When the COVID-19 pandemic took us all by storm, it forced many businesses to suddenly move from a shared office space to a remote one. Prior to COVID-19, many businesses offered a remote work option for their employees either as a performance incentive or as a flexible work option. This was thought to be the norm until early 2020 when many businesses had to quickly find ways to move the majority (if not all) of their employees to a remote office space.
As businesses now evaluate (and reevaluate) their worker re-entry plans and timelines, our priority as leaders is to keep our teams safe. However, beyond the benefits of social distancing, a remote workforce comes with additional advantages that can impact employee productivity and employee welfare for the better.
That is not to say there aren’t benefits to bringing your workforce back together in a shared office setting, because there certainly are, but when deciding whether or not to keep your team working remotely or returning them safely to the office, these commonly overlooked benefits of having a remote team can help leaders make decisions that are best for their organization.
Having a better understanding of the benefits associated with a remote team can help leaders make decisions that are best for their businesses
According to Gallup Poll, 54% of office workers say they'd leave their job for one that offers flexible work time.
When you are working in an office, you are in “work mode” until you leave the building. Working from home allows a certain level of flexibility to employees where they can take breaks or extended lunches and still complete their work for the day.
This is certainly something that helps when there are personal matters that modern professionals find themselves managing. With a remote work structure, employees can “log off” to tend to a personal matter, and log back in at a later time and complete their daily tasks.
We all have busy lives, personally and professionally. All of us understand the importance of streamlining our routines to free up more time. The average US commute is nearly an hour per day. That extra hour gained by a remote employee adds up fast –not to mention that that hour is usually spent commuting through frustrating rush hour traffic. Reducing the number of days required to work in the office can lower the burden on your employee’s wallets, their vehicles, and their overall stress levels.
If you are a business that subsidizes your team’s commuting expenses (public transportation, parking, etc.), these savings will also impact your bottom line.
Savings associated with working from home don’t just stop at gas and public transportation costs. Most of us have a work wardrobe that we need to update and maintain. These expenses (dry cleaning, tailoring, etc.) can be costly. Working from home provides professionals the ability to expand their work attire to a more casual and comfortable wardrobe selection.
However you slice it, working remotely puts money back in the pockets of your employees.
Between our personal lives and professional lives, we are all constantly spinning plates. Rushing from work to get to daycare to pick up/ drop off kids and trying to make it to your child’s sporting event on time can be stressful.
Today, those stressors of managing a family, a full-time job, senior care, and e-learning, etc. are pushing some to their breaking point. When you allow your team to work from home that (semi)flexible work schedule can provide those on your team some much-needed breathing room.
Happy employees lead to higher engagement levels in the workplace. Decades of Gallup research show when employees are engaged, their performance soars: Highly engaged workplaces can claim 41% lower absenteeism, 40% fewer quality defects, and 21% higher profitability.
If you, as a leader, are in a position to alleviate or reduce the stressors that ultimately lead to lower engagement rates, your company’s productivity and employee retention will be better for it.
Reduction of Operational and Facility Costs
Outside of employee payroll, one of the most significant costs on a company’s P&L is facilities and operational expenses. By decreasing the number of employees working in a physical workspace, businesses can decrease their real estate and operational costs. Utilities, office supplies, cleaning, and security costs are all affected by the size of your office space and can be reduced by having a smaller worksite.
Less Office Gossip
Let’s face it, office gossip and workplace drama exist in some capacity at virtually every business. The more people you have physically working together, the more opportunity there is for this destructive dialogue to persist and the faster it can spread throughout your team.
When your team works remotely, every conversation must be initiated with intent. This means your remote employees are more likely to keep the conversation positive and less likely to engage in conversations that can harm your company’s culture.
Better Talent Pool
When your team can work from anywhere, this means you can now hire talent everywhere. Remote work widens the radius of your talent search and gives employers the advantage to staff top talent from multiple geographic regions. When your team is staffed with high performers, you’re laying the foundation for increased productivity, company culture, employee retention, and, ultimately, corporate growth.
Reducing the number of people who commute to the office each day lowers the eco-footprint your business leaves on the community and the world at large. Although this particular benefit doesn’t directly impact things like productivity or employee welfare, your business’ brand benefits from recognizing the global community and its space within it; this self-awareness can contribute positively to your organization’s branding and corporate growth, long-term.
Businesses come in all shapes and sizes. Understandably, not all companies can offer a remote work structure to their employees. As business leaders, we are obligated to act in the best interests of our companies as a whole.
Having a better understanding of the benefits associated with leading a remote team can help us make a decision that is best for our individual businesses, and, for some teams, the decision to keep your team working remotely in a more permanent capacity may be the first step to increasing your bottom line.