The Benefits for Companies to Hire Remote Workers
The business world is undergoing a process of digitalization, demanding a new pool of tech-savvy employees. New global trends are moving the needle away from traditional best practices that one might find in the average office environment.
With these changes being implemented worldwide, the necessity to manage employees in-office is diminishing. In fact, there is growing research that supports the teleworking community and the benefits of working from home.
There is no doubt that most employees would choose to work remotely with the right technical training available to them. Making the same argument to an old school employer, though, might be a little bit more challenging.
The Issue of Fairness
A company needs to determine its specific business needs before it can decide what best practices are in its industry. Clearly, any type of position that involves manual labor or the physical presence of a human (like a security guard) will never offer telecommuting as an option.
An employer might be hesitant to let even some of their employees work remotely because of the message it will send to the rest of the office. A company’s security guard won’t have the same opportunity as the company’s cyber-security specialist, even though they are essentially performing the same job function.
One is protecting a business’ physical property from outside harm, while the other is taking preventative action in the digital world. It might not seem fair to the employees or their supervisor to make an exception for one person when the other person doesn’t have the same work flexibility.
Trustworthiness is another common argument against letting the workforce go remote. In an office environment, employees can be supervised as closely and frequently as desired by the employer. Keeping everyone in the same physical location is a form of risk mitigation, because it seldom allows anyone to slip through the cracks.
It is much harder to verify what a remote worker is actually doing at any given moment. Breaching their personal space might be considered an invasion of privacy, even if they are technically on the clock. People who work from home are granted substantially more freedom than their in-office counterparts, which leads us to their perceived level of productivity.
Remote Workers are the Next Big Achievers
Older generations tend to assume that working from home will breed laziness. In actuality, most research suggests that telecommuting makes people more productive. Think about how much time and energy goes in to a morning routine, from the minute you wake up to when you actually sit down at your desk.
You have to plan your day, get ready, take care of any children or pets at the house, and – the worst part of the day – you have to commute. For some people, this can mean spending an additional two or three hours on the road that doesn’t actually factor into a full “work day.” So much for that 9 to 5 schedule you were promised.
Millennials are becoming increasingly concerned with work-life balance. Since this generation will drive the business world into the future, employers should consider adapting their policies to be more compatible with younger talent. Don’t get it twisted: Millennials aren’t lazy, they are realistic.
Though their educational and real-world experiences, they are starting to understand that offices are less relevant to the average business model. They’re becoming masters in social media, cloud-based services, teleconferencing, and on-the-go communication. They are dominating the internet on their smartphones, with no help from the office environment that they are confined to.
Why Should Employers Budge?
There are many added bonuses to telecommuting for an employee. Eliminating an undesirable commute and allowing the worker to be more productive is at the forefront. Going into an office every day takes away valuable time that could be spent getting more work done.
For example, someone working remotely is less likely to allocate an hour of their day to lunch, because they are already at home. Instead of leaving a project unfinished and losing their train of thought, the employee can pause and resume work as they deem fit. A lunch break can be broken down into five or ten-minute increments to maximize overall focus.
Additionally, a lot of time is wasted trying to handle personal appointments and sick days with a restrictive schedule. People who are locked into a 9 to 5 workday are required to take time off when life decides to happen.
By adding in this extra flexibility, telecommuters can tend to their personal affairs without having to sacrifice any of their accrued time off. When an employee falls ill, it isn’t always necessary to spend the day in isolation but the policy is usually “better safe than sorry.”
If you remove the office setting and the potential to spread an illness, workers don’t have to abide by an all-or-nothing sick leave policy.
When employees are given the option to work remotely, their overall quality of life increases. They are able to work at their own pace, uphold personal obligations, and separate themselves from unwanted distractions. Office environments create a lot of potential for interruptions throughout the day, like time-consuming meetings or chatty colleagues.
There is no guarantee that an individual will be free of distractions at home, especially if they are sharing the house with loved ones. However, this person can always choose to change their environment by going to a nearby Starbucks or local library. If you’re confined to a single workspace, it can be much harder to work around the commotion.
According to Global Workplace Analytics, having a telecommuting option leads to lower attrition rates because employees consider it a valuable work perk. It can allegedly cost a company $10,000 to $30,000 when it loses a valuable employee. Companies who allow remote work are ultimately making a long-term investment in the company through employee retention.
There is no proven formula to how much telecommuting should be allowed. The needs of every business will vary, based on the type of industry, size of the workforce, and its dependence on technology. The good news is that employers don’t have to make a firm choice between having their employees be physically present or working remotely.
Business owners are diligently working to become mobile-friendly because of growing demand, but you don’t see any of them abandoning their websites. Positions do not have to be based solely around telecommuting – the percent of work done at home can be evaluated over time.
It’s just a hunch, but something tells me that telecommuting will become universally accepted as a business norm. The future workforce will live much happier and healthier lives as a result of this added flexibility and freedom.
Millennials and next generations will approach the new world with a sense of independence, free from micromanagement and potentially hostile work environments.