Remote working is on the rise, being seen as an increasingly attractive option by both employers and employees for a number of reasons. According to a recent report regarding remote working hours conducted by Flexjobs, around 3.9 million workers in the US opt to work from home a minimum of 2-3 days per week.
Remote working has always been a staple of the startup scene and is one reason why millennial workers often prefer startups over large corporations. Big corporations are also beginning to understand the benefits of working remotely, however. Working from home appeals to workers due to the greater flexibility of working hours, the comfort of working where they choose, and work-life balance this affords them.
Increased productivity is observed when working remotely, and this is a major advantage for employers among the many benefits of remote working. This fact is perhaps surprising for some, but remote working has been shown to enhance productivity and as such companies are rapidly adopting remote working practices.
The following sheds light on the various ways remote working is enhancing productivity.
Less Time and Energy Spent Commuting
Presuming remote working implies working from home, or close to home, time spent commuting to and from the office is significantly reduced if not totally eliminated. The worker consequently spends this time adding value to the business, and thus increases productivity. When taking into account the time and effort spent to look presentable for an office environment, remote working can save a total of 1-2 hours per day per employee.
A long and overcrowded train journey can leave employees drained, and circumventing this by working from home further increases productivity. The energy exhausted commuting will be saved and the employee will have greater mental and physical stamina to contribute to their work.
Working remotely reduces the overall time required to get into the ‘work mindset’ as you are in a place of your choosing, and so are already in a relaxed state. This allows you to complete a greater number of tasks to a higher degree of quality and thus increases productivity.
Another advantage of remote working for employees is the flexibility to manage one’s own time. A remote worker has the liberty to work anytime and from anywhere. They are not chained to their desk for the typical 9-5 office hours and are only committed to being available to respond to company communications and complete their assigned projects within a set deadline.
Remote working presents the opportunity to manage personal and social responsibilities with work in a more holistic way. For example, an employee has to take their child to a doctors appointment. The remote worker is not limited to the fixed opening and closing hours of an office. They are able to schedule work around this commitment by allocating time outside normal office hours to completing tasks.
Greater autonomy regarding time management increases the job satisfaction of employees significantly. This motivates them to contribute to projects as they feel their needs are also being met, and contented employees are key to increased productivity for any business.
The comfort quotient
A comfortable atmosphere promotes productivity as a relaxed state of mind is critical for inspiring creativity. The flexibility to work from home allows employees to work however they feel most comfortable, without needing to appear professional. When working from home there is no formal dress code or obligation to sit in a particular manner.
Remote working affords employees control over their personal work environment, and this motivates them to want to produce their best work. This view is underscored by research from the Canada Life Group, which found that homeworkers ranked higher in productivity with a score of 7.7 out of 10 when compared to that of office workers (6.5 out of 10).
Reduces workspace stress
Office spaces commonly feature bright lights, with the aim of creating a vibrant and illuminated space. Many hours of working under these bright lights however can unknowingly increase stress levels, and a stressed employee is typically unable to maintain a constant level of productivity.
Stress can lead to conflict in the workplace as well as severe health issues, and employees cannot continue producing high-quality work under such conditions for extended periods. Remote workers do not face such problems and thus enjoy reduced stress levels associated with work.
Office politics is also prevalent in the workplace and can generate unnecessary stress among office workers. By working from home such situations can be avoided and employees can focus on their projects with a calm mind.
No Geographical Restrictions on Talent Pool
When an employer restricts themselves to a physical location, they limit their ability to recruit appropriately skilled employees. This is especially relevant when seeking an employee with a specific or niche skill that you require.
Workers with specific skills are aware of their own worth to a company, and the fact that they are scarce on the job market. As the trend towards digitization continues, workers are also aware that it is no longer a necessity to work at the company’s office and may expect to be able to work remotely.
A potential employee may not want to relocate in order to work for you, and if they do, will likely expect a substantial rise in their salary as compensation. This will either increase your outgoings on human resources or limit your talent pool considerably.
By considering remote workers, you have limitless access to workers anywhere in the world, without incurring additional expense. This enables you to build a team of skilled personnel that best suit the individual needs of your business, recruiting from anywhere in the world. This highly equipped team will reward you with increased productivity.
According to data collected by SurePayroll, 61% of employees label ‘loud colleagues’ as the biggest factor affecting their productivity. Another 86% cited working alone as crucial in maximizing productivity. This data implies that a calm distraction-free atmosphere is conducive to a focused mind and as such vital in improving productivity.
The office environment is typically full of distractions, with noisy colleagues and office politics to indulge in. Such distractions can shift focus from work-related tasks and reduce productivity levels. Working remotely removes the distractions associated with the office environment., though admittedly when working from home there are different domestic distractions and personal responsibilities to manage.
By allowing workers to determine their own schedule these distractions are mitigated by the mutual understanding that a flexible schedule still has deadlines. It is therefore the worker’s responsibility to manage their domestic liabilities without compromising their professional ones. As a result, focus and concentration are increased which invariably increases productivity.
Given the stated benefits of remote working, employers should begin to more fully embrace the trend as a realistic and practical business model. Startups have long championed the advantages of remote working culture, and recently large corporations like Philips, Amazon, Cigna and Dell have begun to experiment with the concept.
The data confirms that workers today (and especially the younger generation) prefer to work in a space of their choosing and in their own way. As more of our work moves online, the need to report to an office becomes less significant, and employees know this.
The remote working trend looks set to stay as the preferred option over a conventional physical workspace, perhaps leading to the dissolution of a need for office space in the future. Whilst the future is uncertain, employers must adapt to changes in working culture if they hope to attract the skilled labor they require to maintain a competitive edge in business.