Remote Work: Is it Working for Your Company?

If remote work is feasible for your business, it may be worthwhile to continue it even after COVID-19 has passed.

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What employees and employers want from each other — and the impact of remote work on both

Your employees have been asking to work from home for years, but you had concerns. Would they be as productive? How do you manage distributed teams? Will quality be impacted? But COVID-19 has thrust many companies into working from home, whether they were ready for it or not.

The technology, fortunately, has been in place to make remote work feasible.

While we’re getting up to speed on the etiquette of online meetings, working to keep kids and pets at bay during conference calls, and creating designated work areas, most businesses and workers have been able to transition successfully.

The question for many companies, after the threat of the pandemic has ended, will be whether or not to continue remote work.

What do employees want?

Employees want at least the option to work remotely some or all of the time. A recent Indeed survey of 500 employees found:

  • More than half of employees want to work from home
  • For those who already do, 75% say remote work has improved their work/life balance
  • More than half reported remote work reduced stress, absences, and sick day use
  • 40% admitted they would even take a cut in pay to be able to work remotely

What do employers want?

Without water cooler chats, social niceties, and interruptions, employees may reap better focus and productivity levels.

Business owners want their employees to produce: it’s that simple. They worry remote work is difficult to supervise, and that productivity will go down. But data suggests the opposite may be true. The same Indeed study found 57% of workers believe they are more productive when working remotely. This could be attributed to fewer distractions. Without water cooler chats, social niceties, and interruptions, employees may reap better focus and productivity levels. And don’t forget the reduction in office gossip and intrigue.

If productivity and quality are unaffected, the case for keeping remote work from the employee perspective may be sound. But there are other benefits to business owners you may not have considered.

Remote work saves the company money – who knew?

According to an estimate by Global Workplace Analytics (GWA), employers can save up to $11,000 per year per half-time telecommuter.

SMBs aren’t going to be seeing their rent or mortgage payments coming down when their employees work from home, but other payments are going to be much smaller from the practice. Utility bills — heat, electric, and water — along with phone bills will be reduced. Other turnkey costs: coffee, office supplies, toiletries, etc., will be lower with fewer staffers on site.

According to an estimate by Global Workplace Analytics (GWA), employers can save up to $11,000 per year per half-time telecommuter. These are savings due to factors such as an increase in productivity, lower real estate costs, and a decrease in absenteeism. And while businesses are saving on turnkey costs, employees are able to leverage tax benefits as well. Staff members may be able to deduct work-from-home expenses, like internet connections, portions of rent/mortgage, phone costs, and more.

If companies adopt a remote work dynamic, the savings can increase. HP reported a 62% reduction in real estate utilization and costs when they turned to remote work, according to the Telework: Overcoming the Obstacles report. For Microsoft, 30% more staffers were onboarded with the same amount of office space. Best Buy and Dow reported a 35% increase in productivity.

Remote workers reduce costs too

GWA’s study also found significant savings for employees who work from home. The study estimates that employees may save on costs — between $2,500 and $4,000 per year — even if they work remotely only half the time. It also found for most workers, even half-time telework saves them the equivalent of 11 work days they would otherwise spend commuting. For those who don’t have access to public transportation, the cost of gas, tolls, and vehicle maintenance are also reduced.

The study estimates that employees may save on costs — between $2,500 and $4,000 per year — even if they work remotely only half the time.

The cost of lunches, dry cleaning, and other workplace expenses were also lower for remote staffers. The same study found almost three-quarters of workers report they eat healthier when working from home. Even if staff members find meal bargains for lunch, on average they can save $20 a week on food costs working from home.

WFH Environmental impact

If you’ve been thinking of ways to go green, a remote workforce — even part-time — may be the answer. In addition to savings on gas for employees, reduced traffic may result in improved air quality and a lesser burden on transportation infrastructure. You may see fewer deliveries to the office as well, boosting green efforts.

Even more remote work benefits

In addition to easily measurable cost savings, employers who responded to the Indeed study found there are hidden benefits to allowing employees to telework. They found:

  • 57% of staffers reported an increase in morale
  • Turnover was reduced by more than 50% as was absenteeism
  • The results also netted more than 30% reduction in health insurance costs

A study of 3,000 respondents by FlexJobs also found 76% of workers would have more loyalty to their company if they had flexible work options.

As we look at slowing the spread of COVID-19, its lessons could be long term. As this pandemic illustrates, close contact can result in illness. Employees who work from home aren’t spreading their germs to others, reducing the amount of illness spread throughout a company.

5% to 20% of Americans get the flu every year, with one estimate putting over 2.5 million medical visits associated with the illness. The cost to businesses is about 17 million sick days paid at $7 billion annually. Remote workers stop the spread of common diseases in their tracks.

Employees who work from home aren’t spreading their germs to others, reducing the amount of illness spread throughout a company.

Returning to work, but staying at home

When the shutdowns finally end, many organizations would do well to consider continuing the remote work model the pandemic has imposed. If productivity hasn’t been impacted, it might be a good idea to survey employees on whether or not they’re interested in continuing to work from home, even part-time.

SMBs could find cost savings have already begun and even more can be realized. Do you actually need that much office space? If employees work from home you may be able to lower rent costs or even eliminate them. Where will you hold those monthly meetings? If virtual meetings won’t work, local conference centers may be less expensive than holding on to unused office space.

The pandemic has given SMBs a lot to consider. If your employees want it, work well with it, and it can help reduce costs, remote work after COVID-19 is worth a lot of consideration.

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