The benefits of working remotely for both employees and employers are becoming more and more apparent. This is especially true as companies have had time to better plan and optimize their remote work policies through the pandemic.
It’s now clear that the future of remote working is one that empowers all employees and creates better, more productive businesses.
In this article, we explore the benefits of working remotely. We also review how to counter any potential drawbacks to this new way of work.
Discover the four models companies are using to adapt to hybrid work—and how to make them work for you.
The benefits of working remotely can be summed up in one word: flexibility.
By creating more flexibility in work arrangements, companies that adopt some form of telecommuting can expect to see happier, healthier, and more productive offices.
This in turn can lead to cost savings, more innovation in the workplace, and a better company culture overall.
Remember that the pandemic pushed companies to adopt remote work literally overnight.
Despite this rushed (or non-existent) transition, most newly remote employees found themselves to be just as productive and happy as when they clocked in at their traditional offices.
Now that companies have had time to adjust to this new normal, they can take what they’ve learned to further improve working remotely. And they can create even more benefits.
Specifically, when managed properly, companies and employees can expect to see the following 9 benefits of remote work.
A home office can offer an infinitely more personalized work environment than a traditional one. This in turn can lead to a better work-life balance and well-being for remote workers. Remote workers can can take breaks to switch a load of laundry, feed the dogs, or chat with the mail carrier as needed.
Especially when remote working is coupled with a flexible schedule, it can empower employees to create a better workday. A workday that meshes well with the rest of their lives.
In particular, flexible working hours and locations can benefit caregivers and those trying to balance family needs. A working dad can work from the coffee shop near his child’s school making pick-up easier. Or a working daughter can more easily check in on her mother during lunch.
Remote work can let employees better juggle their work lives and personal lives in a way that benefits both. That working daughter, for example, can focus better during her morning strategy sessions, when she’s not worried about who can check in on mom.
One of the main reasons employees enjoy remote work is that it treats them like the adults they are.
Ultimately, remote workers have more autonomy, which implies a greater level of trust from their employers. This trust is a critical component of a better employee experience and healthier work culture overall.
Even with the advent of podcasts and earbuds, there are few people who actually enjoy their commute.
The average American spends 51 minute a day on their commute, which can be associated with negative impacts on both their mental and physical health.
Eliminating this commute saves employees money on things like gas and parking.
It also saves them time—which they can now spend on work, on their personal needs, or on hitting snooze.
In other words, when people spend less time commuting and working remotely, they can benefit by spending more time on what matters, to either them or their employer.
Just as important, reducing or eliminating commuting to the office is also good for the environment.
One of the advantages of remote working is that it can help reduce a company’s carbon footprint, critical for companies concerned with improving the ‘triple bottom line’—people, planet, and profit.
Like we’ve covered, cutting out unnecessary commute time can help here, but it’s just a start.
Namely, when companies are able to use remote working to cut back on their office space, they can dramatically reduce their carbon footprint and use much less energy overall.
Each generation in the workplace has different expectations when it comes to their work arrangements and work schedule. But every generation in the office is now asking for flexible working, which includes working remotely. This is a further incentive for companies to maintain remote work policies even when the pandemic is finally over.
Millennials in particular tend to prefer and benefit from working remotely. Since they’ll make up 75% of the global workforce by 2025, their preferences are worth noting.
Of course, most companies that utilize remote work will also maintain an office and a hybrid workforce.
Thanks to telecommuting, fewer people will be using the office at any given time. This means the office can be now designed to better support the people actually using it. And this can be done in fresh and exciting ways.
For example, offices that are used by fewer people can much more easily accommodate Office Neighborhoods, where different areas in the office are dedicated to different ‘neighborhoods’ of workers, who are grouped according to task, department, or other criteria.
Similarly, these types of offices also lend themselves nicely to activity-based working (ABW), where spaces are set aside for specific tasks—like collaborative spaces for collaborative work, quiet spaces for quiet work, and phone booths for private calls.
Similar to the principles behind good meeting room design and creative room names, smart companies are looking at ways to make the office an inspiring place where people actually want to be.
Not only can these inspiring new offices lead to happier, more productive employees. Great offices can also become a job perk themselves. They’re often critically used to help improve recruiting in this era of the Great Resignation.
Smart companies are now promoting health and wellness, and certainly we know now that offering less occupied spaces is one of the surest ways to do this. The less people who are using an office, the safer it will be.
Especially when companies use tools like Distancing Planner, which helps maintain social distancing, and Safeguard, which helps ensure everyone in the office has a clean bill of health, employees will be much safer—and much less likely to catch a cold.
And there’s no such thing as an employee who doesn’t appreciate a company that is looking out for them in this way.
Companies that use remote work well typically have to use technology well, too.
Specifically, remote teams require sophisticated digital workplace solutions, as well as access to a single sign-on (SSO) digital workspace.
Of course, this technology will benefit all workers, not just those working remotely. It can help improve collaboration in the office as well.
All these benefits of working remotely combine to create perhaps the most important benefit of remote work: happier workers.
One study found that remote workers are 22% more likely to report being happy at work. This also helps with employee retention. At the end of the day, happy employees are good employees.
And does anyone actually miss office politics? A lot of what we think of as the ‘daily grind’ actually has to do with the unpleasant aspects of commuting to and navigating the office—and not with the work itself. Reducing the amount of time spent on this unnecessary grind is a surefire path to better employee well-being.
As we’ve covered, many companies were forced to pivot to remote work, no matter what their preferences.
And as we’ve also covered, there are many benefits of working remotely. These benefits can lead to hipper offices and much happier workers.
That said, most companies are now officially embracing remote work for a simple reason—it can improve their bottom line.
A remote workforce is typically less expensive to support, leading to cost savings for the company.
Specifically, a remote workforce improves a company’s bottom line in the following 4 ways.
Remote work moves the focus away from how long an employee sits at their cubicle, to the quality of work they actually produce. When you combine this with fewer interruptions and more peace and quiet, it’s not surprising that the latest studies show remote workers can be a whopping 47% more productive.
Given the associated improved work-life balance and better health and safety, it’s not a surprise that remote workers have lower rates of absenteeism than their more traditional peers.
We know that diverse companies are profitable ones. With remote work, employees no longer have to live in one neighborhood, city, or country even to work for a company. Remote work also opens the door to students, caregivers, people with disabilities, and a host of other workers who might otherwise have been unavailable. Among other benefits of working remotely, this access to a broader talent pool can also help companies ride out the current ‘turnover tsunami’ we’re currently experiencing.
Real estate is often a company’s second biggest expense after salary. Using a remote workforce to cut back on office space is a reliable way to save money.
Despite all these benefits of working remotely, telework isn’t for everyone.
For some people, remote work can blur the lines between the personal and professional, actually leading to stress and burnout.
And remote work inherently makes collaboration and team building more difficult. For many people, connecting with their co-workers and forming good relationships is one of the main perks of working. It’s something they miss when they’re 100% remote.
Of course, these types of relationships are also critical to collaboration in the workplace, and they’re much more difficult to foster in a remote workforce.
That’s why one of the best ways to counter the disadvantages of remote working is to implement hybrid work, in which most employees work remotely part of the time, but they still use the office occasionally. There are now many tried-and-trusted hybrid work models that companies can employ, according to their needs and goals.
We know from a recent OfficeSpace Harris Poll that the majority of workers who are returning to work after the pandemic want to do so on a hybrid basis. They’re looking forward to more collaboration and time with co-workers. But they also don’t want to give up all the benefits of working remotely they’ve now experienced.
In other words, most workers now want the best of both worlds.
With hybrid working, everyone can still enjoy the benefits and cost savings of remote working, with an office to use as a home base to stay connected.
Like OfficeSpace CEO David Cocchiara stresses, “for many industries, the office is becoming more of a destination. Employees don’t go there just because they have to be there. They go because there’s something they’re trying to accomplish. Whether that’s collaboration with another team or within their team, planning, reviews, brainstorming and similar activities.”
Beyond offering hybrid work, there are more ways that companies and FMs can counter the negative aspects of remote working.
For example, cyber security is always a particular concern whenever employees are connecting remotely.
That’s why FMs should collaborate with their IT counterparts to ensure that all employees have ready access to safe and reliable wi-fi, along with the right tools to access it securely. They may also need to improve security in their building automation system (BAS).
Meanwhile, FMs should also collaborate with HR to ensure the messaging and policies around remote and hybrid working are clear. Companies may also want to follow Shopify’s lead by offering remote workers a stipend to outfit their home office. Doing so can help ensure all employees feel supported, wherever they happen to work.
A remote and/or hybrid workforce is inherently more difficult to manage than a traditional one. Companies will therefore need to ensure they are using robust workplace management software to keep up with demands.
Ideally, this will include global workplace analytics they can use to make better decisions. Good reports and analytics can provide insight into what’s actually happening on the ground. Companies can use this information to create better workplace policies going forward.
Like we’ve covered, remote workers should be supported with good technology and digital workplace solutions they can access anywhere, even across multiple time zones if necessary.
Ideally, these solutions will be integrated with Microsoft Teams, Slack, and whatever other collaboration tools a company is using.
Of course video conferencing tools like Zoom and Owl Labs are popular for a reason, especially when companies run effective hybrid meetings.
But ultimately, staying connected with your company while working remotely is a choice, and it requires an extra effort on the employee’s part. That’s why working remotely isn’t for everyone.
It’s also why Cocchiara stresses “there may be some tension initially between employees and employers as their desires for a certain style and application may not match. Workplace style is becoming just another qualifier that people consider when they’re searching for jobs. And employers will have to be clear with their candidates about the way they work.”
Some amount of remote working is here to stay, and the better employers embrace it, the better everyone will be. With the right tools, remote work and hybrid work can benefit everyone in an organization. This in turn can lead to a workplace without limits, where employees can work when and where it most benefits everyone.
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