Remote work has been on the rise for some time now. According to Flexjobs report, “over the last five years, the number of people working remotely has grown by 44%”, and when the pandemic hit, the hand of many firms that refused to offer it beforehand was forced. There was no other option to keep a business going with the new regulations other than allowing the employees to work from home. And it turns out that what many thought would be a company’s downfall proved to be exactly what many of them needed. The topic has produced a large amount of attention and research, which suggests that the benefits of remote work can actually be very noticeable, and it should stay with us in the long run. Is it really the best option to stick to it even after the stay-at-home order? We looked at the influential reports by PayScale, Stanford, Gallup, and more to find out. Here is what we found.
Surprise! We’ve got ourselves an increase in productivity and performance.
Over the pandemic, there were many posts, articles, etc., saying that remote work is going to harm the productivity of employees, as they won’t be able to focus on their tasks at home. However, research shows that “remote workers can be 20% to 25% more productive than their onsite colleagues”. This comes as a surprise to many, but there are many very logical reasons for it. Not everyone is their most productive during the typical work hours. To be honest, the 9-to-5 workday is dead. We mean it. It never made sense to assume that everyone is wired the same way when it comes to productivity and performance. Some people produce their best work in the mornings, some over lunch, and some are night owls and will excel at night. Why should we all then be limited to those specific hours? Remote work allowed employees to find what works best for them and ensure they use their time efficiently.
As Gallup states in their research, “job flexibility engages remote workers — which drives performance.” And there are numbers to prove it. “85% of businesses say that implementing flexible work locations have made their company more productive”, but also “optimal engagement […] occurs when employees spend 60% to 80% of their time working off-site — or three to four days in a five-day workweek”. Another thing that is worth mentioning is all the time people save time on commuting. Standing in traffic every day for 30 min to get to the office is not only physically draining, but often causes delays in work. Not needing to commute means that when remote workers decide to start, they just do! No need to get on the train, bus, or bike across the city. Working from home also has fewer distractions, allows employees to create the perfect work-space, and means fewer meetings, translating to more efficient ones. Their productivity goes up, and along with its performance. When you work at an office and see someone come in an hour early and stay 2 hours more than needed, it may create a false positive that more work is being done. This can often lead to bias and favouritism from the employers’ side. However, when working from home, managers will only see what gets delivered to them, meaning the outcome will matter the most.
Employee retention rates are up, and the talent pool grows.
One of the many reasons why companies would lose some of their great employees was if they had to move. That no longer has to be the case. With telecommuters, the need to let go of an employee due to location change is much smaller. Thanks to the advancement in our technology, if one of your best employees decides to travel the world for a year, or move across the ocean, guess what? As long as there is wifi, they are good to keep working with you. For this same reason, employees are willing to stay with a company longer. In fact, “a whopping 82% of millennials say that they’d be more loyal to employers if they had the flexibility,” according to Remote.com. Flexibility is a very valued asset, and deciding where to work from and when to do it, is one of the most sought out perks. Gallup states that “54% of office workers would leave their job if they could have one with more flexibility”. But you are also able to keep working with people that move away, but you can also hire people across the world. By removing geographical obstacles, we can create a workplace that is far more diverse. Companies do not need to worry about relocation costs and can actually take into consideration candidates that would be the best fit, regardless of whether they live next door or 10,000km away. Flexible policies attract more talent, as well. And because of the location independence, the number of qualified people for the job increases. It can turn out that the person with the perfect fit for the job lives in a different country or even on a different continent. With remote work, that doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker anymore. Remote employees also report a better work-life balance. They can take care of personal matters, like doctor visits, in a timely manner. They have time to spend time with their families, be physically active, eat wholesome meals at home, take care of their physical and mental health. They are pushed to make more healthy choices. All of this drives up their happiness and willingness to stay with a company in the long run.
Better business outcomes – saving and making money
What comes with higher performance and the best talent? Profit. Saving on office space, certain onboarding processes, relocation expenses and various long-term savings.
Companies aren’t the only ones saving money, though. Employees working from home can save big amounts on gas, a professional wardrobe, transportation, parking fees, store-bought lunches, etc. According to Staples Workplace Survey results from 2019, “77% of employees say that working remotely will help their company lower operating costs”. Another important fact is that remote workers have a bigger choice in real estate. Because they do not have to live close to an office, they can choose to move further away from a big city where the costs of living, like rent, can be very high. When it comes to working, location independence allows them to pick a home-based on other important factors like price, distance from relatives, better schools for their kids, etc. On top of that, PayScale research shows that remote workers make 8.3% more than non-remote workers with the same job and qualifications”. And employees aren’t the only ones making more money. The companies are too. In addition to saving a lot, as mentioned, their profits increase due to a lower employee turnover rate, increased productivity, and performance of their workers. “Highly engaged workplaces can claim 41% lower absenteeism, 40% fewer quality defects, and 21% higher profitability,” according to Gallup.
We are on our way to a more humane, healthy, and meaningful workplace, and remote work with the flexibility it provides is a big step forward. Productivity should be fueled by well-being and self-development and not just short-term rewards. The benefits of remote work impact things not only for specific companies and their employees but on a global scale. The numbers speak for themselves, but so do the countless praises by the workers and business owners themselves. What do you think? Is remote work on a big scale here to stay?