After two-and-a-half years of remote work, employees are increasingly being asked to come back into the office. And while some workers are happy to do so, many are reluctant to return to the old ways — at least not completely. An Owl Labs report shows 70% of workers desire hybrid or remote working options, and another 57% want to work from home full time.
If your teams have asked for full- or part-time remote work opportunities, you may wonder whether it’s the right move for your business. In this scenario, it’s best to research the benefits of remote work to see if it’s suitable for your organization.
Who knows — you may find that the pros outweigh the cons.
What is remote work?
Remote work is the practice of conducting business from outside the office. It can include working from home, a coffee shop, or even from a different city, state, or country. Some remote teams opt to work remotely several days a week and then come into the office the remainder of the time, while others choose to work from home full time and only come into the office for important meetings — or not at all.
Benefits of remote work for employees
Remote work is appealing to millions of employees and job seekers for a reason: It comes with many benefits. Here’s an overview of some of the top advantages of remote work.
1. Flexibility and work-life balance
Working from home provides ultimate flexibility for employees, especially if work hours aren’t strict. Employees get the opportunity to schedule work duties, meetings, and appointments around their personal lives and can complete tasks at their own pace.
This gives them full control over their work-life balance, so they’re less likely to feel burned out or overwhelmed with work. Plus, they can spend more time with family and friends, which is something many miss when they spend 40 hours per week in an office.
2. No more commuting
Working from home means no more hours wasted in traffic jams or subway delays. Globally, remote workers save an average of 72 minutes per day on commuting time. In the US, employees save an average of 55 minutes per day.
The way remote teams spend their extra time: 40% of that unused time goes toward work and 11% toward caregiving (a win-win for employees and employers).
3. More time to spend with loved ones
Parents and spouses are just a door knock away when working remotely. For many, this makes family life more fulfilling, particularly for remote workers who feel they miss a lot of their children’s milestones due to working in an office five days per week.
It also makes it easier to share responsibilities at home, which leads to less stress for the entire family.
4. Increased productivity
Believe it or not, remote workers tend to be more productive than their in-office counterparts. In fact, some even overwork, which can be a good or bad thing. It’s good because they get things done on time, but not-so-good because it can lead to burnout if it goes on for too long.
Working at home tends to have fewer distractions for some workers who don’t have small children or pets at home. Office spaces can sometimes have a lot of noise, disruptions from co-workers and managers, and office meetings, making it difficult to focus. Plus, they get to create an atmosphere where they feel the most comfortable and productive (e.g., in a quiet room with headphones or at a park with a laptop).
In the same Owl Labs report, 90% of remote workers said they were equal to or more productive working remotely than in the office. And 55% say they work more hours when working from home vs. the office.
5. Cost savings
Money savings are a big perk for remote workers, and it stems from several sources of spending disappearing:
- High gas expenses
- Expensive day care costs
- High cost of living (if they moved to a more remote area instead of the city)
- Business attire expenses
- High laundry and dry-cleaning bills
- Eating out for lunch
This money can otherwise go toward savings, paying down debt, or their next vacation.
6. Improved health and well-being
The stresses that come along with commuting to and from work each day, office politics, micromanagement from leaders, excessive meetings, work-life imbalances, and schedule conflicts can lead to increased health problems. When working from home, much of this is reduced or eliminated, which increases job satisfaction and overall wellness.
In Owl Labs’s report, 70% of remote employees say virtual meetings are less stressful than in-person meetings. And roughly 75% say working from home makes them happier and improves their mental health.
This may be because they have more time for self-care, such as working out or doing yoga during breaks or the time that would otherwise be spent commuting, eating healthy homemade meals instead of takeout, and taking rests. It also helps that workers receive more autonomy to perform tasks on their terms (as long as things are done within guidelines and on time).
Benefits of remote work for employers
Some leaders feel remote work only benefits the employees. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Here’s a list of the top advantages of allowing workers to operate remotely.
1. Access to global talent
When you rely on local applicants to fill roles in your organization, you limit your talent pool to people who live in or are willing to move to a single city or country. With remote work, your options expand to a global reach. If you can’t find someone with the skills or expertise you need within your region, there’s no limit to where you can search next.
Doing so also improves diversity and inclusion in your workforce. This will bring more innovation, ideas, and perspectives to your projects and organization, making it a better place to work (and, hopefully, buy from).
2. Reduced costs
Companies that decide to go all-in with remote work will see significant cost savings. The more employees you allow to work from home full time, the less office space you’ll need. This reduces your overhead costs for office rent, utilities, supplies, furniture, and equipment.
What you do with those savings is up to you. You could pocket it all as extra profit, or choose to reinvest a portion of it into your business. You could even use some of those savings to offer better benefits to your workers, making them more likely to want to stick around and increasing your competitiveness vs. other employers.
3. Reduced employee turnover
Since employee satisfaction increases from remote work, employers may see reduced turnover rates. When employees stick around longer, you don’t have to worry about paying for recruiters, onboarding, and training for new hires.
For instance, here’s a glimpse of the costs to replace employees at different levels:
- $12k to replace entry-level employees earning $36k per year
- $20k to replace a manager earning $60k per year
- $50k to replace an executive earning $150k per year
The more unhappy workers searching for new employment with remote opportunities, the more turnover you’ll have to pay for.
4. Increased efficiency
The fewer office distractions and the ability to work where and how you want allows employees to be more efficient. This means more work getting done faster, which ultimately leads to increased profits.
There’s also the benefit of reduced absenteeism, since workers are in charge of their schedules and can take rests as needed when they don’t feel well. If you give workers autonomy over their work schedules, employees will make time to get things done.
5. Business continuity
Imagine: A hurricane is heading toward your office, requiring everyone to evacuate until the storm passes. If it goes on too long, it’ll cause project delays and revenue loss — but only if the business requires employees to work in a central location.
With a remote setup, your teams can continue operating remotely, preventing any loss in productivity and progress. Of course, this requires investing in the right tools to ensure access to projects and communication with team members.
This may include:
- Videoconferencing software to host meetings
- Project management tools to assign and track progress
- Communication platforms to allow easier collab and live chat
- Cloud storage and file-sharing tools to ensure access to important files from anywhere
- Virtual Private Networks (VPN) for secure access to company resources
With your remote setup in place, teams can continue working without interruption.
If the benefits of remote work outweigh the negatives, then discuss it with your teams. See what ideas and desires they have to make remote work beneficial for everyone. Then adopt the tools and build policies to ensure work-life balance and employee wellness remain a top priority.