Remote working and flexible schedule opportunities have been popular within the tech industry for many years, but an increasing number of employers in various other industries are beginning to realize the potential benefits of allowing staff to work from home.
Of course, this is not a viable option for all employees, many of whom need to be physically present in the workplace to actually carry out their daily tasks. But where feasible and practicable, home working can increase employee productivity, reduce staff stress levels and improve your company’s bottom line. It can be a win-win situation to both employee and employer if implemented and managed appropriately.
1. Ability to focus
Office environments are full of distractions, which can have a detrimental effect on a person’s ability to focus. Working from home will enable your employees to control their environment accordingly and achieve better levels of concentration. As a result, they will be more productive during working hours and less likely to make mistakes. This will benefit your business because projects will be finished sooner and you can reduce the amount of overtime you have to pay.
2. Reduced stress
Early starts, commuting and long hours away from home can be incredibly stressful, which can cause decreased motivation, general job dissatisfaction and ill health. By allowing employees to work from home on an ad hoc or permanent basis, they will save valuable time and energy, enjoy a more satisfactory pace of life and be better placed to handle the pressures and demands of their work. Recent findings from the Health and Safety Executive report that stress accounts for 35% of most work-related ill health. As a result, employers are losing 9.9 million working days, which equates to 23 lost days per case.
3. Job satisfaction
Job satisfaction is key to employee retention. It’s not always a case of simply offering more money—that only goes so far. For many people, quality of life is more important that extra cash. According to a report from the Institute of Inertia, 24% of workers would choose working from home one day per week over a pay rise. Furthermore, 48% of those surveyed are happier when working from home, with 32% reportedly feeling more productive.
4. Work-life balance
Achieving a healthy work-life balance can be a challenge, particularly for employees who have to commute and work long hours. By removing the need to be present in the office on a daily basis, your employees will be able to manage their time, workload and personal commitments more effectively. This can have a positive impact on productivity, absenteeism and staff retention. No matter how much someone enjoys their work, the inability to achieve a manageable work-life balance can cause them to burn out or look for alternate employment, neither of which is particularly good for business.
5. Health and wellbeing
A growing number of public policy-makers and employers are investing in workplace health and wellness programs to address the significant impact of ill health and absenteeism on business and the economy as a whole. According to an extensive report carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers on behalf of the Health Work Wellbeing Executive, “workplace wellness makes commercial sense” with businesses enjoying reduced sickness absences, cost savings and additional revenue generation.
As part of your health and wellbeing strategy, providing the option to work from home can be incredibly effective. Employees will have more time for rest, they can take regular breaks for exercise, eat healthier meals and reduce their overall stress levels, all of which will benefit their mental and emotional health and physical wellbeing. As a result, they are less likely to become ill or take time off for minor ailments that would ordinary prevent them from attending the office.
Effectively managing remote workers
If you do decide to offer remote working opportunities to your employees, it’s important to manage them effectively. Not all workers are suited to working from home—certain people require supervision, encouragement, enforced structure and/or face-to-face interaction with colleagues to maintain their focus and motivation. It’s not for everyone.
To effectively manage remote workers, you must clearly outline your expectations, provide access to the information and technology they require to carry out their work, and ensure they check in regularly by phone or email to report their presence and progress. Additionally, boundaries should be respected, so it’s important that you refrain from contacting them outside of working hours to avoid interfering with their ability to achieve a healthy work-life balance.
Author: Rachel Craig is Head of Content for Rapid Formations Limited, the UK’s leading company formation agent. She provides small business advice and technical guidance on UK company registration, corporate compliance and employee wellness.