Remote Work Is More Effective Than Office-Based Work, And Here’s Why
There's no denying the fact that remote working is a rapidly growing trend. While organizations and businesses had already started to embrace this new style of work before the COVID-19 pandemic, the abrupt surge in remote work has largely been due to the current global health crisis.
If you run a business, you must be wondering: “Is working from home more effective?” According to a report from research firm Valoir, hard data proves that indeed working remotely can be beneficial to both the employer and employee.
While the COVID-19 outbreak forced companies to shift to remote work without being well prepared, the research found that it had quite a small impact – only 1 percent – on productivity.
That said, not all company execs are in agreement with the work-from-home model. They argue that remote employees will work less due to lack of supervision or the distractions in a home environment. However, research shows otherwise.
So, why is working from home better? Here are the facts:
1. Access to a Larger Pool of Talent
The fact that remote work opens a talent pool that would otherwise be impossible to reach because of distance is probably one of the most impactful benefits for businesses and organizations. Back then, before remote work became a thing, employers had to rely on local talent. However, if you couldn’t find the talent you needed in your state or country, you had to source talent from outside countries and relocate them to your area.
The obvious downside was the cost incurred to make the entire process successful. But thanks to technology, now you can hire the talent you need regardless of the geographical barriers, without having to worry about relocation costs.
2. Less Time Commuting
The alarm goes off, you roll out of bed, do your morning chores quickly, and rush out the door, only to get stuck in traffic for hours. This is the norm for an in-office worker. However, with remote work, employees don’t need to worry about the commute.
Most of the work is done in the house or co-working spaces within the area. This means saving valuable hours, which can be put to better use. On average, remote workers spend more than an hour commuting to the office every day.
That adds up to a whopping 20 hours a month spent on commuting instead of working on projects and assignments. Remote work eliminates the need to commute, saving up to 5 hours a day.
Apart from time wastage, commuting is also linked to the high rates of absenteeism in office workers, hence a reduction in productivity.
On the other hand, by commuting less, employees can make huge savings on fuel, which amounts to an average of $4,523 a year.
3. An Increase in Employee Attraction and Retention
In the U.S. alone, 51 percent of workers say they are actively looking for a new job or are open to one. The major reason for the high quit rate? Lack of job flexibility. Companies that don’t embrace the shift to remote work are finding it difficult to attract and retain employees since most of them prefer the freedom and flexibility of working from home.
One study found that 65 percent of women would prefer to work from home if given the opportunity by their bosses. They cited work-family balance to be one of the top reasons why they would want to work from home. More than half of women would quit their jobs after childbirth or opt for jobs that offer more flexible working hours to better take care of their young kids.
Millennials particularly prefer telecommuting to working in-office, and companies that offer flexible work policies will be at the top of their list. Another study found that 79 percent of employees would be more willing to stay if the company offered a flexible work schedule.
For businesses, nothing’s more important than retaining a talented workforce. In essence, lower turnover means lower costs and high productivity.
4. Cost Savings
Let's face it, hiring remote workers eliminates the need for renting or buying office space. Renting office space is extremely expensive, and where budget is a major concern, companies are not willing to spend around $100 - $200 per square foot in annual rental costs.
Major tech companies like Microsoft, Facebook, and Twitter, who were among the first to embrace the work-from-home culture after the COVID-19 outbreak, are now considering letting their staff work from home permanently. According to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, nearly half of its 45,000 employees would prefer to work remotely and plans may be underway to make the transition.
Besides, working remotely not only saves companies millions of dollars but also lowers the negative environmental impact. Certainly, when a company with more than 20,000 employees decides to go remote, that means a reduction in tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
The same can be said for waste disposal (people use far less paper at home than in the office), reduced energy consumption (working off-site doesn't use as much electricity as working on-site), and so on.
5. Fewer Distractions
While working in an office allows face-to-face interactions and socialization, it also has its fair share of challenges, chief among them being distractions. This is especially true for those working in open workspaces. Being surrounded by a sea of people makes it harder to concentrate on your tasks, which might negatively impact the quality of work.
This study found that interruptions from colleagues affect the attention spans, productivity, and creative thinking of workers in an office environment.
Remote workers, on the other hand, have fewer distractions. As a result, concentration levels are high, a fact that’s attributed to increased productivity.
Additionally, office workers are more likely to get distracted by an overly talkative boss, according to research by Airtasker. 52 percent of the workers reported that their bosses stressed them out, leading to a drop in productivity.
With fewer distractions and less supervision, remote workers are bound to get more work done than their in-office counterparts.
6. More Efficiency
Workers in an office are likely to spend more than an hour each day talking to co-workers about non-work-related stuff. Compared to around 30 minutes spent by remote workers talking to their teammates, it's clear that remote workers are more efficient.
While it's also true that social isolation is an issue among remote employees, managers can allocate specific times for remote teams to converse freely with each other about non-work-related stuff. This may help to reduce stress caused by social isolation and feelings of loneliness from working from home alone.
7. No Time Wastage on Useless Meetings
You can get everybody on your team to join a virtual meeting in a matter of minutes. The time wasters associated with the office environment are no longer a concern for virtual teams. Plus, remote workers tend to be more focused on tasks at hand, making meetings more meaningful.
8. Managing a Remote Team Is Now Easier Than Ever
Thanks to the availability of multiple team management systems, managing a team has never been this easy. Employers can implement the use of time tracking software like Traqq to track the hours each employee is putting into work, their level of productivity, and the apps and websites that they frequently use.
This data can prove useful when you want to restructure the workspace based on your analysis of the days when your employees are most productive. In turn, you’ll be able to formulate better work policies to suit the specific needs of your remote team.
9. Fewer Sick Days Means More Work Done
Remote workers take fewer sick days compared to their in-office colleagues. Remote workers experiencing mild colds or food poisoning can still get some work done, whilst their office counterparts are likely to call in sick.
Plus, there is always the risk of spreading infections and illness to co-workers in the same office.
10. Remote Employees Are Happier and Healthier
Remote workers have the convenience of working from anywhere they like and at their own time. What’s more, employees can organize their home office wherever they deem fit and design it however they want.
Such freedom and independence are bound to make them happier and more satisfied.
Remote workers also get more chances to exercise and eat healthy because of the spare time that would otherwise be spent commuting.
And because remote employees get to spend more time with their families and accomplish more personal tasks, they will be less inclined to take vacations.
As a result, they get to work longer on a day-to-day basis, which translates into getting more done compared to their office colleagues.
How to Make Your Team More Effective
After exploring the reasons why working from home is a good idea, employers must support their teams so that they feel connected to the workplace. To do this, employers should
- cultivate a culture of efficient communication between remote teams and their team leaders,
- trust their teams to get the job done and avoid micromanaging them,
- give clear guidelines when handing out tasks,
- have regular check-ins via video calls to check on the progress of the workers and inquire about their wellbeing, and
- be flexible since understanding what a team member is going through and allowing them to work when they are most productive will boost their morale and improve the quality of work.
If you are yet to embrace remote work but are considering it, you may be inclined to ask: “Is working from home more productive?” At first, this might seem a little complicated, but with the right tips and tools in place, you can make the transition as seamless as possible.
A remote team will definitely save your company thousands in costs and, at the same time, bring in better results since you can hire the best talent anywhere from around the globe.