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For many, this is their first time engaging in remote working. Under the conditions of a pandemic, however, it is no surprise that many have had a negative experience. Taking calls from your bedroom, bathroom, to your kitchen table instead of a home office; spouses and children underfoot; and blurred boundaries between when the workday starts and ends are hallmarks of pandemic home working. These point-in-time conditions, however, are unique to Covid-19 — and are not truly representative of remote working.
Remote working simply refers to the ability to do the job from any location. It does not mean working from home. Many “remote” employees not located near a main campus or site still go into a co-working space such as a We-Work or Spaces or some other designated collaboration space.
In this ideal remote environment, numerous studies have shown that remote workers are more productive than their office-bound counterparts.
Recognizing that Covid-19 has opened up our eyes to the fact that remote working works en masse, and also recognizing that the pandemic won’t last forever, what advantages could there be to transitioning to a policy that assumes the workforce will all be remote where possible, versus office-based?
The answers may surprise you.
Remote workers are more productive
It might sound counterintuitive, but research shows that remote workers are significantly more productive than employees working in offices. Countless studies support this; Global Workplace Analytics found that teleworkers were 20-25% more productive than office-based employees.
The reasons for this are:
Employees can work to their strengths. We’re all different – not everyone is at their most productive between 9 am to 5 pm. Remote working lets employees take intelligent control of their own schedule, creating routines which support productive working and compliment their lifestyle.
It can offer huge amounts of freedom and flexibility and lets employees design their ideal work environment.
It reduces business costs
It reduces office costs. Studies suggest that companies with remote workers save $10,000 per employee each year in real estate costs. You scale back the office costs of furniture, bills, cleaners and office supplies, and tend to see fewer sick, which can cost $1,800 per employee annually.
It reduces costs for employees
Hiring remote workers doesn’t just benefit employers financially – it also reduces costs for workers. The financial (and emotional!) drag of commuting is completely removed, which surveys suggest saves remote workers about $5,000 per year. And that’s without factoring in the cost of regularly buying lunch out!
However, it’s important to recognize the hidden costs of remote working. Electricity, gas, phone bills and equipment tied to work should all be reimbursed – either as expenses or via their salary.
Here is one more reason as a bonus.
We live in an age of heightened environmental awareness, and businesses are increasingly called upon to introduce greener strategies into their operations. With that in mind, it’s important to consider the environmental benefits of working remotely. Research suggests that if employees with remote-compatible jobs worked from home even half the time, annually our environment would be spared:
Key milestones in the employee experience, such as onboarding or getting to know your immediate team, were largely taken for granted in the past. Onboarding was usually a half-day in a room listening to the history of the company, a culture overview, and being told about your benefits package. Getting to know your team assumed that proximity would equal closeness.
Shifting to remote-first is not a two-way door. At some point, you get too far down the line to go back. But the question businesses should be asking is: do we want to go back?