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Our recent blog post, 29 Stats That Prove End User Computing is Changing, spent a lot of time documenting the clear and accelerating shift toward remote workforces. Statistics like:
These stats clearly illustrate workforce trends that shouldn’t be ignored by employers. Luckily for companies, there are well-documented upsides for the bottom line. While on the surface the change may present challenges (and it certainly does, more on that later), it also opens up a broad range of possibilities that can ultimately benefit the business.
Access to talent is a growing concern for many organizations, particularly within IT. Whether it’s being able to find candidates with the right expertise or enticing them to stay with the company, the ability to support remote workers can make all the difference.
Organizations that don’t shy away from remote workers and work at home situations drastically broaden their hiring pool. With remote working, companies can hire the most qualified people to fill critical roles whether those candidates are 20 minutes down the road or several time zones away. Organizations are no longer bound to a limited geographic area when looking for candidates with the right qualifications, experience or expertise. Nor will they find themselves among that 54% of HR managers that lose out on the best candidates because they can’t accommodate a request to work remotely.
Allowing for remote working can also help retain that talent. An amazing 95% of companies that embrace teleworking report that it has had a positive impact on employee retention. Additionally, 36% of employees say they would take the chance to work remotely over a pay raise. These statistics aren’t surprising considering 88% of companies have lost employees over the lack of telecommuting opportunities – it’s clearly an increasingly valuable benefit to employees.
The ability to work remote can help businesses attract new young talent as well. According to a 2015 survey, 68% of young job seekers say a company would be more attractive if it offered the option to work remotely.
It turns out that those beliefs are true. A survey of U.S. companies found that 83% of organizations that have implemented flexible work policies have seen an increase in employee productivity. A survey of workers finds that 77% report being more productive while working off-site, 30% accomplish more in less time and 24% say they accomplish more in the same amount of time.
Whether it’s simply being able to work at home occasionally or making remote working the daily norm, workplace flexibility is leading to productivity gains for organizations.
One of the reasons remote workers report being more productive is that they’re dedicating more hours to work than in-office employees.
Inc. reported that 23% of remote employees are willing to work longer hours in order to accomplish more while Entrepreneur reported that 53% of remote workers are more likely to work overtime (compared to 28% of on-site employees).
Working at home also allows employees to work at times they wouldn’t normally be in the office, like when they’re sick. The Inc. article found that 52% of remote employees say they are less likely to take time off, even when sick.
This one isn’t hard to figure out: fewer employees that work from the office means smaller office space is needed. Real estate costs are a major line item for almost all businesses, and that cost increases when you factor in the auxiliary expenses of an office, such as utilities, upkeep, supplies, etc.
When employees work remotely, they are responsible for their space and all the utilities needed to keep them up and running. If the organization adopts a BYOD (bring your own device) model, corporate overhead is further reduced as remote employees are working on the devices they already own (and bought with their own money).
One study found that the real estate savings alone is roughly $10,000 per remote employee each year. The same study found that the average business can save up to $11,000 per employee annually (or around $700 billion a year) simply by allowing for part time telecommuting.
For companies interested in cutting costs, those numbers should be enticing enough to at least begin considering a work at home policy or opening up hiring to remote employees.
Companies aren’t the only ones that benefit from allowing employees to work at home. The remote employees themselves receive benefits and resoundingly report a better work-life balance. The benefits for remote employees range from healthier living to saving money:
The shift toward more remote working is driven partially by a changing global economy and an increasingly challenging search for talent, but it’s also being driven by workers who want to get away from the grind and enjoy life while still feeling satisfied by their career. In our “always on, always connected” world where many people bring work home with them after hours anyway, today’s workforce understands that they don’t necessarily need to be in an office to get work done.
While many companies may be afraid of allowing remote working because of a perceived lack of control or an imagined fear of employees slacking off on company time, studies clearly show that allowing for remote working results in exactly the opposite. Productivity and time spent on work activities actually increase in many cases. Plus, organizations have an easier time accessing top talent, attracting the workers of the future and retaining happy employees.
There are certainly benefits to having on-site employees, but businesses would be doing themselves a disservice if they flat-out ignore the on-going shift toward remote working. Not only could they find themselves on the wrong side of a workforce trend and trying to play catch-up, they could be missing out on very real business benefits that result in tangible results and a competitive advantage.
This approach does represent a fairly large departure from the way many organizations – especially long-standing enterprises – have historically done business. That means organizations should take the time to assess the downstream effects of this new work model before going all in.
Not having employees in-house and allowing them to use their own computers and smartphones widens the scope of organizational risk and can make it harder to achieve compliance in some cases. Smart companies will consider all the implications of embracing remote workers – good and bad – and form an action plan before shifting to a more remote workforce. In some cases, new solutions, policies and procedures may need to be put in place before the organization begins bringing on more contractors or remote workers.
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