Hands up those of you who would change to a lower paid job if it gave you the opportunity to work from home?
If you’re in the ‘yes’ camp, you’re not alone. In the latest Cezanne HR industry survey, almost 40 percent of people questioned in the UK said they would be willing to sacrifice salary for more freedom to choose where to work; one third of French respondents and a quarter of Italians also giving the thumbs up to remote working.
Regular telecommuting has also been a growing topic and trend in the United States with statistics showing a 73% growth from 2005-2011. Global Workplace Analytics and Telework Research Network both estimate that between 20 and 30 million American employees work from home at least one day a week.
It would be interesting to know how these figures compare to the number of employers who would welcome more widespread use of home-working. The concept has been enthusiastically embraced by some and famously rejected buy others (Yahoo & Best Buy).
So for those who are still skeptical, what are the advantages of letting more of your people work from home—and how can you ensure it’s successful?
It Helps You Build a More Flexible Workforce
There will always be companies whose operations revolve around having people on site during work hours. Advances in technology have, however, led to a more fluid business environment where clients and consumers expect to be able to access services or contact suppliers beyond the confines of the traditional 9-5 day. Companies who enable home working are often more able to offer a more flexible service to their clients, over extended hours. People are more likely to be willing to deal with clients in different time zones, or to cover the early shift on the phones, for example, if they can do it without having to bring a commute or car journey into the equation.
It Helps You Retain Key Talent
The job market is the most active it has been for some years, and companies are struggling to hold onto their best people (see last week’s blog). A more flexible approach to work can sometimes make the difference between whether someone stays or goes. Home-working gives employees the opportunity to balance personal and work life more effectively. It’s not just an issue for working mothers or those with caring responsibilities. Employees without family commitments are often equally keen to manage their working life in a more flexible manner; in fact, according to World at Work, typical teleworkers are 40-year-old male professionals.
Your People Will be More Productive
A study from Stanford University has found that working from home can increase productivity by 13%!
The CEO of JALA International, Jack Nilles, has said that teleworking allows employees to be more creative and productive; probably because those who work in an office are typically interrupted every 10 to 15 minutes. Allowing people to work from home—even if it’s only for part of the week—means they can focus on key tasks and are likely to be fresher and less stressed without the daily battle to get into work.
Improved Performance Leads to Increased Revenue
There are many clear savings to be made in moving to a culture where home-working is the norm; you can cut down on office space, utility bills, make more efficient use of resources, in general. But, what’s less obvious is that employees who are working from home are less likely to take sick days; have reduced break times and requested vacation days. This could be due, in part, to a reduction in stress, which then also leads to a reduced turnover rate.
It Encourages People to Utilize Technology
Technology to enable effective home-working has advanced enormously in recent years and now it’s possible for people to work pretty much anywhere. The cost of the latest software solutions has also come down significantly, putting state-of-the-art communication solutions in the reach of even the smallest of organizations. The latest generations of HR solutions offer self-service options which allow employers to manage their own personal data, access key documents, book holidays and record absences online. Many HR systems also come with integral social portals which allow people to get quick answers to questions, collaborate on projects and interact with their peers. People who are home based need to learn how to fully integrate these tools into their working in order to do their job effectively.
Reaping these advantages does, of course, rely on home-working arrangements being effectively managed. See next week’s blog for our top tips on making sure your remote workers are successful.