By Michael Parker
Today’s businesses struggle with the balance of finding and retaining the right talent with the burgeoning overhead costs that come with running a company in a prime market. This is especially true with small to medium-sized businesses. That’s why more and more companies are starting to recruit for, and implement, remote working to attract talent as a way to save on costs. However, there are still a number of naysayers who believe opening the door for remote workers leads to losing control over your business. I do not agree.
In fact, there is a shift in belief to the opposite – which I fully support – that encourages employees to work from anywhere in the world as a way to maximize productivity, inspire creative thinking, fuel innovation and provide an overall balanced approach to work and life priorities. The data below shows there are tremendous benefits to these flexible work policies, whether it’s built into company culture, or just as needed due to weather, childcare issues, or other personal matters. Here are five key benefits that companies can expect when adopting remote worker policies:
1.Increase in productivity.
A recent survey actually found that 80 percent of respondents reported being equally or even more productive while working remotely. Why? They save time by foregoing the commute, which can often mean starting work earlier and/or working later, which is especially helpful when under pressure to complete a task. The lack of commute from home to the office also enables individuals to save money on fuel costs, or address quick personal or family issues. Maintaining better work-life balances increase productivity in all aspects of their lives.
2. Maximize profits by decreasing overhead costs.
As the cost of office space increases exponentially across the country, embracing the remote workforce will mean huge dividends in terms of decreasing cost. Currently, the cost of rent per square feet in major cities like Boston ($52.29) and San Francisco ($66.71) are at all-time highs. For many companies, especially small businesses and startups, paying high rents places a heavy burden on their budgets, forcing them to make cuts to vital sectors of their business. Smart business owners know that a remote workforce should be a part of the business plan as a way to not only save on the physical rent cost, but to also save on utilities and other office resources. These add up over time and can make a significant impact on overhead.
3. More inclusive teams.
Leaders who understand that a greater diversity of employees strengthens their bottom line, and will often lead to better results. By offering a more flexible work environment, companies are able to attract a more talented and inclusive workforce by widening its search radius for capable candidates, even globally and across cultural boundaries. Whether it be new mothers or someone who needs to care for an elderly parent or the best candidate who simply does not live locally, fostering a flexible work environment ensures that a company’s workforce is more well-rounded inclusive and productive, rather than exclusive and strained.
4. Decreased office distractions = increased collaboration and creativity
According to a study last year by CareerBuilder, some of the top 10 office distractions are gossip, co-workers stopping by, noisy co-workers and sitting in a cubicle. Giving your employees the ability to work from anywhere immediately eliminates these distractions, leading to increased focus and productivity. Working remotely at home also allows for employees to really make their “office space” their own, helping them to feel more inspired and comfortable. As a result, working from home actually helps to heighten employees’ creativity and collaboration by allowing for more concentration and focus on specific tasks and more deliberate and effective collaboration with co-workers.
5. Happier employees.
Of all of the benefits that accompany adopting remote worker policies, perhaps the most important one is that letting employees work remotely makes them happier. A recent survey by Staples found telecommuting and flex-time played a crucial role in overall employee happiness. Offering employees flexibility instills trust and helps employees to feel respected and appreciated. And that drives better productivity.
Working remote from home is becoming increasingly common, just ask Amazon (one of the top U.S. businesses hiring consultants) and IBM (more than 40 percent of its workforce is remote). Although it still has a long way to go as a cultural adjustment, the productivity gains and overall happiness gained from added work-life balance is a clear benefit to all.
Today’s workforce is growing more mobile-enabled and more expectant of options to create a blended work-life environment. By encouraging this flexibility for remote work, you show your employees you trust them to use good judgment, be productive and still get the work done on-time. Your business also benefits from the reduced costs for office space and other overhead expenses, as well as the ability to recruit top talent from areas outside of your geographic location, something that can give a small business a leg-up over the competition. So whether you decide to allow remote workers on an ad-hoc basis or fully embrace it as a corporate policy, now is the time to stop fighting the shift in workforce behavior and start embracing it as a benefit.
Michael Parker is vice president of collaboration at LogMeIn’s join.me.