6 Reasons Why Remote Work Will Improve Your Business
Last week I covered the rise of the distributed teams, and with it the rise of the remote worker. There are a number of reasons why the number of remote workers is rising, and while not everything that comes along with having remote team members is an absolute positive, there are a number of reasons why this phenomenon is a great development for the workforce and your company.
Let's take a look at my top ten reasons why the increase in remote workers is going to be beneficial for your company.
1. Remote work can increase productivity.
A number of studies have found you can actually increase the overall productivity of your team by allowing your employees to work remotely. One study led by Frank Siebdrat assessed the performance of 80 global software companies and found that distributed teams often outperformed colocated teams. Separately, a 2009 survey by Cisco of thousands of employees found that 69 percent said their productivity was higher when they worked remotely.
Further research by CanadaLife confirms this thought when they found that remote workers regard themselves as more productive than their office-bound peers. Remote workers rated their productivity a 7.7 out of 10 while office workers rated their productivity at about 6.5 out of 10.
Continuing this theme, FlexJobs’ annual survey found that 52% of employees work from their home or home office when they really need to focus on getting crucial work done. The lack of office distractions, a non-existent commute, a comfortable environment, and the flexibility of choosing your hours can lead to more focus on the tasks at hand.
2. It lowers stress and boosts morale.
Every company is looking to further boost employee happiness, as we all know a happy worker is a good worker. Greg Kratz found that workers who can telecommute at least occasionally tend to be healthier both physically and emotionally. Another study concluded that 82% of remote workers show reduced levels of stress.
The Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College conducted a study of more than 19,000 employees at nine different companies which found that stress and burnout were significantly lower in workers who had the flexibility to chose where they work. One separate study concluded that almost 82% of remote workers show reduced levels of stress when compared to their office worker peers. Allowing people to work from where they are happiest can be a massive boost to the broader employee morale even if the remote work is only on a part-time basis.
3. It saves money for both the employee and employer.
Due to a number of different operating costs associated with adding colocated employees, companies can save a significant amount of money by both allowing part-time remote work and hiring full-time remote workers. A recent study by Global Workplace Analytics found that a typical business can save $11,000 per employee per year simply by letting employees work remotely 50% of the work week.
This article presents two examples from large corporates — “Aetna (where some 14,500 of 35,000 employees don’t have an “in-office” desk) shed 2.7 million square feet of office space, saving $78 million. American Express reported annual savings of $10 million to $15 million thanks to its remote work options.”
Not only do companies save money, but the employees save a ton as well. According to Global Workplace Analytics, people who work from home half time can save between $2,000 to $6,500 a year. They refer to commuting costs, professional wardrobe, lunches bought out, child care, and other factors that can all be reduced or eliminated from a worker’s budget entirely.
4. Hiring remote workers allows you to take advantage of talent all over the world.
An additional benefit to hiring full-time remote workers is it allows your company to expand beyond its geolocation in order to hire the best talent available. Recruiting the best talent is incredibly important, but as Monster notes, the tech industry is also experiencing a shortage of talent for a number of jobs in the industry.
A big challenge most tech companies face is that they have a recruiting pool limited to their city. Either they hire locally or they need to convince a candidate to move their entire life to company’s location. This is extremely challenging for companies in smaller cities.
One way around this is to hire remotely. Boris Kontsevoi, the founder of Intetics Co says, “In the tech sphere, the majority of the work happens on the computer and online. As a result, the location of the person is no longer as important, as long as they have a reliable Internet connection.” With companies already implementing the tech needed to manage projects and communicate efficiently, hiring full-time remote talent is less of a hassle than it has ever been.
Dave Nevogt, CEO of Hubstaff, credits his remote teams as the number 1 reason he was able to successfully grow the company without raising outside funding. He states “The reason we were able to build a bootstrapped software company is because we could hire the best global talent available at the rates we could afford to pay, allowing us to grow the business with the revenue.”
And he isn’t alone. Buffer has 80+ employees and no physical office. Product Hunt has a CTO living in a different country. Basecamp has an office in Chicago but has teams dispersed throughout a number of different countries.
By taking advantage of remote workers, you are effectively making your talent pool equivalent to the global talent pool, and likely hiring better candidates while saving money in the long run.
5. It increases company loyalty
Finding and hiring the best talent is important, but retaining and growing your human capital can be a difference maker in scaling a company efficiently. Allowing for part-time remote work, flexible hours, and other perks related to working outside normal office conditions can be a great way to retain the talent you’ve already hired.
76% of US workers surveyed by FlexJobs said they prefer to do important tasks in places other than the office and 82% said they would be more loyal to their current employer if the organization had flexible working arrangements. That is not a small number, and it is further validated by other studies and statistics. One study by PGI found that 69% of the companies’ employees reported lower absenteeism when allowed the ability to work outside the office. Not only are you more likely to retain your best talent, but you are typically getting a more reliable workforce.
Gary Poster concludes that some of the reasons this flexibility matters so much is that “Successful remote workers typically appreciate the lack of a commute, and the flexibility and control of working hours, workspace, and residence.”
By being flexible with where employees work it means you are going to be able to retain employees when their personal lives might call for a change in location. In this Forbes article, John Winter of Content Bloom states “We’ve had some very key members of the team wish to move to other locations in the world or country. In one instance, a person’s spouse was given a great opportunity in a new location, and the family needed to move to support the opportunity. When someone plans on leaving, a lot of knowledge and investment leaves with them. A remote/work-from-home policy helps resolve this problem. “
6. It means the company is always on.
By “always on” I mean a few different things. First, remote workers typically work more hours and are more accessible than in-office employees. According to 2017 research by Cardiff University more than 39% of people who work from home work additional hours to complete their projects, compared with less than 24% of those in fixed workplaces.
They are also taking less time off. According to Buffer’s State of Remote Work 2018 Report, 55% of remote workers take fewer than 15 days of vacation per year. I was shocked to learn that 16% of remote workers actually fell into the smallest range of vacation days taken in their survey of 0–5 days.
Greater timezone diversity can also reduce customer service and support burdens, encourage collaboration between teams, and increase the likelihood of team availability when customer issues arise. Buffer states “We obsessively track the happiness of our customers and our speed to respond to them. We have more than a million users and we reply to 80% of emails within 1 hour. We couldn’t achieve this level of service without being spread across multiple timezones.”
According to a survey by PowWowNow, 80% to 90% of the US workforce says they would like to telework at least part-time. Just by looking at these few reasons, it is not hard to see why. As technology continues to develop, the world is becoming a smaller place. The workplace is shedding the barriers that geolocation enforced in many ways, and the workforce at large is reacting in ways that are producing positive outcomes for both employers and employees.
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