The idea of letting employees work from home can be scary: Will their work slip? Will they be too disconnected from the office? Will they take advantage of the freedom?
However, most of these fears have already proven themselves to be unfounded, as more research shows increased productivity, employee satisfaction, and employee loyalty from work at home staff. A TinyPulse survey found that:
- 91 percent of workers believe they’re more productive at home.
- Employees rated their happiness level (when working remote) as a 8.1 (on a scale from 1 to 10), as opposed to those in the office, which rated happiness as a 7.4
- The remote employees also felt more valued (7.75) versus in-office workers, who rated this at a 6.69.
If you still have reservations about your employees going to a remote set-up, here are five reasons you should consider letting your employees work from home and how you can set expectations to ensure the work is done.
Employees want more autonomy.
Employees don’t like to micromanage, and while you can avoid this in the office, the autonomous nature of working remotely also satisfied this desire. It gives your employees a sense of freedom, which in turn leads to feeling more satisfied with their job, according to a study by The Office Club:
“The data shows that as employees gain more control and autonomy in their positions, job satisfaction rises in tandem. There is a strong statistically significant relationship between job satisfaction and levels of control and autonomy at work,” explain study authors.
Set expectations: Instead of checking in every single day, set up a weekly one-on-one meeting, or team meeting, where you can check-in and make sure projects are on-task.
Productivity rates improve with remote workers.
While the study above shows self-reported numbers from remote employees, but Nicholas Bloom and James Liang, co-founders of Ctrip, let their employees work from home for nine months and the results were shocking. Bloom told Harvard Business Review:
‘The results we saw at Ctrip blew me away. Ctrip was thinking that it could save money on space and furniture if people worked from home and that the savings would outweigh the productivity hit it would take when employees left the discipline of the office environment. Instead, we found that people working from home completed 13.5% more calls than the staff in the office did—meaning that Ctrip got almost an extra workday a week out of them.”
Set expectations: Be clear with project milestones and deadlines; if employees are more productive, they’ll simply hit these sooner, allowing them to get more done.
It’s Easy to Implement
With technology, we are more connected than ever before. Employees now can log into networks remotely, attend meetings on their computer, and collaborate with their teams through many means of virtual communication:
“The concept of working from home might have seemed outlandish 20 years ago, but this is the 21st century. You can find access to Wi-Fi almost anywhere, and tools like GoToMeeting and Skype make remote communication a breeze,” says Cynthia Johnson with Entreprenuer.com.
Set expectations: Worried about managing a remote team? Check out Remote Collaboration: It’s Not As Hard As You Think to get some ideas for making it even easier than it already is.
You’ll Save Money
Allowing employees to work from home frees up office space, allowing you to save money on rent, furniture and regular purchases, like printer ink, paper, snacks, drinks and much more. You had a new set of expenses with an entirely virtual workspace, like video conferencing subscriptions and extra perks that many companies offer to remote employees. In fact, Ctrip saved an estimated $1,900 per month, per employee for the 9-month trial period.
Set expectations: Expectations, in this case, are for yourself. Set a savings goal and plan for how you’ll reach that while still providing benefits and value to employees.
You’ll Keep More Employees
Happier employees stick around longer. One study showed that because of the increase in job satisfaction and flexibility permitted, employees that work from home are less likely to quit their job. With greater freedom to enjoy their lives, make their own schedule and still make an income, it’s a win-win situation and one that’s greatly appreciated, in this case, in the form of higher retention rates.
Set expectations: Again, these expectations are for you. Prepare for employees to grow more with the organization. For example, if they’re sticking around longer, what does bonus and promotion structure look like?
Consider Remote, Even as a Trial
Follow in Ctrip’s footsteps and allow employees to work from home for a trial period, like 6, 9 or 12 months. While remote opportunities seem like a win-win, they’re not for every organization. See how it plays out in yours, poll employees and decides if it will stay when you have the undeniable data right in front of you.
BIO: Caroline Davis is a long-time writer and currently works remote as a contractor, so she can personally attest to the value of allowing an at-home workforce. She’s shared insights with a wide variety of publications including RecruiterBox, TeamBonding, SmartBizLoans and more. She regularly blogs on CarpeDaily.com and you can check out more of her work there.