While businesses across the globe are increasingly waking up to the benefits of flexible working, including allowing staff to work mostly – or entirely – from home, there are still some countries and industries where the practice is far less commonplace than others. This is despite the fact that the same business benefits are available across a wide range of industries globally, including a broader talent pool and a happier, more engaged and more productive workforce.
This has been underlined by a wide range of studies, including research from the conference call business PowWowNow, for instance, which found that over half of employees (58%) believed they would be more motivated if they could work away from home
Despite this, Eurostat research shows only 2.8% of employees in the EU (excluding the self-employed) ‘usually’ work from home. That number is on the rise, however, with the data also showing that 9.6% of employees ‘sometimes’ work from home, up from 7.7% in 2008.
For this article, we caught up with Olga Heymann, EMEA HR Director at Stefanini, to explore why it’s in many businesses’ interests to embrace remote working more readily, and discussed the benefits this can offer to companies and employees alike.
Here are just two key benefits businesses can realize through a better approach to remote working.
Broader talent pool
Any business that requires employees with specialist technical skills will recognize the importance of hiring from the broadest possible talent pool.
At Stefanini, where the quality of service we provide is so heavily dependent on the expertise of our people, greater access to talent has been a vital benefit of our working from home policy.
Olga explains: “A key reason we’re able to consistently deliver the people with the perfect skills for the job at hand is because of our working from home policy.”
“We’re hiring based solely on who has the most relevant skills and experience. This means the fact that they can’t make it to a certain location – whether because of family commitments or because they live in a different city, or even a different country – is no barrier to them working for Stefanini. It’s a true win-win in which they get a flexible working environment tailored around their lives, we get to draw on a highly specialized diverse talent pool, while our clients get the perfect people for the job,” adds Olga.
This works particularly well because the type of work Stefanini carries out is perfectly suited to employees working remotely. “In particular our near-shore services form a significant part of our business, which means we have already developed a culture and invested in infrastructure that supports effective remote working,” explains Olga.
“Stefanini isn’t alone in working in this way and most IT businesses are well set up to offer some sort of remote working policy, but a far greater range of businesses in different sectors could be realising these benefits.”
Reduced employee turnover
Studies have shown that it can cost up to €30,000 to hire a new employee, including the logistics of advertising and interviewing for the role, along with the lost output and time spent training a new hire.
This underlines the importance of another key benefit to offering working from home: it reduces employee turnover. Research from the video conferencing business Owl Labs, for instance, found that companies that offer remote working options experience 25% less staff turnover.
The simple reason for this is employees tend to stay longer with employers that work around their lifestyles – and a well-delivered flexible working policy does this, resulting in a more engaged and more loyal workforce. This is particularly the case in markets where flexible working isn’t the norm and is all the more appreciated by prospective employees in these countries.
“For our teams across Eastern Europe, including in Ukraine and Moldova, the ability to work from home isn’t offered as standard outside of perhaps 20% of businesses in those markets. For our employees in these countries that choose to work in this way, it’s particularly appreciated that we are offering employment that is notably more suitable for them than many other local businesses,” explains Olga.
“Our working from home policy isn’t simply a ‘nice to have’ but is driving bottom line business results. We’ve been able to see a clear link between the increased uptake of this option and an increase in our efficiency and a reduction in turnover, while, relatedly, our employee satisfaction score has increased by around 10% in the last two years,” concludes Olga.