The modern office is no longer just the place where you sit and do your job from 9 to 5 each day. Indeed, many employees now expect their places of work to be havens of comfort and creativity. This is especially true for Millennials, who now make up the largest generation in the U.S. labor force. Surveys and polls show that simply offering a large paycheck isn’t enough to keep today’s employees happy; instead, more and more workers these days prefer a workplace that offers a flexible schedule and opportunities for personal growth.
It makes sense, then, that in this context of flexibility the topic of remote work has come up in recent discussions. Especially now that advances in technology have made it easier than ever to communicate with someone in another room or even halfway around the world, companies are weighing the possibility of allowing employees to work remotely. Admittedly, it’s a bit of a daunting prospect—to some, the idea of a company letting employees work from home or not having an office altogether is almost unthinkable—so weighing the pros and cons of remote work requires careful consideration.
On one hand, there are people who are firmly against remote work, thinking it makes things unnecessarily complicated and hinders real collaboration. For example, Merlin Bise, CTO of GIACT Systems, keeps all his IT employees together in one office, citing ease of collaboration, efficiency, and the fostering of personal relationships that can only come from in-person interaction. On the other hand, the fact can’t be ignored that many top companies are now offering remote work positions. Some companies, including WordPress, GitHub, and Toptal, are even entirely remote—they don’t have a single office anywhere in the world.
The trend shows that remote work options are becoming more and more popular, but is it only to satisfy increasingly demanding employees? Not exactly. In fact, there are plenty of arguments for companies to start considering remote work options. Here are four reasons why some of the world’s most influential companies are choosing remote work setups:
- Remote work saves businesses money
Perhaps the number one reason many businesses are opting to offer remote work is the money it can save them. With employees working from home, the demands for office space and supplies go down, reducing overhead and other operational costs by a substantial margin. Indeed, one study from Global Workplace Analytics revealed that by letting employees work from home 50% of the time, companies can save $11,000 per employee each year. Perhaps the most eye-opening example of the cost-effectiveness of remote work came in Washington D.C. in 2014. When a big snowstorm hit the city, federal employees in the area were allowed to work from home. Ultimately, four days of remote work saved taxpayers $32 million in power, water, transportation, and other typical daily operational expenses. Clearly, cutting down on costs by letting employees operate remotely can mean huge savings.
- Remote setups are eco-friendly
Money isn’t the only thing companies save by going remote; turns out, remote work is also very eco-friendly. In 2015, FlexJobs surveyed a number of companies who offer remote positions and found that telecommuting has a hugely positive impact on the environment. Dell, Xerox, and Aetna alone reduced almost 100,00 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions in 2014 as a result of their remote work options. This is especially good for businesses because of the good PR it offers. A recent study from Nielsen revealed that 66% of shoppers are willing to pay more for services that have a positive environmental and social impact. On top of that, Millennials generally favor workplaces that make a concrete positive impact on the environment, making the remote work option a win-win for businesses.
- Remote workers are more productive
One major fear employers have about offering remote work positions is the stereotype associated with someone who works from home—lazy, in their pajamas all day, sleeping in, and prone to procrastination. While the stereotype is an easy one to buy into, it turns out it’s not really true. On the contrary, a study from the Harvard Business Review tracked a Chinese company that allowed employees to work remotely and discovered that remote employees are more productive than their in-office counterparts. In addition to increased productivity, offering remote work setups is also good for the overall competitiveness of the company: allowing remote positions means you can hire from anywhere, not just your local talent pool. This means you can have access to better workers who will do better work more consistently.
- Remote employees are happier
A look at the working habits of some of history’s most creative minds will show you that not everyone thrives under the 9-to-5 office culture, so why force your employees into a system if they do better work under a system more customized to their needs? The flexibility of a remote schedule means employees can work under their ideal circumstances, and that’s ultimately very good for your business both in terms of company morale and the bottom line. For example, an introvert probably doesn’t thrive in a crowded, noisy office; letting employees work from wherever they’re most comfortable will result in improvements across the board, from cutting costs to promoting happiness and everything in between.
There are many complex factors to consider before jumping into remote work, but the trends indicate that it’s becoming an increasingly popular business structure for many top companies. Do you have any experience with remote work? What are your thoughts on companies offering remote setups? Let’s discuss in the comments below!
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