For many of us, work is something that takes place strictly within the walls of an office – something intrinsically separate from the rest of our lives and confined to a specific time and location. But what if it didn’t have to be that way?
Let’s face it, we’ve all wished at some point that we could work from home. No annoying colleagues making a noise and snacking on overly pungent tuna sandwiches, no time-sapping commute, no need to wake up at the crack of dawn. That might sound like a dream scenario, but for an increasing sector of the workforce, it’s fast becoming a reality.
In fact, according to recent studies, it’s predicted that almost 50% of the US workforce will be conducting their business affairs from the confines of their own homes within the next three years. Yep, it now seems feasible that we could one day be telling our grandchildren about those mythical ‘offices’ that we once used to visit every day, their faces aghast with astonishment at this seemingly outrageous concept.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet. Office spaces as we know them aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. For many business owners, the thought of letting employees drift around in their pyjamas remains highly unsettling, and employees in turn are fearful of the unknown, much as it might entice them. But to forge ahead with the status quo might ultimately be detrimental to both.
Studies show that employees who are given the flexibility to work from home are by and large happier and more productive, with 67% indicating that they prefer to govern their own surrounds. Of course existing in isolation comes with its downsides, but thanks to technological developments like Skype, employees can still be made to feel part of a team and be efficiently managed even if they’re not all in close physical proximity to one another.
And businesses are quickly starting to see the upside to the situation, with many having abandoned their office spaces entirely in favour of a completely remote environment. And while this is perhaps an extreme approach to at-home working (and could certainly backfire if not implemented very carefully), it definitely has its share of real business benefits.
But easy does it – we’re not suggesting you shunt your employees out the door and toss your office furniture on the scrap heap just yet. However, we WILL tell you some of the reasons why giving your employees the freedom to work remotely could revolutionise your business. Here are our top 5:
By offering your workforce a greater degree of flexibility, you’ll save them both time and money, reducing their overall commuting spend and affording them the chance to enjoy a greater degree of work/life balance. You’ll save them from having to rush around doing their administrative tasks over the weekend, and give them the freedom to watch their kids’ soccer games in the afternoons. Studies have shown that this greater degree of flexibility reduces employee stress by more than 50%, and you can expect this improved morale to pay dividends for your business.
Happier employees also tend to be a whole lot healthier – in fact, studies show that remote workers fare better in almost every category than their office-bound counterparts. 45% are getting more sleep, 35% are getting more exercise and 42% are eating healthier. Yep, the results that many businesses look to achieve by implementing complex and costly wellness programmes can be attained simply by affording employees more time to look after themselves.
Sure, there’ll be times when your remote employees sneak in a little TV time, pop out for an unnecessarily long lunch or sleep in a little late. But these lost hours are a drop in the ocean compared to the productivity time you’ll gain in exchange. You’ll save plenty of working hours simply by cutting out the hassle of the daily commute, and by offering flexibility, you’ll allow those night owls and early birds to get on with things when they’re most focused. A whopping 77% of remote workers feel themselves to be more productive when working from home – just think of the ways in which that added output could bolster your business over time!
Finding top talent can be a very challenging undertaking, especially when you’re looking for candidates to fulfill very specialised roles. But remote working allows you to eliminate one key hindrance when it comes to finding the best and the brightest – geography. Thanks to technology, you can now interview and hire new employees just about anywhere in the world, significantly expanding your potential talent pool and allowing you to tap into resources you might never otherwise have been able to access. All your new starters need is a good Internet connection and they’re good to go.
How much is that office costing you every month? What about coffee, stationery and parking spaces? All these costly overheads can be dramatically reduced simply by adopting a remote working system. Not to mention the fact that a happier, healthier workforce is less prone to absenteeism and far likelier to go the distance with your enterprise, which can save you even more in the long run.