According to a new survey from Global Workplace Analytics, 76% of global office workers and 82% of US office workers want to continue working from home once the pandemic is over. Only a minority (16% of global office workers and 19% of US office workers) want to permanently ditch their offices, with most preferring flexible arrangements.
“Our prediction is that the longer people are required to work at home, the greater the adoption we will see when the dust settles,” Global Workplace Analytics forecasts.
The sentiments of employees aside, a significant body of data indicates that businesses, employees, and even the environment will benefit if work-from-home arrangements are universally adopted in the post-pandemic world.
The 10 Benefits of Working Remotely
Improved work-life balance & more flexible work schedules,
Positive impact on employee loyalty & retention,
Increased productivity & performance,
Reduced carbon footprints,
Wider hiring pool,
Greater diversity & inclusion in the workplace,
Monetary savings for employees,
Ensured business continuity.
1.Improved work-life balance & more flexible work schedules.
When enforced properly, work-from-home arrangements typically lead to improved work-life balance. Remote workers can adopt more flexible work schedules, which enables them to balance their professional responsibilities with their personal lives. They can start and finish their work days at their preferred times as long as they’re able to deliver the required output in a timely manner.
Personal to-dos—such as shopping for groceries, doing household chores, and overseeing contractors—can be more easily accommodated with flexible work arrangements. On the other hand, workers need to ensure that they’re setting clearly defined boundaries between their personal and professional lives to avoid the “168-hour workweek” phenomenon.
Workers with particularly demanding jobs often find themselves unable to disengage from work, resulting in excessive overtime. To prevent this, managers need to help their direct reports set clearly defined work schedules and timelines to avoid burnout and overwork.
2. Positive impact on employee loyalty & retention.
Remote work gives employees the freedom to manage their own schedules and priorities, leading to a greater sense of well-being and higher rates of happiness. Happier employees are more likely to feel loyal to their organizations, which in turn leads to improved employee retention and decreased employee turnover.
“Among other findings, we learned that remote work or the ability to work remotely makes employees happier, feel more trusted, better able to achieve work-life balance, and more inclined to take a pay cut to benefit from added flexibility,” states a report from Owl Labs and Global Workplace Analytics.
On a more personal level, remote workers mention other benefits to telecommuting, including the ability to customize their personal workspaces; wear comfortable clothing; eat healthier, homecooked food; and spend more time with their loved ones.
Taken to its most extreme, fully remote employees have complete freedom to choose their homes and work locations, leading to the “digital nomad” lifestyles that appeal to so many millennials and retirees.
3.Increased productivity & performance.
Working in a traditional office space isn’t all it’s cracked up to be: workers in other workstations or departments can be a constant source of distraction and it’s easy to get pulled into water cooler conversations and other impediments to productivity.
In fact, an astonishing 79% of employees requested for remote work to improve their focus and boost their productivity, according to the same report from Owl Labs and Global Workplace Analytics.
A common stereotype about remote workers is the perception that they’re constantly slacking off or working shorter hours. Numerous studies have proven the opposite: remote employees tend to work longer hours than their onsite counterparts as it can be challenging to unplug from work, while others wish to demonstrate their diligence towards their work.
According to a survey from ConnectSolutions, 77% of employees who work remotely at least a few times a month reported greater productivity offsite. Moreover, 30% reported accomplishing more work in less time and 24% reported accomplishing more work in the same amount of time.
4. Reduced commutes.
Abolishing or reducing onsite work radically cuts employees’ commutes, leading to numerous health and wellness benefits. With the rising cost of housing in many city centers, more and more employees are moving to outlying suburbs to access affordable housing, which unfortunately has extended their commute times.
In the United States, the percentage of employees with a commute greater than 90 minutes a day nearly doubled between 1990 and 2000, according to the US Census Bureau.
“Research from around the world is leading psychologists to conclude that the heightened stress that commuting puts on individuals and their families can easily overshadow the work and home gains they might realize,” warns a report from Scientific American.
Extended commutes have been correlated with the following negative outcomes:
- Increased physical disorders (including headaches, backaches, high blood pressure, and digestive problems)
- Increased mental disorders (including disrupted sleep, heightened fatigue, greater irritability, and concentration issues)
- Strained personal and professional relationships
By requiring employees to report to an office less frequently (or not at all), employees’ health, wellness, and relationships could see radical improvements.
5.Reduced carbon footprints.
Cutting back on onsite work would also result in major environmental benefits. Reduced employee commutes and operating hours in offices would radically reduce carbon footprints and positively impact climate change.
In fact, global lockdowns resulting from the coronavirus pandemic have led to improvements in global air quality, according to the latest scientific studies.
“The improvements in air quality will likely be temporary, but the findings give scientists a glimpse into what air quality could be like in the future as emissions regulations become more stringent,” notes the research.
What’s more, half-time telecommuting could potentially reduce carbon emissions by over 51 million metric tonnes annually, which is “the equivalent of taking all of New York’s commuters off the road,” notes Global Workplace Analytics.
6.Wider hiring pool.
Just as importantly, establishing a fully distributed workforce would allow employers to expand their hiring pool beyond their immediate environment. This, in turn, creates better employment opportunities for job seekers residing in rural areas or suburbs far removed from city centers, as well as job seekers with physical impairments or caregiving responsibilities.
Instead of only hiring employees who’d be willing to relocate or travel great distances to report to an onsite office, employers can shift their focus to hiring the best candidates for the job on a regional or international level. A highly qualified chief technology officer residing in Mumbai, India, would no longer have to relocate to Singapore or New York City just to take advantage of a great job offer.
By expanding their hiring criteria, employers will also positively impact diversity and inclusion in their workplaces.
7. Greater diversity & inclusion in the workplace.
Diversity and inclusion in the workplace is a concept that has gained traction in corporate circles due to its many perceived benefits.
Diversity encompasses understanding, accepting, and valuing differences between people, including differences in culture, religion, upbringing, and sexual orientation. This tolerance also extends to embracing differences in personality traits, skill sets, and education attainment.
Inclusion refers to collaborative and respectful workplace environments that encourage the participation and input of all employees. Human resources professionals have drawn a correlation between the success of distributed teams and their ability to implement diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
Companies that are perceived to be better at embracing diversity and inclusion are more likely to attract top international talent. They’re also more likely to be perceived in a positive light by the media and the general public, which is always great for business.
8. Monetary savings for employees.
Working remotely also leads to major monetary savings for employees—including savings on gas, car repairs, restaurant meals, professional wardrobes, parking fees, and children’s daycare. In fact, the average savings for half-time telework is a whopping $2,000 to $6,500 annually per employee, according to Global Workplace Analytics.
This is money employees can divert into emergency or college funds, or put aside for major financial goals.
9. Reduced overhead.
Companies benefit from remote work-from-home arrangements as well in the form of long-term savings, which is crucial in these uncertain economic times.
A typical company will save $11,000 annually for every employee who works remotely at least some of the time, according to Global Workplace Analytics. Full-time telecommuting, meanwhile, could save companies an astounding $20,000 to $37,000 per employee each year.
These savings encompass overhead, real estate costs, transport subsidies, equipment and furniture, and other expenses.
10. Ensured business continuity.
By their very structure, fully distributed teams are designed to function with minimal interruptions during times of disaster—including pandemics, inclement weather, terrorism, and roadway issues. This makes their establishment a critical part of business continuity planning.
In fact, three-quarters of remote employees said they would continue to work in the event of a disaster compared to just 28% of onsite workers, according to Global Workplace Analytics.