When you ask people the benefits of working from home, freedom and flexibility are two of the most popular answers. But those advantages merely scratch the surface of the advantages from remote work.
Working from home has become increasingly common in recent years. While the COVID-19 pandemic may have kickstarted this trend, the many benefits of working from home provide the reason behind its sustainability.
Working from Home: Before and After COVID-19
The sudden closure of different workplaces and offices due to COVID-19 ushered in a much-needed era of remote work for millions of professionals around the world.
Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, only 7 percent of workers in the US were employed at a flexible workplace. These employees were predominantly highly paid, white-collar professionals. But now, even administrative remote work is very common.
In a study by Pew Research that was based on 5,858 adults in the US, 71 percent of workers are now working at home. More than half of these workers prefer remote work to continue indefinitely.
Tech companies like Twitter have promised their employees that they can work at home forever. Even Fortune 500 companies show an increase in staff working virtually, from 16 percent to 65 percent since the outbreak of COVID-19.
Because of these drastic results, Forbes has dubbed remote work as the biggest legacy of COVID.
Working from Home: Productivity
One of the biggest areas of interest in remote work is the impact on employee productivity. Contrary to the traditional belief that workers need constant supervision in an office setting to be productive, research has found the opposite to be true.
Studies have found that employees working remotely are 20-25% more productive than compared with working in the office. Other studies have found even higher productivity gains from remote work. Prodoscore reported an increase in employee productivity of 47% from March 2020 compared to March 2019. This increase is attributed to fewer social distractions and having greater job autonomy.
Another study by Great Place to Work surveyed over 800,000 employees at Fortune 500 companies. Workers were more productive, willing to do more to get the job done, and were able to adapt quickly to changes to reach company goals.
Reasons for this boost in productivity included the elimination of long and tedious in-person meetings, lack or required daily commutes, and feeling like they were valued members of teams.
Benefits of Working from Home
It is clear that the current trend of working from home is here to stay. And while there are clear productivity gains that result from telecommuting, there are a number of other valuable benefits associated with remote work.
Working remotely helps people save money because they no longer have to pay for gas, parking fees, lunches and dinners bought out, professional wardrobes, and other expenses. One estimate is that employees are able to save $4,000 per year in working from home as opposed to going to the office.
Not only does remote work benefits employees, but it also provides cost-cutting opportunities for employers. Companies are switching to telecommuting environments because they realize significant long-term operational costs savings.
A typical company usually spends money on overhead costs, real estate, continuity of operations, and transit subsidies. However, many of these costs are reduced or eliminated through the switch from office work to working from home.
With telecommuting employees, working 9 to 5 is no longer a realistic model because of task duration, different energy and motivation levels, and varying personal schedules. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that the job doesn’t get done.
Remote working allows employees to be productive during the hours when they feel the most productive and creative. This way, they can spend time on their tasks and work efficiently while accommodating their needs.
When you’re not spending hours worrying about traffic jams, you can spend more time on worthwhile things. Sitting in traffic may seem minor but one estimate suggests that the average worker spends over 40 hours in traffic every year, and 100 hours commuting.
A lot of the tasks involved with remote work can be done on a flexible schedule. For instance, content creators can write at whatever time of the day they please as long as they meet their deadlines.
Even if you have to work specific hours, you still have break times to use however you’d like. Just having 10 minutes of free time at home will allow you to do things that you couldn’t do in traditional offices, like squeeze in a short yoga session or take a nap. Therefore, you’ll come back more refreshed following a 10-minute break at home compared to spending 10 minutes scrolling on Instagram at your office work desk.
A healthier life
One of the best benefits remote work can offer you is improved mental and physical health. Around 80 percent of people feel stressed at work. And about 1 in 7 workers even felt like hitting a coworker in the past 12 months. These negative aspects of an office environment can take their toll on the physical and emotional wellbeing of workers. As such, it should come as no surprise that people who work remotely reported being 22 percent happier than professionals who work on-site.
Remote work can do wonders to improve an employee’s health because it gives them the freedom they need – no commutes, no overtime, and no restricted hours. Remote workers can adjust their schedules to better accommodate working outs, resting, or preparing a good meal.
Working in an office can be tough on employees who do not want to deal with constant surveillance from higher-ups. Hours of sitting and staying on their desk can also put a strain on their love for the company.
On the other hand, remote work allows them to work the way they want without someone continuously monitoring them in person. This is a big deal because 2 out of 5 employees would give up a percentage of their pay just to have more autonomy at work.
Employee satisfaction is important for both employees and employers. Employees that feel a sense of satisfaction at work are happy people. Importantly, happy people are generally healthy people.
A recent survey found that although 2020 was a tough year, remote workers scored 75 out of 100 in the Workforce Happiness Index. Of particular note is that on every question related to satisfaction, remote workers featured very high scores.
But employee satisfaction is also a valuable asset for employers. According to 95 percent of employers, telework has significantly impacted employee retention. High employee turnover can also mean more onboarding costs for companies, not to mention the wasted time in searching, hiring, and training new employees.
So keeping your workers satisfied prevents companies from costly recruitment expenses, which is particularly important during downturns in economic activity.
Expansion of talent pool
Since employees no longer need to go to the office, employers no longer have limitations in hiring and HR practices. This means they have greater chances of finding someone with the experience, skills, and personality that align with what the organization requires. With remote working, employers can create a well-rounded team of professionals to achieve company goals.
Communication is more effective
Working from home will make you appreciate the value of communication. Because you are not around your teammates and co-workers all the time, every conversation you have with them will be more relevant. This is one of the biggest benefits of working from home.
For instance, no co-worker will randomly visit you at your desk when you’re busy. Or small talk won’t be a daily thing when you visit the office lounge. If someone needs to say something to you, they would compose a polite message.
Although having face-to-face meetings has its advantages, working remotely can make meetings more effective. A video conference involving ten people can be set up with just a few clicks that may last for just 15 minutes instead of an hour. And forget about making copies of documents for everyone attending the virtual meeting because, with telecommuting, you can share documents and other files quickly and conveniently.
You can also send comments and questions via chat box without interrupting anyone who is talking or presenting. In this way, participation is much improved with virtual meetings compared to more traditional gatherings.
Working From Home: A New Way Forward
The benefits of working from home have impacted companies on a global scale. It provides cost savings in the form of reduced overhead costs, employee subsidies, and perks, increases worker productivity, and enhances HR flexibility. As many businesses make the leap, sooner or later, they will discover that working remotely is the best way forward.
|You pay for the costs of going to the office, such as gas, car maintenance, and parking fees. Also, you are also likely to buy coffee as you head to the office or purchase lunch and dinner at a nearby restaurant.
|You have the time to prepare your own food and no longer worry about being stuck in traffic. After work, you won’t get tempted to spend on eating out and happy hour drinks.
For example, one estimate suggests that the average employee working remotely can save more than $4,500 on fuel costs annually.
|An employee in the office is usually interrupted every eleven minutes. This hampers the employee’s productivity as it takes up to 30 minutes to get back to work.
|Employees working remotely render 1.4 more days monthly actually working compared to their office counterparts. This is a win-win situation for both the employers and employees.
|When employees work at an office, supervisors and managers have a clear view of their work. They can always check up on them, ask questions and even have meetings to ensure that everything is on the right track.
|Managers and supervisors are more concerned with working remotely because they don’t have experience with micromanaging employees. That is why having the right tools are crucial to ensure remote work success.
|Working from the office encourages growth and development as an organization. However, working with others, providing mentor/mentee programs, team building, and having growth plans can help everyone grow as individuals and as an organization.
|Working remotely, by its very nature, hampers teamwork. Work schedules typically fragmented, which results in the reduction of interaction with other team members. As long as you meet daily quotas, often systems remain intact.