Telecommuting is all the rage right now and is becoming an increasingly important consideration for employees. The digitisation of business is only accelerating the rise of working from home. But is remote working a benefit to business? If so, to what extent?
It’s what you do. Not where you do it.
Working from home helps to engage and motivate workers – and happy workers are far more important to a business than a rigid in-office policy (provided location is not fundamental to the nature of an organisation).
So, can working from home boost productivity?
Working from home cuts the commute
The daily commute contributes strongly to job satisfaction. In fact a report by CNBC which asked employees why they left their jobs for another role showed a quarter of the respondents cited a better commute as their reason for leaving.
Eliminating the commute and working from home are important to employers and workers for several reasons.
For employers, it cuts costs significantly. Working from home can reduce office space and utilities, and facilitates better use of resources – especially where technology is concerned. Companies that enable working from home are also likely to see lower incidences of sick leave, due to reduced stress among employees.
For workers, remote working frees up their time to be spent more productively. It also increases personal time contributing to employee wellbeing. Remote workers are more likely to develop healthier exercise habits. The above survey showed remote workers get 25 more minutes of physical exercise each week than office-based employees.
Moreover, remote workers are likely to take more regular breaks, while office workers are pressed to take shorter ones. Longer breaks have been shown to boost productivity. While remote workers are reportedly empowered to take longer breaks, they were found to be productive for 10 minutes longer on average. Remote workers work 1.4 days per month more than their office-based counterparts – an additional 3 weeks’ worth of work a year!
Remote workers are less distracted
You may think that working in your living room is a dangerous game. The temptations of picking up the phone, flipping through the TV channels, making a snack, reading a magazine all have the potential to unleash a Pandora’s box of procrastinations halting productivity altogether. But, in reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
The Airtasker survey above found that remote workers are distracted as many as 10 minutes less a day. This is in large part due to the lack of office noise, short-notice meetings, and especially non work-related discussions. While workplace relations are certainly crucial to collaboration and job satisfaction, the survey found that office-based workers spend 37 minutes more than remote workers discussing non-work topics a day. Less in-office interruptions allow remote workers to focus on key tasks and get projects finished.
This is due in large part to discipline and methodologies that keep remote workers motivated. Remote workers are assisted especially by taking regular breaks, setting their own work hours, and comprehensive check-lists.
The message is clear: the ability to manage one’s own workload without fear of micromanagement or employer monitoring can significantly boost one’s own performance and job satisfaction, in turn, driving an organisation’s productivity.
It makes much better use of technology
The cost of software has declined in recent years. The latest generation of HR software offers self-service options that allow employees to manage personal data, access key documents, book holidays, and record absences online without having to be in the office. HR systems also come with integral social portals that allow people to get quick answers to questions, collaborate on projects, and interact with colleagues beyond the confines of the office.
It helps to build a more flexible workforce
Alongside the greater exposure to technology, flexible work options help to develop an outward thinking and agile workforce. This outlook allows employees to better serve clients and consumers who expect to be able to access services and contact suppliers beyond the confines of the traditional working day. Companies that enable working from home are generally able to offer a more flexible service to clients over extended hours, and to deal with different time zones – all without having to commute.
Remote working attracts talent
Because of its potential to boost job satisfaction, not only can flexible working help with performance, it also helps recruit and retain the best talent. As trends in the job market have shown, companies are struggling to retain the best talent.
The flexibility outlined in this article can make all the difference. Working from home enables workers to balance their personal and work life much more effectively. Everyone, employees with commitments – familial, non-familial, voluntary, health and so on – can benefit from working from home.
What’s the catch?
What are the problems with flexible working? Working from home isn’t an answer for everything. Some businesses may, by their very nature, not be able to support remote working.
There are many questions that must be considered before implementing a remote working policy:
- How will remote working work in practice?
- Can working from home drive desk-bound colleagues to be concerned or even resentful about others’ home-working arrangements?
- Will remote workers feel isolated from the team?
- What are the business cases for remote working?
- How can you draw up a clear policy?
HR software can make these issues much easier to resolve.
How HR software can help with embracing working from home
HR systems like Cezanne HR are equipped with a team calendar feature to plan cover and easily see where everyone is, as well as what their tasks, projects, and other priorities are, allowing for smoother collaboration.
HR software also allows you to keep in touch with employees who want to work from home, whether it’s organising a daily catch-up or weekly call. This helps keep lines of communication open, with regular appointments to help address issues, raise questions, and keep track of progress on important projects. This also helps not to leave remote workers in the dark, ensuring they’re included in development opportunities and invited to attend important meetings and team social events.
Don’t forget face-to-face time
Face-to-face contact remains crucial to the alignment of a business, and homeworking is best when this is taken into account with employees spending regular time in the office.
Managed effectively, businesses can really benefit from allowing people to work from home, as it can lead to higher retention, improved engagement, and an overall more flexible and productive workforce.
Have you implemented flexible working in your organisation? How has it worked for you and your workforce? Let us know!