It’s the age-old argument; work cannot be fully remote because productivity will suffer. Employees will be unable to focus on work in their homes. Effective work cannot happen without management overseeing it take place in person.
More and more, research shows that this is simply not true. Going fully remote was an unavoidable outcome from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, and businesses who adapted to this new normal did not suffer.
Advancements in technology, such as video calls, scheduling platforms, and digital task boards, have been steadily enabling remote and hybrid work as an option for employers for years, just not many of them took advantage of it as a perk for employees, until the pandemic, and resulting government regulations forced their hand.
Although some employers may still balk at the idea of remaining fully or partially remote, even years after Covid-19, doing so could yield numerous benefits, including savings, higher retention rates, higher morale, and, believe it or not, increased productivity. In this article, we will explore these advantages of leveraging remote work as a perk of employment.
Companies are consistently trying to reduce costs, and oftentimes, that means targeting overhead expenses. Instead of laying off employees, one strategy for cost reduction is shifting from strictly in-person work to remote or hybrid models. This acts to reduce costs of real-estate, as companies no longer need pay to rent out huge office spaces; as well as reduces energy costs, for the similar reason that they no longer need to pay to keep these places lit or heated.
Another often targeted overhead expense is human resources, especially employee salaries and wages. However, switching to a remote working situation can help to keep those costs down as well.
Global Workplace Analytics found that 37% of remote workers would accept a 10% pay cut to keep working from home. This could be because working from home just half of the time, as one would with a hybrid schedule, translates to an average savings of $4,000 per year, due to reduced spending on gas, professional wardrobe, vehicle upkeep, and eating out.
These potential savings are a huge incentive for workers, and could be a large contributing factor as to why many are so adamant to continue working from home, if only some of the time.
In a survey done by ClearPath, they found that, when surveying Gen Z workers, in terms of importance, 57% placed the flexibility of remote work above compensation.
From a cost efficiency standpoint, remote work benefits both employers and their employees, and it makes the most economical sense to at least adopt a hybrid model for your workers.
It’s common knowledge that it’s more expensive to train new employees than to keep old ones. Retaining employees then, is a critical factor for companies. Nowadays, many employees are re-evaluating their job positions in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. As remote work becomes increasingly popular, some workers flat-out refuse to accept an on-site position, knowing they can look elsewhere for a similar position with the flexibility they expect.
This new expectation doesn’t stop at job seekers. A recent McKinsey survey reported that 40% of surveyed employees planned to quit their jobs. Another study, conducted by the ADP research institute, reported that 64% of employees would consider looking elsewhere for a job if their company made working in-office mandatory.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a shift in workplace culture, and remote work is the crux of it. As previously stated, remote work accommodates many employees’ personal goals, to the extent that the correct level of flexibility can be more significant than the pay rate itself.
Therefore, for companies willing and able to offer it, flexibility has the potential to be a strong and effective strategy for both recruiting and employee retention.
As briefly touched on earlier in this article, many employers historically have been hesitant to offer remote work options, largely because they feared productivity would suffer if employees were not in-office. After nearly 2 years of remote and hybrid work structures, it’s become clear that this is not the case. In fact, studies show that when people work remotely, productivity is either constant or actually increases.
Airtasker conducted a study of 1,004 full-time employees across the United States, 505 of whom worked remotely, to better understand the efficiency of remote work.
According to the findings, remote and hybrid employees are more productive than their office-based counterparts.
In comparison to those who work in offices, remote workers put in an extra 1.4 days of work per month, or approximately 17 extra hours a year. Office workers were found to be unproductive for an average 37 minutes a day, compared to remote workers’ 27 minutes a day.
22% of in-office workers even cited that they were more likely to be distracted by their boss, where only 15% of remote workers said the same. And true, remote workers were shown to take longer breaks than in-office workers, (22 minutes versus 18 minutes) but by working an extra 10 minutes a day, they more than made up the difference.
Additionally, remote labor can aid in halting the spread of disease, saving businesses from lost productivity while preserving public health. This results in less time lost because of employee sickness.
Although the Covid-19 pandemic forced many businesses to adopt a remote/hybrid model, it also allowed them to reap the benefits of consistent, or even increased productivity. It would be a mistake, or perhaps even an impossibility, to return to being in-office full time.
Increased opportunity for innovative thinking
One last benefit to employers’ who offer remote work as a perk, is that their companies can benefit from a wider pool of talent. Employees can come from anywhere around the globe, and the resulting diversity can inspire greater innovative thinking.
Your way of living affects how you see the world, which opens up a valuable opportunity at the nexus of remote work and open innovation. Employees are no longer stuck in the same building, rather, they are living in different cities, different climates, different cultures- all factors that they can draw on to inspire their work. Harvard Business School Professor, Karim Lakhani puts it this way:
“In a remote work setting, employees themselves are being thrust into the outside world. They’re no longer stuck in the unifying experience of office life, which allows them to tap into unique perspectives and entertain new ideas they may not have had the opportunity to previously consider.”-Karim Lakhani
By sharing the values of promoting individuality and embracing people’s varied ideas, innovation and remote work go hand in hand, and can be helpful partners in helping your company strive towards a brighter future.
Overall, businesses must keep focused on the main objective. It doesn’t matter where the task is being done; what’s important is that the work being done is of a high caliber by motivated people. Not only do more and more employees expect remote or hybrid work to be an offered perk of employment, research shows that it is more cost effective, productive, and forward thinking than traditional in-office environments.
Not only that, but by granting workers flexibility, you demonstrate that their personal lives and well-being matter, and help raise morale and promote a healthy workplace environment.
Some employers still may remain skeptical of remote work, perhaps unable to see past the way things have always been done. But nowadays, the ability to work remotely is expected to be a key part of the job.
Some companies are bridging the divide between working from home, and from the office with a hybrid model. With this system, you get the best of both options, increased productivity and cost efficiency of remote work, paired with the comradery and in-person management of office-based structures.
To retain and recruit in the most effective way possible, employers should definitely consider embracing the new normal of remote and hybrid work structures.