Why Companies Should Consider a Remote Work Option

 The corporate landscape changed drastically in 2020. Remote work went from an option for small startups to being forced on nearly all office workers in America and worldwide.

Work from home was hardly a blip on the radar for me, and actual remote work (or digital nomadism) was out of the question. I assumed I would spend the rest of my working life commuting to and from an office.

Sure, my company had a few remote employees, but it was rare to see such a request approved. The possibility that I could work from home or wherever I felt comfortable never dawned on me.

Then, the pandemic hit, and within days we began to work from home.

Two weeks turned into two months, and before we knew it, an entire year passed at home. In that time, the company closed my office and relocated employees out of state to the headquarters, still requiring employees to be in the office once the pandemic ended.

Yet, for many employees, relocation wasn’t an option. Family or spouses lived close by, the climate varied drastically, or it just wasn’t in the plans.

With massive companies like Twitter and Facebook allowing employees to work remotely after the pandemic and many in the tech landscape already offering remote options, some companies’ hard stance on no remote work was puzzling.

I’ll admit, there are challenges to an entirely remote workforce. As an introverted manager, I had to make a conscious effort to connect with my employees every day. Hiring and training proved a challenge, and there’s no “popping by” someone’s office when tech goes haywire.

Yet, there are incredible benefits to even a partial workforce. Here are four reasons why companies need to consider a remote work option for their employees:

It’s in the Numbers

Buffer published their annual State of Remote Work report where they interviewed employees who already work remotely and employees who worked from home due to the pandemic.

Despite rumblings that employees are eager to return to the office, 97.6% of employees surveyed would like to work remotely at least part-time for the rest of their career.

Also, 46% said their company was planning on allowing remote work permanently, while only 16% said their company wouldn’t allow it.

Those numbers speak volumes, and while it is, of course, a sample size, it still reflects the general state of remote work in 2021.

Employees want to continue working remotely, whether it’s from home or in another remote capacity. If they’re currently with a company in the 16% that won’t allow continued remote work, then those employees might begin to seek out companies or positions that better suit their needs and desires.

Greater Employee Productivity

Every employee works differently. Some prefer chaotic office environments and get more work done when they collaborate and connect in person, while others prefer a quiet space without interruptions.

Ten thousand employees surveyed by the Becker Friedman Institute for Economics at the University of Chicago (Apollotechnical.com) indicated they were just as productive working from home, and 30% of those employees said they were more productive. It’s not hard to see why. Employees no longer have a stressful and possibly lengthy commute, there are far fewer interruptions and people popping into the office for a “quick chat,” and they have more time for family and activities that light them up.

I thrive in a remote environment. For one, I can take my time getting ready in the morning, meditate, and get a healthy breakfast before I start the day. Without the rush to get in the office, I start work with a clearer mind and dig right into projects. I’m also the type to prefer a quiet environment that doesn’t lend itself to constant interruptions. I find it impossible to concentrate, do deep work, and accomplish tasks with continuous noise and interruptions from co-workers.

Though remote work is perfect for me, it isn’t for everyone. Not all employees will be productive or efficient working from home, and some will prefer the office to collaborate. But if an employee can choose to work from home or an environment that encourages not just productivity but their best work, then it makes sense to implement a remote work policy.

Cost Savings Can Be Tremendous

I’m no expert on corporate real estate, but I’m sure that corporate office space is expensive. Add how much it costs to customize for your company, purchase furniture, bring in cleaning services, and keep amenities such as food services, and I’m sure operating an office space is no small feat.

Now, consider how much it would cost to set an employee up at home. Companies would potentially cover the Internet each month, provide a stipend for employees to purchase office furniture and technology (printers, scanners, filing cabinets), and possibly offer a lunch stipend to make up for not having access to a cafeteria or lunch service. That cost is far less than operating an office space to house every employee.

What about other cost savings? Depending on where an employee lives, cutting out a commute could significantly impact the cost for that employee to get to work.

When I interned in New York City (mind you, this in 2003 when everyone did an unpaid internship), it cost me at least $50 each week just on the commute. That was for just a day and a half a week. Seven years later, I started a full-time job 30 miles from my home. I filled up with gas once a week had regular oil changes and tire rotations every three months, and put a heck of a lot of miles on my then brand new car.

The cost savings aren’t limited to money savings either. Think of the health cost of a commute on an employee and the environmental cost of vehicles on the road. Eliminating a commute gives an employee more time to exercise, reduces daily stress (especially in cities with traffic or unreliable public transportation), and cuts emissions.

Larger Pool of Potential Employees

Remote positions open a company up to a much larger talent pool from which they can hire. Companies located in a specific geographic area will limit who they can employ to people living in that area or are willing to relocate.

When a company doesn’t limit itself to a particular location, they now have the opportunity to hire employees nationwide or worldwide. Depending on the role, this may be an opportunity to hire the best person for the job, rather than the best person in town.

When my company relocated to another state, they offered me a relocation package. Moving to that state wasn’t in my plans and would more than double the time and distance to get to my family. With a family member needing my help, I absolutely couldn’t make the move.

Yet, they approached me several times to try and get me to reconsider turning down the offer. They approached me several times to revisit the relocation offer, asking me if relocation was entirely out of the question. With my knowledge, experience, and ability to do the job, I’m valuable to them, and they don’t want to lose me. But, I need to work remotely so I can stay close to my family.

Had they allowed me to work remotely permanently, they would have retained my knowledge and talent. By not budging on a remote work option for employees, companies risk losing an employee and the talent that comes with that employee.

Remote work isn’t for every company, and it isn’t for everyone. Depending on the work, the industry, and the role, it might not be possible for everyone to work remotely.

Yet, for many companies, there are significant benefits to providing an employee with the option to work remotely. While many companies currently offer or are exploring the possibility, some are sticking their feet in the mud and refusing to budge.

Remote work and digital nomadism are the future of work and are happening now. Many employees desire the option, and companies that refuse to budge might find themselves losing talent to companies willing to be flexible and follow work trends into 2021 and beyond.

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