What are the benefits of remote working to my business?
Remote work isn't exactly a new phenomenon. But, for the longest time, most people viewed it as little more than an emergency solution. And this approach hit its logical extreme during the Pandemic, when many businesses were forced to rely on entirely on remote teams. Working from home is more popular than ever. So, there's no better time to start engaging with the benefits of remote working.
Updated 27th May 2023
What is remote work?
Remote work is a working style which enables employees to do their usual job from anywhere. Away from the traditional office. That can be working from home, or it could be something a bit less obvious, such as a co-working space, local coffee shop, client location, or even a hammock on a sun-kissed beach. Providing the Wi-Fi packs the required punch!
Remote work allows employees the flexibility to manage their day in conjunction with their out of work commitments, not in conflict with them. It can even free staff up to travel and see the world without impacting their ability to work. Modern tech offers easy ways to connect and check in with your remote employees, so you can engage your people regardless of location.
It is all about empowering staff to find a pattern of work that suits both the business and themselves. This results in higher employee engagement and better employee experience along the way.
How prevalent are work from home jobs?
As of 2022, in the US, 26% of employees were working remotely. 16% of US companies are fully remote, and it's predicted there'll be over 36 million American workers in remote roles by 2025. But America is hardly the only nation being swept up in the surge of remote work.
30% of the UK workforce was working remotely in 2022 (although this is actually a 7% dip from 2021). One in five UK office workers report being in a hybrid role. And, in 2021, more than 20 million people worked remotely for UK companies.
How does it remote work work?
There are a variety of ways to work remotely. There's no single approach that'll suit every company and its employees. Some staff will work remotely just one or two days a week, while other remote workers will work away from the office the majority of the time. Popping into the office weekly, monthly or quarterly for face to face meetings and updates.
Others rely on co-working spaces to act as their local office-like spot for getting work done. Coworking spaces comprise of large open plan office spaces that act as hubs of productivity, creativity, and tech for anyone to pop in, for as long as they need, and use anytime they wish (usually for a small monthly fee). They are somewhat of a halfway house between the traditional office space and working from home, offering the structure of the workplace (desks, connectivity, phones, etc.) with the flexibility of working outside of base. We'll look at co-working in a little more detail in our next blog post in this series.
How do remote jobs benefit businesses?
Many laggard managers think that less face time means less productivity. But the data simply doesn't support this view.
- Higher employee engagement
- Improved productivity
- Recruitment and retention
- Cost savings
- Employee benefits
Remote working boosts employee engagement
Engagement is a key focus for a lot of companies when it comes to HR activities. The benefits of employee engagement are clear, with thousands of studies and companies finding engagement can improve productivity, decrease attrition, increase staff happiness, boost discretionary effort and turn staff into proud advocates of the company they work for. In fact, a two-year study from Stanford University found that people working remotely were 9% more engaged in their roles and 50% less likely to quit their job.
If you have an effective employee engagement strategy in place, remote working can actually boost engagement. And this held true long before the Pandemic. In a 2017 review, Gallup found staff who work remotely for 60% of the time had significantly increased engagement levels than those who never worked remotely. Staff who worked away from the office 80% of the time were further engaged still.
Employee engagement is a crucial business performance KPI. Getting it right is a vital step for any business and remote working needn't impact negatively. If you're currently struggling with your employee engagement activities or seeing an increase in the number of remote workers across your business, download our latest guide: Employee engagement in a remote working world.
Remote workers are more productive
One of the biggest misconceptions about working remotely is how it must surely decrease productivity. The theory seems to go that if I can't supervise them, workers aren't going to stay on task and productivity will drop. Whilst this may be the way many managers feel about remote working; the evidence simply doesn't support this.
Remember that two-year Stanford study? Well, they didn't just prove the benefits of remote working in terms of engagement and turnover. They also found that remote workers were, on average, 13.5% more engaged than their office-based colleagues.
The numbers add up
A study from Ergotron of 1,000 remote and hybrid employees found that remote workers are significantly more productive due to their control over when they take breaks. It also found that, despite 40% of people working longer hours working remotely, 75% of survey respondents reported better work/life balance. In some cases, it could be that time saved from commutes more than compensates the extra desk time.
Another theory lies in the difference between office and home environments. Offices are generally quite distracting places. With phones ringing, colleagues eating at their desks, and endless interruptions. All this distraction means we lose focus. We have to context switch more. And this slows down our work rate, often without us really even consciously noticing the impact.
Working remotely affords every employee the opportunity to craft a workspace that works for the. Void of distraction and thus primed for productivity perfection. Remote workers can stay on task for longer and don't need time to refocus their attention.
Another supporting factor is that in general, remote workers, work longer hours than their office-based colleagues. With no daily commute to contend with, the ability to sort out small chores during lunch, reduced the length of breaks. And there's often a willingness to give back to an employer and therefore work a little earlier/later. In fact, remote workers average an extra 8% longer days. Sick days also reduce, meaning less productivity is lost to illness.
Recruitment and retention
Matt Mullenweg, CEO, and founder of Automattic (the company behind WordPress) puts it simply: "Talent and intelligence are equally distributed across the world, but opportunity isn't. A distributed workforce opens up the talent pool from local, to global"
This is a key benefit often overlooked for implementing remote work. You have a larger opportunity to find the right staff member for you. You can hire staff who live, sleep and breathe in the countries in which you are doing business, giving you experts in your global markets and the cultural differences of each.
Cost benefits of remote working
According to Global Workplace Analytics, if everyone who wanted to work remotely did so half the time, it would save businesses over $700 billion annually. This averages out to around $11,000 per employee. But where do these savings come from?
Many companies find that the cost of renting large office spaces, particularly in tech hubs such as London, Manchester, and New York is shockingly high. By introducing some level of remote working to their operation, companies can look at smaller spaces, saving huge amounts across a year in many cases. Less staff also brings down electrical, connectivity and sustenance costs.
Don't forget the increase in productivity and engagement will also help bring in more revenue, added to the cost savings offered up by remote working. All in all, the financial benefits of remote working are clear.
How does remote work benefit employees?
Flexibility is key when it comes to why an employee might initially seek the option to work from home. When not restricted to 9 to 5 working in a set location, parents can overcome childcare difficulties. Doctor appointments can be accepted without fear of having to reschedule. Dogs can be taken for a 15 minute leg-stretch. Fitness fans can grab a quick swim over lunch, and delivery woes will become a thing of the past.
One of the huge boosts of remote employment comes to employee wellbeing (be that physical, mental or economical) and we'll be shining a light on this area in next week's post, with a focus on:
- Decreased stress
- Higher morale
- Fewer instances of illness
- Elevated levels of happiness
- Monetary savings
- Renewed passion and pride
Environmental impacts of remote work
One of the huge areas in which positive returns of remote work is most clearly seen is the environment.
With so much of the UK population using cars or public transportation to get to and from work, Great Britain has a huge daily carbon footprint linked directly to our working lives. An increase in remote working means a reduction in these numbers and thus, less daily pollution!
Monster carried out some analysis on the environmental impacts that doubling the number of remoter workers between 2018 and 2025 could have on our environment. Some of the key highlights included:
- Reducing the number of daily London Underground users from 3.90m to 1.85m
- More than halving the number of daily commuters in Greater Manchester from 1.38m to 658k
- Cutting road congestion in Edinburgh by 82,699 cars (or 52 football pitches)
- Reducing the CO2 emission of people in Wales by 1,548kg per person/year.
These improvements to our roads, rails and air bring obvious health and economic benefits, some of which we will look at further into this series.
Communication is key to remote work
So, there you have it, remote working not only works for employees but businesses too. Increased productivity and engagement coupled with tangible cost savings and an improved talent pool all add up to a pretty compelling case for why remote work is good for business.
But communication is vital to ensure your remote workers get the most out of the experience and that your company reaps the bevy of potential rewards. It's all about feedback. Not just that which you give your remote workers, but also that which they offer you in return. If you get it right, then the opportunity is huge and it's easy to see why the remote work revolution rumbles on ever-stronger.
Download our latest best practice guide to make sure everyone benefits from remote work: Employee Engagement in a Remote Working World.