Remote working was hugely popular, even before the coronavirus took the world by storm, and we were told we were living and working in a global pandemic.
In 2018, Forbes estimated that around 50% of U.S. workers were going to be remote. Remote working allows employees more flexibility in their work/home life. Working from home offers many benefits, which I’ll discuss in greater detail with you shortly.
The beauty of remote working is that it doesn’t have to be “working from home”. You can, in fact, work from anywhere that is considered a suitable location. If you have desk space, a computer or laptop, and an internet connection, you can pretty much work remotely, wherever you choose to be. This movement has offered up lots of flexible workspaces, from private offices to hot desks
In today’s global crisis that we face, many may consider remote working a fad or a temporary solution. However, if a business really wants to promote remote working as a sustainable solution, they’ll need to invest resources to make this possible. We need to show the world that remote working does have plenty of benefits, and it can be a very valuable tool for the world.
The benefits of remote working are still very much in debate in many organizations. Many company managers are reluctant to offer or approve remote working requests. This leaves workers wondering how to move forward, feeling stuck in the traditional and monotonous ways of working.
2. Remote Working Statistics
Several research institutions (Harvard University, Global Workplace Analytics, Stanford University, etc.) have studied remote working. These statistics are public and therefore hold more weight than private data collections.
I thought it was important to take a quick glance at some of these statistics to understand the benefits of remote working:
- Remote workers are up to 40% more productive than office workers
- Remote workers have reported an output increase of up to 4.4%
- Workers who have location independence are more autonomous, producing 40% fewer defects in the quality of their work
- Working from home offers higher productivity and 41% lower absenteeism
- 54% of employees claim they would change to a job that provided more flexibility
- When a remote working agreement is offered, employers can see a 12% turnover reduction
- Per part-time remote working, organizations can save around $11,000 per year
3. Benefits of Remote Work (For Employers)
Encouraging employers and organizations to promote or allow their employees to work remotely can be slightly more difficult, as employees tend to jump at the chance.
However, there are plenty of benefits either way and perhaps some that employers hadn’t even considered. The less obvious benefits may tip the scales for employers, so let’s take a look at the advantages of allowing employees more flexibility and freedom to work in a more flexible environment.
- Better Retention: Small businesses often struggle in competing with larger companies that can offer employees a higher salary or better benefits. Offering remote work can be a real selling point for small businesses, not only for attracting new staff but for keeping existing staff too.
- More Choice: Remote working has become extremely popular, especially for Millennials. They’ve grown up with technology being available almost anywhere in the world, so it’s no surprise they expect similar from a workplace. By offering remote working, employers can access a wider pool of applicants for jobs, attracting younger and highly skilled employees.
- Cheaper: Renting office space is undoubtedly expensive. Whilst you can claim some of the costs back, it’s still going to be a large expense. On top of that, you have gas bills, internet bills, and so on. Allowing employees to work remotely, even just for a couple of days a week, can save you a small fortune.
- Autonomy: Employees tend to be more autonomous if you allow them their own space and freedom to work where they want. Some employees may choose to set up their own office at home, whereas others work better on a beachfront. Whatever they choose, your employees will be able to create an environment that pleases them, allowing them to perform at their peak.
- Lower Salaries: Whilst, not all employees would happily take a pay cut in favour of remote working, some research says up to 32% of employees would choose to work from home as opposed to a pay rise. Instead of offering rewards, pay rises, or even day trips, employers may want to consider offering remote working a show of goodwill for their hard work.
4. Benefits of Remote Work (For Employees)
Remote working has plenty of benefits, more obviously for employees, due to greater flexibility. For those who already work remotely, 9 out of 10 said they plan to do so for the rest of their careers.
2020 offers workers technology beyond what we could have imagined 5, even 10 years ago. Video conferences are easy with the software available, staying connected with colleagues is simple and effective, and cloud services allow for better collaboration.
- Work-life Balance: Most people strive for a better work-life balance. If someone offered you the opportunity to work from home, or anywhere in the world, whilst still getting paid, I’m sure lots would snap up the chance. Employees tend to be happier in their own environment, work more effectively, and save money on commuting.
- More Freedom: Greater freedom is a big selling point for employees working remotely. The dreaded 9 to 5 doesn’t make room for ad-hoc dental appointments or your child’s soccer games. However, remote working grants that freedom, making it a lot more appealing. Being able to work from the other side of the country whilst still earning your salary is a huge benefit.
- Better Health: Well-being is something that many people don’t have time for. Rushing to the shops after a hard day at the office, skipping the gym because you’re too tired, or knocking back too many coffees just to keep up with the mad rush of office-working life. Physical and mental well-being is hugely important for employees; something which remote working offers on a platter, limiting stress and exposure to sick colleagues.
- Greater Productivity: Doesn’t it feel good when you’ve achieved something you’ve been working hard on? Distractions in the office are a real hardship for many, but what if your employers trusted you to work from home, out of the office, when they want to. Research shows that productivity is increased when working remotely, as well as a 50% decrease in employee attrition, and fewer sick days.
5. The Future of Remote Working
Americans and workers all of the world have seen an increase in the number of people working from home, since the coronavirus pandemic. Many people are asking the question: Will people continue to work remotely when COVID-19 is less of a threat?
25,000 American workers were surveyed in April’s 2020 MIT survey, showing that 34% who were employed four weeks prior, were currently working from home. On top of that, 15% said they were working from home pre-COVID-19.
Figures suggest that almost half of the American workforce are remote workers. The Brookings Institution says that COVID-19 is “a massive experiment in telecommuting”, and from what I’ve seen and heard, it’s been a huge success.
We already know the benefits to employers and employees of working remotely, but is working from home the future of work? This global pandemic has certainly opened up the eyes of many, presenting a “new normal” which seems to be working well for a lot of people. Coronavirus has meant that Moms and Dads are working from home, kids spend more time with their parents, partners have more time to support each other, and the world is finding more reasons to be generous, flexible, and creative.
It’s known that federal and state governments are offering grants and loans to businesses who require upgrades to meet remote working technology. With these investments, organizations will be in a better position, post-pandemic, to support people working remotely.
If COVID-19 has shown us anything, it’s that millions of organizations and people have the ability to work from home, and this possibility has actually worked. Perhaps more employers will allow some if not all of their workers to work remotely some or all of the time.
MIT researchers said, “Once businesses and individuals invest in the fixed costs of remote work, they may decide to stay with the new methods”.
Not everyone can work from home, and not everyone will want to. 19% of remote workers say that loneliness is their biggest struggle, followed closely by collaboration and communication efforts (17%).
It may be that organizations decide to create some kind of hybrid between office work and remote work, where some work in an office environment, some at home, or even a part-time mix between both.