The ‘Work From Home’ (WFH) trend is gaining rapid momentum. Unheard of a decade back, today 45% Americans report having worked from home. Infact, the number of people working remotely four to five days a week, is 31%.
The notion that remote workers are unproductive and disengaged, is getting challenged. In 2013, Stanford University conducted a 9-month long study with Ctrip, a Chinese travel company. At that time, 50% of the staff of Ctrip was working remotely, and the study sought to explore its impact. The result: people working from home completed 13.5% more calls than the staff in the office. And Ctrip ended up saving $1,900 per employee, for those nine months.
What contributed to this? A chunk of this productivity increase was due to a quieter environment at home, which makes it easier to process calls. Offices involve distractions that cause cognitive overload. Also, people at home worked more hours. They started their day earlier, took shorter breaks, and since they did not commute, they could work till the end of the work day.
Here’s more about the positive impact of WFH:
It increases employee well-being. Overall, working from home significantly reduces the stress levels of employees, shows a PGI study. Mostly because they don’t have to deal with social demands, adhoc meetings, or challenges of commuting to work. Employees also show up more for work, reducing absenteeism by 69%.
It leads to better engagement. Sounds counterintuitive, right? Traditionally, remote workers have reported feeling isolated. However, a recent TINYPulse survey shows that on a scale of 1 to 10, when asked how happy they feel at work, remote employees scored 8.10, compared to all workers’ score of 7.42. Why? Because they enjoy more freedom and flexibility. Moreover, this arrangement allows for more employee demographics to engage with work, like differently abled people, pregnant women, and new parents. To add to it, remote working allows older employees to remain in the workforce longer.
It is beneficial for business costs. The higher the number of remote workers, the lower the company’s overhead costs. According to a Forbes report: Aetna (where 14,500 of 35,000 employees don’t have an “in-office” desk) shed 2.7 million square feet of office space, saving $78 million. American Express reported annual savings of $10-$15 million, courtesy their remote workers.
It is good for the environment. Is going green an incentive for you? WFH can help. It reduces gas consumption by $20 million, decreases greenhouse gas emissions by 54 million tons, and reduces oil consumption by 640 million barrels! Add to that less paper wastage.
The sun is surely shining on WFH policies. But note, that it is not for everyone. Some employees function best at a formal work place. So, the best approach – allow your people to choose. Offer flexibility. And watch if it impacts your business metrics.