Remote work is both blossoming in growth and being pruned back because some companies are struggling to make it work. A quick search online gives readers both encouraging and discouraging news on the subject. So, that makes us all wonder what we should think about remote work. Do you need a recruiting advantage? Recruiteze is here to help! Start your free trial of our awesome recruiting system today.
The Controversy Around Remote Work
According to FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics, 3.9 million US workers, or around 3% of the US workforce, work from home at least as often as they work in the office. Some work exclusively from home. Remote work, or telecommuting, saw a 115% increase in the last decade, an amount that FlexJobs reports is 10 times higher than the traditional workforce.
Businesses have been viewing remote work as the answer to improve workplace satisfaction, productivity, and the bottom line for employers and employees. For instance, in 2009, 40% of IBM’s employees worked remotely. But as the biggest employers dove headlong into remote work, some of them became disenchanted and began backtracking.
Yahoo became a bit infamous in 2013 when their new CEO made the decision to greatly reduce the number of remote workers at the company, forcing them to decide whether to start working in the office or get another job.
IBM, who once pioneered the remote work boom, began regrouping this year. This is guaranteed to make other companies question their stand on remote work. If IBM doesn’t believe in the power of remote work anymore, should the rest of us?
The answer is, that depends. We can’t make remote work that black and white. It isn’t whether remote work is the great hope or a big mistake, but whether it is right for a specific business’ goals and how best to implement it.
Remote Work Saves Employees and Employers Money
Employers save themselves money by using remote workers in several ways.
The first and most obvious one boils down to less expense on running offices for employees. Companies can have smaller offices or fewer offices and save a bundle.
The less obvious, but nonetheless important, way that remote work saves employers money comes as a by-product of the work-life-balance that remote work provides. They don’t need as much vacation time and other employee perks to make up for how draining the job is because the freer work-life balance that remote work provides inherently lessens that drain.
Employees save themselves money in work-related costs associated with commuting, eating, and meeting dress codes. They can cut out huge gas expenses, food costs from eating lunch out, expensive clothing purchases, and dry cleaning bills.
CNN Money reports that remote work saves employees more than $4,000 each year, almost as if they had worked an extra 11 days, while employers save themselves $11,000 a year by allowing employees to work from home half of the time.
Remote Work Helps Employers Meet Goals
Promoting remote work can help employers meet many coveted goals.
Sustainability initiatives can be improved because employees commute less or not-at-all, buying less gas, producing less emissions, and thereby reducing the company’s indirect environmental footprint.
Employees can be hired from all over the globe, providing access to more high quality talent.
Andy Mattes of Diebold told Huffingpost how he used remote work to address a need to improve access to the best talent. The company previously had a policy of only hiring locally, but that was too limiting. “We wanted the brightest people on the planet,” he related, “We were fishing in a small fishing pond.” When he opened to the door to telecommuting, and therefore, qualified employees from anywhere in the world, he attracted, “a ‘who’s who’ of the tech industry.”
Remote work helps companies hire more parents, broadening their access to talent and helping them reach gender equality initiatives. Today’s workforce is made up largely of single parents and families where both parents work. A flexible work schedule and a healthier work-life-balance often makes or breaks these candidates’ decision to work for a company.
Companies looking to improve their retention rates might consider remote work as remote workers quit half as frequently as in-office workers.
Remote workers laboring on a different schedule than the office can provide better service to customers as they may be available when the office isn’t open. Also, remote workers in other countries can often better serve customers in those and surrounding countries because of time and cultural considerations. If you need help with your recruiting efforts then check out our free recruiting system. Recruiteze is free. Click here to give it a try.
Remote Work Improves Work Satisfaction
Employee wellness and satisfaction are crucial to engagement and productivity. You know how people tell us that children learn better in school when they have a better breakfast in the morning? Employees are the same. The more healthily they can eat and sleep and the less stress they are under, the better work they can provide for your business. You must think about your employees’ health and satisfaction these days to run a competitive and thriving business. Remote work presents a significant opportunity to improve your employees’ health and satisfaction.
Remote workers stress less over matters at home that need looking after. They can schedule appointments, make time for family members’ needs, and make time for their for own mental and physical needs.
Remote Work Is Excellent for Productivity
Cisco, a major user of remote talent, has reported that they have saved millions in productivity costs. This report has been backed up by a study performed by Stanford and Peking Universities using a Chinese travel agency, in which they determined that remote workers were significantly more productive than their in-office workers, providing almost an extra whole day of work per week in productivity.
There are many explanations for this productivity increase. For one, employees have a better work-life balance and therefore don’t get sick as often or need as many vacations. Their lives are better, and they are healthier year-round, so they don’t need as much time off to compensate for the strain.
Seemingly contradictorily, remote workers often put in significantly more work hours than their in-office counterparts. They check emails, conduct correspondence, and visit their virtual workstation all throughout the day and even on weekends and holidays. Some of this is a natural byproduct of having a less obvious work-home divide and some of it comes from employers expecting employees to work harder at home.
Remote workers are also more likely to have better equipment. They only have to buy for one, and they buy what they want, whereas employers must provide equipment for many employees and often keep equipment that is slow and nerve-wracking, reducing employees’ productivity.
Remote Workers Are Not as Productive
Yes, that is the exact opposite of the last section, so don’t waste time trying to figure out if it’s a mistake. While remote work does provide unique advantages in productivity, if not done wisely, remote work can lead to poor productivity.
The internet and mobile devices are highly addictive and when one works on them all day and has an indistinct work-life divide, time-wastage can occur quite easily and be hard to eradicate. Remote workers could struggle with their individual productivity because it is too easy to get distracted by the internet, but this is also a major problem with in-office jobs where people work on computers or devices all day. Any job where employees have low motivation, whether remote or in the office, will see this problem.
Remote work gives employees a unique opportunity to “call in sick” or otherwise in need of being at home. Workers get used to being at home and being able to take care of things and might begin to consciously or unconsciously overuse the privilege. This was the main reason Yahoo’s CEO gave for deciding to reign back in the company’s remote work policies. When employees can work in the office and out of the office, sometimes the balance of work becomes skewed in a way no one really intends, and teamwork, projects, and shared workloads suffer. To be productive in your hiring efforts, give our free recruiting system a try. Recruiteze is number one for a reason. Keep reading to learn more.
Remote Work Hinders Creativity and Innovation
The main drawback companies are finding with remote work is a hindrance in creativity. It takes the right kind of nurturing, engaging, and often collaborative environment to achieve the kind of creativity that many companies now seek, and companies are struggling to make it happen in remote work.
IBM’s CMO Michelle Peluso has described her formula for success that included tools, nurturing, monitoring, and an emphasis on location. She also explained, “We don’t have time for innovation to happen in six-months campaigns. The pace of it all, and the changing nature of work—I think that has changed a lot in the past five years.”
Remote work offers particular benefits and presents unique complications. It is neither inherently good nor bad, success lies in its application and the way it’s managed. Read Part 2 to learn more about who needs remote workers and how to manage them.
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