The remote work evolution: Why telecommuting is on the rise in 2017
The idea of hiring employees to work outside the office has spurred a heated global debate over the last decade. From it’s humble beginnings in 2005, it has gained enormous momentum, with a 73% increase (2 million workers) by 2011 in the US alone. Flexible working hours is now the #1 desired job benefit in the United States for all age groups. In addition, 92% of Millennials have expressed the desire to work remotely.
Why are companies continuing to leave behind the traditional office spaces in favour of remote workers? Here are the top 5 reasons:
1. Work Doesn’t Happen At “Work”
Where do you really go if you want to get work done? If you ask people, very few will respond with the “office”. If they do, they will likely add a qualifier like “early in the morning, late at night or on the weekend”.
This is because modern day offices have become “interruption factories” full of unnecessary meetings, segmented breaks and distractions. A employee working in an office can’t go more than a few hours without being disturbed, less so if they don’t have a closed office with a door.
Chatty colleagues, buzzing printers, ringing phones and other “normal office sounds” are costing businesses an average of 759 wasted hours per year according to a study of 2’000 participants conducted by Think Money. That’s more than 60 billable hours per month for each employee, just in distractions!
When we add in unnecessary meetings, coffee breaks, long lunches, office events and random conversations between colleagues, that figure will likely double.
In stark contrast, a nine month study conducted by Bloom has showed the same employees performing 13.5% better when working from home then they’d been in the office.
2. Commuting Makes Your Employees Less Productive
The morning commute has become a thing of nightmares for more than 139 million workers in US. According to recent studies in social and public health research, daily commutes are closely linked to increased rates of obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, neck and back pains and even depression. This directly results in employees being absent from work and performing badly.
A new study by the Social Market Foundation has also concluded that happy employees, perform 12% better, on average, than those who are unhappy. Some data has shown happiness can increase performance by as much as 20%! By way of comparison with the GDP and economic growth, “rises of 3% or so are considered large”.
Happy employees are productive employees and the morning commute was ranked dead last in terms of positive emotions. For anyone that has experienced a long commute on a crowded train, this will come as no surprise.
3. 24 Hour Work Force
Imagine your employees worked 24 hours per day, how much more work do you think could be done in a week? If all your employees are expected to work in the office, this concept quickly becomes impractical and expensive. Hiring a remote workforce from around the world not only gives you access to the best talent, it allows you to have someone on the job 24/7.
An employee in US could easily send their work to a different person in Australia to work on overnight. By the following morning, the project can be progressed 8 hours further along. With two separate teams, to handle the workload, your customers will never have to wait for a reply.
4. Savings On Office Perks
The competition of the best office perks has become an ongoing war between companies. From student loan payments to company-paid wedding expenses, perks have become the 21st Century strategy for attracting talent. According to Evren Esen, director of SHRM, offering perks is a “recruitment and retention tool”
A survey conducted by the Society For Human Resource Management now monitors almost 350 benefits offered to employees, as opposed to 60 in 1996. Those new ping pong tables, craft beer taps and theatre rooms don’t come cheap.
Especially when the #1 most desired job benefit of remote work could be given for free!
5. Savings On Office Space And Equipment
Any corporate accountant will tell you that every dollar makes a difference. Half a floor in a city skyscraper will set a company back thousands of dollars per week. When you add in furniture, technology, office supplies, cleaning staff, electricity and water bills, it adds up to hundreds of millions of dollars!
IBM, an international tech giant running operations in over 170 countries, has proven it. Since 1995, using it’s telework strategy, the tech giant has reduced its office space by 78 million square feet. Out of that, 58 million square feet was sold at a gain of 1.9 billion dollars. The sublease income for the remaining space is bringing in 1 billion dollars a year.
And IBM is not the only company taking advantage of telecommuting. Every year, it is estimated that at least 100 million dollars is saved in office leases from remote employees.
For businesses, the money savings alone are enough of a reason to consider not renewing the office lease in 2017. When coupled with increased productivity, happy employees and a 24/7 workforce, the benefits far outweigh any drawbacks. Here’s to another successful year!