Weighing up remote working
Over the last few years there has been tremendous growth in remote work opportunities. By 2018, close to two thirds of people were working from home at least one day a week and the amount of time and number of people continues to increase.
The reason behind this trend is likely that the practice of working from home has a number of substantial benefits for both employees and companies. With advancements in communication technology there is almost no reason why, with a strong wifi signal, a majority of workers can’t do their jobs from just about anywhere. And work from home statistics show that there are good reasons why workers should be doing at least some of their work from home.
Just getting rid of a worker’s daily commute equates to substantial savings in gas, train costs, or parking. However, there are other costs that remote workers can more easily avoid as well, such as dry cleaning costs, or avoiding those sometimes costly lunches with co-workers. On average, those who work from home are said to save around $4,000 per year.
For companies, the financial benefits are enormous. Most substantially they can avoid the real estate costs associated with housing more employees. But in concert with these savings are avoiding costs for things like utilities, housekeeping, office supplies, and dedicated tech like phones and computers. Aetna Insurance claims savings of over $70m a year due to a workforce that is almost 50% remote and American Express points to remote work saving them $15m annually in real estate costs alone.
The morale and emotional balance in those that work remotely is said to be generally increased. Most people who work remotely say they would never want to return to a traditional office and they find that the practice gives them an ability to achieve work life balance while lowering their stress level.
As far as the health of organizations, companies that employ remote workers demonstrate improved retention, a surge in productivity and an improved ability to retain legacy workers so they can more easily train the next generation. In addition, illness and sick days are less prevalent because germs spread less rapidly in companies that have fewer on site workers.
- A better hiring pool: When location is no longer a constraint it is possible to cast a wider net for the most capable people.
- Environmental benefits: Remote work makes better environmental sense for corporations, cutting down the carbon footprint dramatically. Because companies no longer have to house workers they expend much less energy. But the largest environmental impact has to do with getting rid of commuting. Telecommuters in the US save the planet from 3.6 million tons of greenhouse gasses annually.
- Allows for growth without expenditure: Small and medium enterprises often feel pangs when they achieve growth when it comes to finding ways to house additional necessary employees. When hiring remote workers they can avoid this issue completely.
What are some concerns employers and employees may have?
The legal (and tax) concerns of hiring remote employees have to be clarified before companies can move forward with a large shift toward remote workers.
20% of people who work from home state that their largest issue is loneliness. This can be alleviated with careful consideration, making sure that breaks are taken with friends, and that a social schedule is created for employees.
While the idea is to lower stress in employees, for some, remote work can cause an increase. Without the ability to check in on coworkers warning signs related to burn out can go unnoticed. It’s important for companies and employees to check in to make sure they aren’t working too hard or feeling undue stress.
In general, however, remote working has been a major boon for business. It has allowed workers more flexibility and given companies the ability to save money while getting the best employees for their projects. If your company hasn’t begun to think about how best to employ a remote workforce, it might be time to start to consider it.