There will always be two sides to every argument but it’s hard to ignore the workplace trend of remote working in organisations. With it comes research from academics, white papers and corporate reports. If you are considering implementing remote working in your organisation here is a summary of the Top Five Reasons why you should Go Remote.
- Increases Worker Productivity
There are many reports and academic studies on the benefits to productivity for employees that work from home. Common complaints of distractions by impromptu meetings, loud colleagues, time wasting water cooler gossip are eliminated from remote workers days making them far more productive. Other life stresses such as running errands that are only available during business hours are also reduced as the remote worker can slot this into their day and then get straight back to work rather than having to take a full day out to run a simple errand. Data collected from US based company SurePayroll in a nation wide survey who interviewed over 2060 professionals aged 18 and over highlighted some alarming statistics to productivity inhibitors. 61% agreed that loud colleagues are the biggest office distraction, 86% prefer to work alone to hit maximum productivity and 40% consider impromptu meetings from co-workers stopping by their workspace as a major distraction. In their inforgraphic highlighting their findings SurePayroll also illustrate that according to the State of Workplace Productivity Report which surveyed 2,009 full time employees 18 years and over 65% think a flexible and remote work schedule would increase their productivity. For those employers that do allow remote work schedules two thirds report an increase in productivity from their remote workers
According to Gallup 37% of US workers say that they have telecommuted, a staggering increase from the 9% back in 1995. It is very clear that remote working is on the rise but is it as simple as giving them a laptop and setting them free?
In a survey conducted recently by TINYpulse which reveals in a report titled “What Leaders Need to Know About Remote Workers”, a staggering 91% of respondents believed that they get more work done outside of the office. The report also found that there is a vast difference between an employee who has been remote for years versus the new hire who is just logging on for the first time away from the office. When compared to employees who have been at their remote job for less than a year, those who have been in their position from 3-5 years;
Are 11% happier
Feel 14% more valued
Rate their relationships with co-workers as 11% better
What they found is that a remote workers experience isn’t static. It also highlights the requirement for on-boarding new hires in remote working situation needing more specialist attention to ensure that happiness and productivity moves with the employees tenure. Leaders therefore play a huge role in managing their remote employees. One of the key conclusions is that remote work is dynamic. The state of engagement and interaction in the first year wont be the case forever. By leveraging the best practices outlined in the report leaders can find ways to make a remote workforce into an engaged, loyal and thriving part of their organisation.
- Broaden The Talent Pool
With the ridiculous housing prices in Australia’s Metropolitan Cities and the horrendous commuting time the desire to stay in the city is declining. With the migration out of the city and the surrounding suburbs to more Lifestyle Towns the loss of talent goes with it. Highly experienced and educated talent that want a better life for themselves and their families are taking all of their experience and leaving town. By having a remote work solution as part of an organisations structure these highly talented individuals are available and geography is not a limiting factor in hiring. Organisations can hire the right person for the job, the most experienced and also has the right culture fit regardless of location.
- Lower Stress and Higher Morale
In a study conducted by PGi called the State of Telecommuting they found that 82% of remote workers reported lower stress levels. Lower stress levels from any employee remote or otherwise is a great thing not only for the individual but also for the organisation and for the greater community. Imagine a world with fewer stressed people. The report also found an 80% increase in morale for those that could work remotely. It stands to reason that the decrease in stress levels and the increase in morale would have a natural correlation to the increase in productivity and efficiency. Apart from the financial cost of commuting an article in Psychology Today states that “Commuting also has significant psychological and social costs. It can be a major cause of stress due to the unpredictability and a sense of loss of control. Commuters can experience boredom, social isolation, and anger and frustration from problems like traffic or delays”. By eliminating the daily commute from a workers life stress levels are altered dramatically and resentment is reduced which therefore leads to a naturally higher state of morale.
- Employees Stay Longer
A study conducted by Stanford University which reviewed remote workers from a 16,000-employee, NASDAQ-listed travel company, found that offering a remote work option reduced employee turnover and “job attrition rates fell by over 50%”. These statistics are obviously quite profitable for any organisation.
Just as with any new hire the on-boarding process is crucial and with remote workers their job satisfaction increases over time so the early part of their employment is critical for the longevity of the position. Interviewing and on-boarding processes need to be adjusted a little to ensure that you are getting the right culture and skill fit from the outset. You also need to be sure that the individual is suited to remote working – not all people are. An infographic by Hubstaff.com outlines the best practices for interviewing for a remote worker and they list self motivation, the ability to troubleshoot, a super communicator, the ability to use technology to be able to the job effectively and being organised as the key characteristics to look for when interviewing a new hire.
5. Greater Employee Engagement
The myths of working in your pyjamas and binging on Netflix and being a natural introvert couldn’t be further from the truth for remote workers. You may think that workers that are not in the office on a daily basis are less engaged but the opposite is actually true. An article in Harvard Business Review found the team members who were not in the same location with their leaders were more engaged and committed — and rated the same leader higher — than team members sitting right nearby. Some key observations were that proximity breeds complacency, the fact that communicating with in office staff is easy can be taken for granted and not done effectively. Absence makes people try harder to connect. What’s more, because they have to make an effort to make contact, these leaders can be much more concentrated in their attention to each person and tend to be more conscious of the way they express their authority.
Leaders of virtual teams make a better use of tools. Because leaders of far-flung teams have to use videoconferencing, instant messaging, e-mail, voicemail, and yes, the telephone, to make contact, they become proficient in multiple forms of communication, an advantage in leadership that their traditional counterparts could well develop but not so automatically.
Leaders of far-flung teams maximize the time their teams spend together. Having had to make such an effort to get the team together, these leaders naturally want to make the best use of their precious time. They take care to filter out as many distractions as possible so they can focus on the work to be done together.
With some of the greatest organisations implementing Remote Working it’s hard to ignore the benefits. With Richard Branson quoted in a recent Fortune.com article of Life Lessons: Hire from Within and Let Your Employee’s Work from Home.