Are you thinking about giving your employees the opportunity to work remotely? For many companies, having remote workers streamlines productivity and business growth.
Remote work is an upward trend across most industries. More employees, of all generations, want to change the way they work. And as it becomes harder and harder to secure solid talent, telecommuting is a popular benefit many businesses are offering to entice the best employees.
According to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report, 43% of Americans worked remotely at some point in 2016. And, that number continues to grow. Gallup also found that 37% of employees would change jobs if they could work remotely at least part of the time. This is a benefit that is trendy and desired.
Working remotely isn’t possible for all positions, though. For example, Gallup reported that 57% of employees in the computer/information systems/mathematical industry work remotely, while only 30% of retail employees telecommute. The reality is there are certain industries where remote work isn’t as feasible—if yours is one, it may not be a smart move for you and company.
But if most of your business tasks are in the cloud, moving to a partially mobile workforce is relatively easy. You can manage your virtual team by using calendar, video conference, and knowledge-sharing tools to keep everyone in the loop. And, you might use online time and attendance software to track when employees are working.
There are many benefits to letting employees work from home, but it takes a little planning and the right tools to make it work. Here are a few reasons you should consider allowing remote work on your growing team.
Letting employees work from home not only does wonders for your employees, but it can also benefit your business.
Micromanaging cripples an employee’s ability to get creative and come up with brilliant ideas. When employees work in the office, it can be easy to micromanage them. Even sitting at the same desk day after day can disrupt innovation.
When an employee works remotely, they can work in a setting they feel most comfortable in to spur their creativity. And, an employee might not feel as constrained to sit all day. They might stand, stretch, take little walks, or do other exercises.
Employees can also surround themselves with things that inspire them to be creative when they work remotely. And for those who work better when they can talk through things out loud, having the privacy to do so without disturbing coworkers can be an asset.
If you think remote employees spend their days away from their desks, think again. Working remotely can actually boost productivity for many telecommuters. A recent survey found that one in three U.S. employees believes they are more productive when working from home.
But, don’t just take the word of the employees. Another study by Stanford reports that remote employees were able to produce more work—equivalent to an additional full shift—per week when they worked from home.
The claim that workers are just as productive, if not more, when they work from home might be surprising to some. But when you consider the fact that employees limit distractions and don’t spend valuable time chatting with coworkers when they are at home, the argument makes a little more sense.
Work-life balance describes an employee’s ability to balance their professional and personal lives. A healthy work-life balance saves employees from chronic stress and helps them refrain from sacrificing aspects of their personal lives.
According to Gallup’s report, 53% of employees value a position that promotes work-life balance.
Telecommuting lets employees do things they might not be able to do in an office, like watching their kids, receiving deliveries, taking a jog during lunch, or working around doctors’ appointments.
When employees work from home, you might allow them to stray from the traditional 9-5 schedule. You may promote flexible scheduling, letting employees take breaks or work different hours to manage their personal lives.
Promoting work-life balance shows employees you value them and the work they do for your business. Knowing that you respect their personal lives could lead to an increase in employee morale. And when employees are able to effectively manage their personal lives, they won’t stress as much about those personal tasks when they’re working, leading to more engagement.
Employee engagement is achieved when your team is invested in and enthusiastic about the work they do, leading to increased production rates. Without employee engagement, your business might deal with high turnover rates and a suffering company bottom line.
Remote work can help eliminate some of those personal life stresses than can impact day-to-day engagement at work.
For example, you have an employee who worries about their children walking home from the bus. During the same time each day, the employee constantly checks their phone to verify their kids are home safely. Is that employee engaged at work during this time?
Although telecommuting might promote engagement, working remotely every day could limit it, too. Without the office environment and the physical interactions with coworkers, some remote employees might get lonely, resulting in lower engagement.
You can maximize engagement by both letting employees work remotely and requiring attendance in the office. Gallup found that engagement is highest when employees worked remotely part of the week and in the office the remaining time. If you let employees work remotely, set limits. For example, you may require all employees to be present in the office on certain days or for a specific number of days every week.
When you let employees work remotely, you might notice that fewer employees call out. Employees who would have called off to deal with an illness or a busy schedule can instead work from the comfort of their own couch.
Some employees don’t want to take off work when they are sick, which can lead to even more sick days as their cold spreads throughout the team. But when employees have the option to work from home, they can still get their work done from the comfort of their home, without infecting their coworkers.
Losing and replacing an employee is expensive and time-consuming, especially if they are a top performer. The average cost-per-hire is $4,425. And, the average time-to-fill a position is 36 days. The high cost of replacing employees is why many businesses focus on retention.
Letting employees work from home can help cut back on your business’s turnover rates by offering employees a fringe benefit they may want to stick around for. Not only does telecommuting boost employee satisfaction, but it also makes it possible for an employee to work for you if they move to a new city.
Consider losing your top performer because he or she needs to relocate. Letting them work remotely lets you keep them on your team, even if they’re working from the other side of the country.
We’ve talked about the savings your business will receive by reducing turnover. But, what about the savings you could earn by reducing the size of your office?
Having employees work from home means you can opt for office space that is smaller and less expensive, reducing the cost of utilities and rent. You can also save on office furniture, coffee, snacks and more.
If you let employees work from home some days and come into the office other days, consider desk shares. For example, Employee A is in the office on Mondays and Fridays while Employee B is in the office on Tuesdays and Thursdays. They can use the same space because they work on different days.
Remember, letting employees work remotely isn’t appropriate for every business. Consider the challenges of managing remote employees and determine whether your business is equipped to offer this benefit.
Rachel Blakely-Gray is a content writer at Patriot Software, LLC. Rachel enjoys providing actionable, growth-oriented content. Her work has also appeared in Startup Nation, Bplans.com, Laptop Hustle, CPA Practice Advisor, Recruiter.com and more.