We are all experiencing a disruption in our “normal” routines and this includes going into the office. Tech giants like Google announced that their employees may work from home for the foreseeable future. Generally, we see working from home as an added benefit for the employee; there are unexpected benefits that employers are currently reaping from the transition to a remote workforce.
How Does Remote Workforce Save Companies Money?
There is an actual cost saving to the increased productivity employees have at home. In the event of a car break down, a sick child, or a snowstorm, employees would generally take a personal or sick day. This is a whole day of productivity lost. According to PGI, an absentee employee can cost upwards of $3,600 in lost productivity per day. The remote workforce is able to avoid that cost by simply being at home. Employees can attend to the demands of their day without incurring an absentee cost to their employer. Sick employees can continue to work without infecting others. Remote workers can also start their day earlier when there is no commute to the office.
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Are You Less Productive Working at Home?
In 2010, a study was conducted over 10 months by a Stanford University economics professor on a 16,000-employee Chinese firm called CTrip.com. It evaluated the productivity of call-center employees working remotely to the traditional cubical worker. Those who worked from home saw a 13% increase in productivity. Those same workers also reported higher work satisfaction. “An analysis showed (home workers) answered more calls and worked more hours because they took shorter breaks and used less sick leave.”
Other studies and independent surveys also concluded that employees who work remotely are more productive than their in-office counterparts. In 2015, CoSo Cloud surveyed their remote workforce and found that 77% of them reported greater productivity. AT&T studied its remote workforce and found they worked 5 hours more than their in-office counterparts. It seems counterintuitive but without the distraction of talkative colleagues, remote workers can focus and accomplish more in less time.
Saving Costs on Employee Relocation
Remote working positions create savings in the form of relocation. You may have an excellent candidate in Portland, but your business is located in Omaha. Nortel estimated that they saved $100,000 per remote worker by not needing to pay for relocation.
Schedules for remote workers tend to be more flexible, allowing for breaks when needed. The flexibility also allows workers to be productive well past normal working hours. This is especially helpful for companies with businesses all over the nation and the world.
The Ease of Remote Collaboration
Virtual meetings are another surprising time saver. Virtual meetings are often carried out in a timely fashion, creating time savings because there is no meeting room to book and assemble in. Simply send a meeting link and log in at the scheduled time and keep on task.
Screen-sharing, webinars, phone calls, and chats are all housed in platforms like Zoom and GoTo Meeting. The shift from in-office collaboration to remote collaboration has been made easier with tools such as these. The widespread availability of these collaboration tools allows for constant contact and updates. Tools and platforms that promote contact, communication, and accountability ease the transition to remote working.
With the wide-spread usage of collaborative tools, we are more prepared as a society to continue working in the event of a pandemic or emergency. We are already equipped to carry on with business as usual with a few pieces of hardware and multitudes of software. As long as there is power and Wi-Fi, the business can continue.
Overhead Cost Savings
While there are productivity benefits of having your team all in one place, there are overhead costs savings too. Think about your expenses for rent, utilities, and supplies for the office. That all can be eliminated with a remote workforce. American Express is just one example of going remote. They saved an estimated $10-$15 million on real estate costs. On the other hand, your company may adopt a hybrid office and work from home approach, which in effect could double your overhead costs. Many businesses are seeing this now as they extend work from home stipends to employees while still paying rent for an empty office.
Managing Your Team Remotely
To create an atmosphere of trust and culpability, build in accountability with check-ins, create shareable task lists, and block off time for breaks. Prioritize documentation and clear communication amongst the team. Policies surrounding remote work should be based on what delivers the best results and not employee preferences.
Even though remote work isn’t a new trend, many companies are still figuring out how to work remotely through trial and error, finding work-life balance and productivity along the way. For both employees and employers, remote working can definitely be a win/win.