Global crisis opens eyes to the benefits of remote work models
The universal work from home experiment set forth by the global pandemic has changed long-held misconceptions about remote work. Executives and managers, once dubious that ‘real work’ could get done outside the office, are now realizing the positive impact remote work can have on employee productivity, work-life balance, mental health, costs, and the environment.
Savvy companies are planning to make flexible and remote work models a more permanent part of their cost- and workforce-management strategies after COVID-19 recedes. Here’s seven reasons why your company should make remote work a permanent part of its business plan:
Remote work models can save you money — Remote work measures can significantly reduce IT and real-estate costs, and enable companies to secure and engage skilled talent in less competitive and lower-cost locales. So, it’s not surprising that, in a recent Gartner Group study, 74 percent of CFOs said they plan to make remote work a permanent part of their workforce- and cost-management plans — long after the current crisis subsides.
It can save your employees money too — A study into the remote work practices of more than 2,500 US knowledge workers conducted by Citrix and the Centre of Economics and Business Research (Cebr) found that enabling employees to work remotely just two days per week would save employees over $107 billion — including reduced fuel costs and commuting fees as well as the added value of time back.
Your employees are more productive when working remote — Productivity growth has been declining for the past 15 years. A key contributor: all the distractions and bureaucracy in the office are keeping employees from doing their best work. Remote work could reverse that trend. Free from the stresses of commuting, complex systems, and idle watercooler interruptions, remote workers have been given the space to succeed. In a recent Citrix-One-Poll study of 10,000 global employees, 69 percent of respondents report that they are more focused and productive when working from home than they are in the office.
They work longer hours too — Despite misconceptions that work-from-home employees spend their days running errands or watching Netflix, the reality is that most put in longer hours when working remotely. In fact, 72 percent of employees responding to the Citrix-OnePoll survey said they work the same or more hours when working from home than they did when working in the office. The reason: employees working from home typically start their days earlier because they can avoid commute time and are more apt to work later into the night as their “office” is always just a few feet away.
Remote workers have a healthier work-life balance — Because they have the flexibility to manage their personal lives while working, 83 percent of workers responding to the Citrix-OnePoll survey say they have a better work-life balance working from home. On average, they take about 27 minutes a day in breaks (compared to 24 when working in an office). During this time, 46 percent said they manage needs for their family (such as homeschooling projects); 41 percent do chores; 34 percent work out; and 35 percent meditate. Overall, remote workers say they are less stressed and can focus and get their work done faster as a result. According to the Citrix-Cebr study, if remote work were more widespread across US workplaces (~2 days per week), workers would benefit from an extra 11.9 billion hours of added time for personal activities or even more work.
Remote work unlocks new talent pools and economic opportunities — Just a few months ago — prior to the global pandemic — businesses were struggling with a shortage of medium- to high-skilled workers. This challenge was exacerbated by an overarching workforce management approach that relied heavily on hiring talent within commuting distance of an office, call center, or other ‘work hub.’ Technology-enabled remote work models have opened businesses’ eyes to the potential of hiring the best talent — wherever it is.
The Cebr study found that companies offering virtual/remote work options can better compete in the battle for talent by dipping into untapped pools of workers, including those in rural locations; and those outside the conventional workforce, including stay-at-home parents; those caring for aging relatives; retirees; and gig workers. According to the study, 69 percent of people currently unemployed or economically inactive said that they would be encouraged to start working if given the opportunity to do so flexibly. Cebr projects that reactivating these untapped talent pools could yield over $2 trillion in economic gains across the US economy — the equivalent of a 10.2 percent jump in GDP.
Remote work advances your sustainability goals — Citrix-sponsored research conducted at the University of Warwick Computer Science Department found that allowing employees to work from home just two days a week would cut carbon dioxide emissions generated by staff commuting by 40%. By some estimates, such flexible work plans could reduce carbon emissions by 214 million tons annually.
It may not seem like it right now, but the world will eventually recover from this current pandemic. Smart organizations will take a retrospect of lessons learned from the crisis, and embrace more flexible work models that empower them to manage resources in the dynamic way that the unpredictable business environment we’ll be functioning in for the foreseeable future will demand. And they will see that the very same approaches and technologies that have helped them keep their employees safe and connected and their businesses running during the COVID-19 crisis will provide new levels of agility to capitalize on new opportunities and thrive in the future.