longer). For them, telecommuting is a real game-changer.
They can customize the schedule and fit in physical activity in their routines, which boost health and well-being. And companies should know by now that a happier and healthier workforce equals a more productive one too.
Finally, those who care about eco-friendliness cherish telecommuting as a way to mitigate dire effects office buildings and commuting have on the natural environment. When we say dire effects we mean the tremendous amount of greenhouse gas emissions that enter the atmosphere.
Considering the mounting environmental awareness and a green movement surge, more employers should pursue this benefit of remote work.
Remote Work Revolution is Underway
Telecommuting is no fad— it’s here to stay and reshape the way we do business.
Its adoption has nothing to do with trying to appear trendy. There’s a set of real benefits that both employees and employers enjoy.