Since 2008, research has shown that the number of people working from home has risen by 115%. Furthermore, in the next decade, the Digital Workplace Group predicts that 38% of full-time employees will be working remotely. Despite these statistics, there is still some resistance to remote working, largely from employers.
Remote Working – Trepidation from employers
Beyond the obvious – that your job is impossible to do remotely, you are handling highly confidential information or you are in a junior position where you benefit from hands on training; we understand that there are other reasons for employer trepidation. Such reasons may include, infrastructure and management.
In order for an employee to work remotely successfully, they need to be properly set up outside of the office. This could involve access to shared drives and in-house programs, company laptops, desktops, phone lines and headsets. For some businesses, this is a huge investment to trial something that may not work. In addition to this, some managers may lack the training and experience to manage remote workers. Most managers are used to managing face to face, but with remote teams managers cannot revert to previous experience. They may also express concern over productivity without supervision. Will their employees actually be working, or will they be off on their jolly’s? Because of these challenges, many managers prefer not to entertain the idea of remote working.
However, given the current COVID-19 situation, many of us have been put on an enforced ‘trial run’ of remote working. This shift in how people are going to be working over the coming months, could bring about interesting results. Will more employees and employers start entertaining the idea of remote working on a longer term basis?
Advantages of remote working for Employees
The advantages of remote working for employees are clear and often spoken about in literature and online. Remote working for employees means:
- Being able to work when and wherever they want
- Spending no time commuting
- Working in a workspace of their choosing, most likely in the comfort of their own home
- Great work / life balance
- Feeling valued and trusted by their employer
Advantages of remote working for Employers
Where remote working could be conducive to your business, there are significant benefits in offering remote working conditions.
Productivity & Engagement
Despite employers’ concern about the lack of productivity in remote working conditions, many find the contrary to be true. In fact, studies have shown those who do not commute to work, are far more likely to start work earlier and finish later. In addition to this, workers can set up a workstation at home where they feel comfortable and distractions are minimised. This lends to a much more productive work space in comparison to the average office environment.
In some professionals, such as the tech industry, focus on the task in hand is paramount. Having the peace and quiet for this, with minimal interruptions is critical, which is why working from home in this industry is so popular.
As well as increased productivity, working from home has shown a higher employee engagement rate. This is because, without commuting and being away from home for long periods of time, workers can create a better work life balance.
A work-life balance sets the stage for engagement. It makes employees feel valued, competent and trusted. They believe that they are actively involved in the company’s vision, they are participants rather than just cogs in a wheel. A study by Edward Lawler found that companies with a high participation level from their employees, have a 19% higher return on investment. In addition to this, a survey from the Corporate Executive Board, found that employees who feel that they have a good work-life balance, work 21% harder than those who don’t.
Employee Health & Happiness
With good work-life balance and engagement, happiness and morale follow. A recent study by Stanford University assessed the differences between employees working from home and those employed in the same role, but based in the office. They found that out of 250 participants, those allowed to work at home were 9% more engaged than their office-based counterparts. They also reported shorter breaks, fewer days off sick and less time taken for annual leave. Further, while it is hard to quantifiably measure happiness, employees who worked from home reported ‘higher job satisfaction’.
This can come in many forms and will be different depending on the organisation. However, one of the more obvious benefits of remote working for employers is that they will have to spend less (or nothing) on office space.
In addition, because remote workers are not spending money on commuting costs, they are (in most cases) happy to take a slight reduction in salary. Further, for employers, expenses that the worker does incur with working from home, are thought to be their responsibility. While this is not true for all workers, this is true for freelancers and those who are self employed. Furthermore, by hiring remote employees, there is no obligation to offer ‘office perks’. Freelancers are more likely to organise their own health insurance, reducing costs for employers further.
Larger Talent Pools
Hiring remote employees means that you have the luxury of a vast talent pool, irrelevant of location. Because your talent pool is so big, it is likely that a lot of these remote workers will already have the necessary skill set required for the advertised role, which could mean reduced training costs.
By hiring without the restriction of location, you are inadvertently creating a diverse workforce and studies have shown strong links between diversity and creativity. By establishing a diverse workforce, you are bringing together multiple approaches, skill sets and perspectives. With this comes increased knowledge sharing and creativity, which could put you one step ahead of your competitors and see a great ROI.
One of the great advantages of flexible working and hiring remote workers, is employee retention rates. There are many reasons for this; as a company, you will not lose your workers if they move house, employees may be more likely to continue working throughout their pregnancy and even into early motherhood and flexible working is of paramount importance to millennial’s who by 2025 represent 75% of the global workforce.
Working Remotely Is Better For The Environment
This point has never been so relevant – given our current COVID-19 pandemic. We are seeing decreases in pollution from all over the world. From clear canals in Italy to skies turning blue again in China with the factories being powered down. But this also applies with regards to commuting – with less cars on the road, there will be less pollution. And there is no denying that with less people going into the office, people will be less inclined to purchase throw away coffee cups or containers on their lunch breaks. You will also be conserving office space and have less of a need for office supplies, electricity etc.
It Has Never Been So Easy
Many employer state that one of the reasons they do not employ remote workers or considering working from home schemes is because they are worried about communication, management and business collaboration. But hiring and managing remote workers has never been easier and with the introduction and implementation of huge tech platforms like Slack, Google Hangouts, Trello and Microsoft Teams, remote communication can be seamless. If employers and employees are willing to embrace modern technology and interactive displays, remote working is a definite possibility for many companies, and we believe it is the way of the future.
These are just some of the benefits of remote working for employers, but most are relevant to employees looking to work remotely. The world of work is moving fast and the reality is, remote working hugely appeals to the millennial workforce. For the progressive companies who embrace this way of working, they are likely to have a more committed, engaged and productive workforce.
Remote Working Do’s & Dont’s
Business looking to implement remote working conditions should:
- If remote working is new to you and your company, test it out with a trial period with your current employees.
- Investigate what technology they will need and put the appropriate technological tools in places – such as data security and confidentiality policies and measures.
- Update your employers liability policy to cover remote working conditions
- Amend employee contracts, covering data protection measures and confidentiality policies.
- Consider whether you should conduct a health and safety assessment of the remote workers workstations.
- Investigate what communication platform works before for you to keep in touch with your remote workers.
Employers should not:
- If you are new to remote working conditions, do not jump in 100%.
- Treat remote workers and in-office workers differently. This could put the firm on the wrong side of discrimination laws and leave their remote workers feeling isolated.
- Contact remote workers out of hours. Despite working from home, they should still only be working their set work hours.
- Expose the company to data breaches. Remote workers should be educated and trained with regards to handling data in public spaces away from the office, such as cafes.
If remote working is something you are interested in as an employer, use this article to assist you in your decision, and remember, we are here for any questions you may need answering.