Should companies move to remote workers?
And the polemic is served... The numbers say they should but companies are governed by people and people tend to be governed by fear. Maybe they should take another look at the data. It's like being scared of a low risk surgery that can improve your life tremendously. You just need to get over it!
This winter I got stuck working from home two times due to winter blizzards and had to work a couple more days remote because of sickness. I have to admit that I produce more in up to a third of the time while I'm at home. Being home is boring for me so work becomes my main distraction to the point where I even forget to eat. I'm also more comfortable to make calls, start earlier and don't worry about disconnecting soon to rush home... On the other hand, I love going to the office. It forces me to "play adult", dress up, put on my makeup, talk to the team face to face, socialize and see the outside world. So, selfishly, I prefer to go to the office at least a few days because it is more fun for me. But, production wise, my company gets more of me when I work from home.
Now, this varies with each person and their circumstances. Some can't find peace at home due to kids and pets running around or because they feel tempted to turn on the TV and start cleaning in between emails. Others don't even know how to connect their work computer to their home's WiFi. Not every worker is the same but, data says that in most cases, remote workers or partially remote workers are a better option and the key to the future. Let's go over facts and benefits for employees and employers.
THE FACTS (from Global Workplace Analytics, Forbes and FlexJobs):
2 out of 3 people want to work from home and 36% would choose it over a pay raise. (Here's something companies who can't give a raise can offer their employees to keep them).50% of the US workforce holds a job compatible with at least partial teleworking and 80 to 90% of the workforce would like to work remote at least part time.
60% of millennials think are more productive at home versus in an office. 82% of respondents say they would be more loyal to their employers if they had flexible work options. This last piece is important to the company since losing a valued employee can cost an employer $10,000 to $30,000.95% of employers say telework has a high impact on employee retention.It reduces unscheduled absences which cost employers $1,800/employee/year; that adds up to $300 billion/year for U.S. companies. They also return to work more quickly following surgery or medical issues.
Best Buy, British Telecom, Dow Chemical, and many others show that teleworkers are 35-40% more productive. American Express workers produced 43% more than their office based counterparts.Alpine Access Remote Agents closed 30% more sales than traditional agents the year before. Customer complaints decreased by 90%. And turnover decreased by 88%.Nearly six out of ten employers identify cost savings in rental and property expenses as a significant benefit to telecommuting. Example: IBM slashed real estate costs by $50 million.
Expands talent pool. You can access talent that is anywhere.Managers don't trust employees and this is an issue. 75% of managers say they trust their employee, but a third say they’d like to be able to see them, "just to be sure", which is a contradiction in itself.
Not everyone is technology-friendly and for those who aren't, working remote may be more of a challenge.90% of those charged with security in large organizations feel that home-based workers are not a security concern. In fact, they are more concerned with the occasional work that is taken out of the office by traditional employees who lack the training, tools, and technologies that teleworkers receive.
The inability to monitor employee overtime is also an issue. And this could worry companies with a high amount of hourly employees since the Department of Labor has been on the hunt for companies that are not following overtime regulations.
Save money in rent, utilities, certain insurances and office supplies. The guys at Global Workplace Analytics say that businesses could save $11,000 per person per year if they decided to let half of their employees who could work from home start to work remotely. That's about $550,000 for a small company of 100 people and over $1 million for one with 200 employees. Imagine a company with thousands. A friend of mine told me the other day that her company which has less than 500 employees, calculated that if they start asking their employees to work from home 2-3 days a week, they will be saving over $5 million per year because it would allow them to move to smaller offices (shared desks and less meeting rooms), save on electricity, ink, paper, other office supplies, snacks for employees...
Higher productivity. Although not all employees work better from home. Numbers indicate that the vast majority are more productive (35-40%). If you can't trust your employee to work from their house, maybe you shouldn't trust them to work for your company anyways.
Increase sales. Given the data shown on the previous section and other information provided by Global Workplace Analytics, sales people outperform their peers when working from home. I would say that based on my experience, the capacity to go to more appointments (you don't have to show face at the office and go to one place and then back) and make calls and search for prospects without interruptions is probably among the main reasons.
Reduce attrition. Most employees are happier if they get to work from home due to the fact that they have a better work-life balance so they are less likely to leave. This is particularly relevant when it comes to the newer generation like millennials who tend to switch roles more often.
Bigger talent pool and more attractive offers. If your employees work from anywhere, you can access the best talent regardless of the fact that they are within your area or not. And, because you're saving money by not having them in the office, you can fight competitors by adding some extra cash to the offer if it's a hard one to fill. Once more, this is a great plus when attracting younger generations who appreciate flexibility and working from home more than boomers.
More territory covered means more money in your pocket. This might be particularly important in sales-dependent businesses. When you have remote workers in different locations of the country, you are more likely to reach and cover a bigger piece of the market at a lower cost. Why? Because now, instead of needing a formal meeting and having to think twice about buying a ticket for your salesperson to go to Houston, your local sales person from there can cover that territory. This person can attend all the events in the area and get more chances of face to face meetings without flights being scheduled.
If you want to calculate how much your company would save with remote workers go to the Employer Workplace Savings Calculator Lite
Transportation savings. According to an article from the Huffington Post, says the average employee would save $2,000 to $7,000 per year in transportation costs. Not to mention that most people who work in metropolitan areas spend at least 2 hours a day commuting. That means that you win 10 hours of time for yourself every week.
Lunch savings and more control over what you eat. If you work from home, you're most likely to attack your fridge instead of the local restaurant. This also means, less fast food and more homemade or less excuses to eat what you shouldn't. You are also more likely to take a shorter break to eat or eat at your desk instead of leaving with your coworkers. This means you could potentially save another 5 hours for personal time every week.
Clothes spending. If you work from home, you need less formal outfits for the office which translates into more money in your pocket.
Work-life balance. You need to be home because of an elderly or a disabled family member? In theses cases you don't need to have a nurse all day and are able to take care of that parent or grandfather who would be better under your care. You can take your kids to school and pick them up or go to a doctor's appointment without having to take time off. The time you save can be put towards your personal life, socializing, exercise, a second business...
I won't tell your company what to do but I'll say this: numbers talk and math is an exact science ;)
POST ADDITION - Remote working also levels the plainfield for those with disabilities. Not everyone can commute or interact easily with others. Remote work allows your company to be more diverse and inclusive.
Employer Branding and Recruitment Marketing expert at Stand Out Consulting.