Although there are many benefits of telecommuting for employers, it’s actually workers who are driving the demand. Working from home has a big appeal for most workers. And, they are letting their desires be known. According to GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com, as of January 2016, 80 to 90 percent of the U.S. workforce says they would like to telework at least part time.
Even if your company is not offering remote working options, chances are your employees are already working remotely. According to a recent Gallup survey, 36 percent of U.S. adults say they “frequently” check work email outside of working hours. And, that’s just company email. The outside-of-work-hours trend is helping to push more work outside of the office. In 2015, nearly a quarter of all U.S. workers did some or all of their work from home, according to a recent survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s an increase from 19 percent in 2003.
So should you consider letting your employees telecommute? Here are a few of the key factors that have convinced other organizations to take the leap.
Potential benefits for allowing remote working
A wider pool of applicants
Many highly skilled workers can’t fit the traditional 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. office hours for personal reasons. But, these workers could still be significant contributors to your talent pool. According to a FlexJobs survey, 52 percent of job seekers looking for remote work are doing so because of family reasons.
Happy employees are more likely to stay at their jobs. According to the aforementioned FlexJobs survey, 82 percent of job seekers looking to telecommute said they would be more loyal to their employers if they had flexible work options. Employees stick around when they are happy. In a 2011 Staples Advantage survey, 76 percent of employees that worked from home reported they were more loyal to their companies since they started telecommuting.
According to the same survey, 86 percent of remote workers self-reported they are more productive at home. At home, you have fewer meetings and less distractions. Plus, telecommuters often work significantly harder than they would in the office. This is because they feel they have been given extra trust and responsibility.
“They feel compelled to go above and beyond to make their work presence more visible, to make themselves known as assets,” said Ravi S. Gajendran, a professor of business administration. “In fact, they almost overcompensate by being extra helpful, because they know in the back of their minds that their special arrangement could easily go away. So, they give a little extra back to the organization.”
The bottom line
A company in Shanghai estimated they saved $2,000 per worker. This savings was attributed to fewer sick days used and less recruitment and training expenses due to improved retention. GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com is even more rosy. It estimates that the average U.S. company could save as much as $11,000 per employee annually by implementing a work-from-home policy.
Potential problem: Isolation
Clearly working from home is not for everyone. Although many teleworkers report less stress, isolation can cause it’s own form of stress. That’s why coworking and shared work spaces are growing in popularity. To counteract potential isolation, some experts suggest having employees work split their week between working from home and working in the office.