Opportunities to work from home have ballooned over the past few years, and technological advancements are making the arrangements more attainable for workers and employers.
While remote work is still evolving, it’s creating alterations in work options and styles in relation to occupation and geography. Workers are enjoying more freedom and taking control of their work life. Employers are able to reduce their expenses and expand their talent reach and talent pool. They are also becoming more proactive about supporting their workers’ well-being.
In addition, remote work is tossing out some traditional job boundaries. These changes are giving employers the chance to experiment with new approaches in the digital workplace. Their efforts and new innovations are ultimately making working from home a permanent change.
Here are ten benefits and best practices of remote work.
Job candidates have placed workplace flexibility among their top priorities, according to the 2022 Global Talent Trends report released by LinkedIn.
Working from home makes it easier for workers to tackle errands and find time to attend events. Employers that let workers create their own schedules allow them to visit the doctor, take care of their vehicle and household repairs, attend their child’s school event, or manage childcare without worrying that their time away from work could negatively impact their job.
The flexibility enables workers to work from home, pack their laptops, and venture elsewhere. For example, they may work at a relative’s or vacation home to avoid cramped settings and noisy neighbors. Or, they may become “digital nomads” and align their work schedules with their personal travel itinerary.
However, employers also get some perks too. They can snag competitive talent and keep their top performers longer with flexible work options. Flexible arrangements allow them to expand their search for new employees. In addition, they can diversify their workforce to accelerate innovation.
When setting up flexible work options, discussing expectations and boundaries for work hours and communication is essential. Sometimes, a worker may need to stagger their hours to avoid distractions in the home, such as children or a spouse on a call. In addition, consider setting up regular check-ins to help keep the work on track and communication flowing.
Chatty coworkers, personal phone conversations from a coworker in the next cubicle, ringing phones, chimes from alerts and notifications, and copy machines or printers are among the distractions that occur in the workplace. Remote work avoids those issues and lets workers create a more productive work environment at home because they can find the time and place that will help maximize their output.
Workers with a fully flexible schedule showed 29 percent higher productivity compared to those who couldn’t adjust to their shift, according to the 2022 Future Forum Pulse survey. The survey questioned more than 10,000 workers throughout the world. It also found that half of the fully remote respondents were able to improve their focus.
Remote work gives workers more work-life balance, which can help them pace their work, so they produce consistent, high-quality results and avoid burnout. In addition, workers can organize unique workstyles that help them address their assignments at peak performance time and care for their family and physical and emotional health.
Employers can discover and experiment with productivity tools to determine what works for their teams. They can also motivate workers with recognition and rewards, offer support for professional development and help workers set goals to drive better performance.
Workers can boost their productivity by learning the hours throughout the day when they have the most energy and the least distractions. This assessment will also help them determine how they schedule their tasks and choose when to tackle their most cognitively demanding ones.
Workers can bypass the congestion of inner city transport systems and other traffic-clogged roads when they work from home. They also cut out long commutes and crowded transit stations. As a result, they avoid stressful situations and can reallocate their time to support a healthier work-life balance.
At home, workers gain more control over how they do their work and design settings conducive to productivity and relaxation. For example, they can create or seek out quieter and more comfortable environments.
In addition, remote workers may enjoy some reprieve from the unpleasant aspects of the company culture, such as gossip and cliques, helping them to focus more on their job. A Mental Health America study of 17,000 workers found that negative work environments can contribute to higher rates of absenteeism, conflict in personal relationships, and unhealthy behaviors like alcohol or substance abuse. While workers can not avoid all workplace stressors, working from home can give them more flexibility and control regarding how to deal with them.
Remote workers can structure their day to limit distractions. For example, they can create a routine that includes regular breaks, exercise, and lunch times. Workers can also schedule their social interactions in a way that lets them maintain and make new connections.
As workers’ stress levels subside, employers reap the benefits. The workers become more engaged and satisfied with their job, which enhances the company’s culture and productivity.
Employers can achieve more cost savings with remote workers. They can circumvent costs like office supplies and equipment, utility fees, janitorial services, security, parking spaces, and rental fees. In addition, remote work is becoming a valuable bargaining chip for employers looking for ways to retain employees without increasing pay. Employers can also save money on turnover because of job satisfaction.
The research firm Global Workplace Analytics found that telework can save companies $500 billion a year. The reduced costs resulted from real estate, electricity, absenteeism, turnover, and productivity. Ultimately, businesses can pocket more than $11,000 per employee per year, and this savings is if employees worked only half of the time from home.
Workers realize cost savings as they either reduce or eliminate their gas, vehicle maintenance and insurance, wardrobe fees, and childcare costs. Staying at home avoids those quick stopovers to get coffee and expensive lunch meals at the cafeteria or with coworkers. Global Workplace Analytics has estimated that employees working at home half the time can save between $600 and $6,000 per year.
Workers can start conserving their money by stocking up on nutritious foods and storing ready-to-heat-leftovers to avoid the temptation of getting unhealthy takeout meals. Coffee lovers should invest in setting up their coffee station to avoid runs to the coffee shop. Workers can also monitor work-related expenses they can claim as home office deductions.
Working from home can make it easier to manage the day, especially for parents and caregivers who can focus on strengthening their relationships with their loved ones.
Since they gain time from not having a daily work commute, workers can get up later and put away a pile of laundry or dishes in between virtual meetings. They can carve out the time to go to routine medical appointments or attend an event at their child’s school without worrying about jeopardizing their job. They can show up and be more present in their personal relationships. The COVID-19 pandemic created at-home work environments where spouses or partners worked side by side, and parents set up digital classrooms for their kids nearby to help monitor their progress.
Volunteerism is one way employers can encourage social interaction and social action. They can also suggest workers focus on making their time more productive rather than putting in additional hours and checking in their workload. Fitness stipends, different options for childcare support, and mental health support are some perks companies can add.
Workers can effectively reach their work-life management goals by establishing routines and work schedules with a clear start and end time. They can ensure their work area is separate from living spaces in their home to avoid the temptation to check their email. They can also invest in ergonomic desk furniture. Most importantly, taking breaks for walks and letting their eyes rest can help them maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Remote workers can choose how they want to go about their day and perform their tasks with less oversight. They don’t have to worry about someone peeking over their shoulder at their screen and micromanagers continuously stopping by their cubicle or holding impromptu meetings to get a pulse on their work activities.
Instead, workers can find a work rhythm that lets them function effectively and take breaks to refresh and develop new ideas. As a result, autonomy can boost work performance because it empowers workers to grow, trust their skills and capabilities, and make confident decisions. It can also help reduce stress and lead to better job satisfaction.
Giving workers autonomy fosters greater responsibility, engagement, creativity, and motivation. For employers, these attributes can result in more productive teams and a successful organization. Employers can promote autonomy by encouraging their workers to attend workshops and invest in training and skill development to empower their ability to work responsibly and independently. They can also establish boundaries via project management and audio or visual check-ins.
Remote work requires finding alternative communication methods since many social cues are missing, such as body language and vocal tone. These cues are necessary to ensure the normal pace and structure of conversations. Video conferencing and team collaboration technologies, like Zoom and Teams, and project management programs became essential during the COVID-19 pandemic and have helped support teamwork and team-building activities.
Many of these technologies have mobile apps that can keep workers connected, especially when running errands or waiting for appointments. For instance, workers can easily hop from their laptops to their smartphones. Video conferencing technologies increase engagement because people see their coworkers all at once on the screen, and they receive content at the same time.
Both employers and employees can create virtual team-building rituals, such as celebrations and socializing events, to strengthen work relationships. They should also ensure their messages are clear to avoid misinterpretation, even if it means writing a longer email.
The benefits of workers doing their job from home can support them, their employers, and the overall global efforts to protect the environment. In 2019, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that the average one-way work commute in the U.S. was 27.6 minutes. Remote work helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing cars on the road and traffic congestion, which can lead to a buildup of pollutants.
Employers can conserve energy and reduce waste, helping to curb their carbon footprint within the office space. Since companies can cut costs, they can reallocate their budgets. Employers maintaining office space can use natural lights, reduce heating and increase cooling temperatures, clean filters, and check for eligible tax breaks.
Workers can consider clean energy sources to help reduce expenses, such as installing solar panels. Meanwhile, simple actions like turning off their computer or putting it into sleep mode and not ordering takeout can help reduce waste and their carbon footprint, especially since some food establishments may use plastic for packaging their food.
Remote work creates more job opportunities for people living with disabilities. They can avoid barriers and obstacles in office settings and during their daily commute. Remote work has helped individuals with compromised immune systems reduce their exposure to illnesses like COVID-19, RSV, and the flu. It also helps people suffering from specific mental issues like anxiety because it can limit social interactions and noisy distractions, such as random chimes and computer ping notifications.
In addition, working from home allows workers with disabilities to customize their environments to meet their personalized needs and take advantage of the flexibility to schedule appointments.
Let’s face it. Events come up in life that can change circumstances. For example, a car accident may have landed a worker in the hospital, or they may have to take time to care for a loved one. Remote work helps employers retain employees when unforeseen or unfortunate events arise. It also diversifies the talent pool creating more diversity of thought.
Employers can create open and honest communication by empathizing and asking what accommodations are needed for their workers. For example, they can clearly communicate which deadlines are flexible and which are not. Employers can also support workers with disabilities by providing a stipend to help set up their environment for specific equipment and promoting wellness programs that can focus on meditation, breathwork, and self-care remedies. Accommodating overlooked and underrepresented communities can encourage more productivity and job satisfaction, which can produce more results.
Working from home can provide an instant boost in job satisfaction. Workers don’t have to power through their day in the confines of their office. Instead, they can take more productive breaks that include exercise and meditation.
According to the annual ADPRI “People at Work 2022: A Global Workforce View” survey, 89 percent of respondents working from home expressed more optimism about the next five years compared to peers who had to report to the office. Nearly half of them indicated that it made it easier to parent. The survey questioned 32,000 workers from 17 countries. Two-thirds of the participants indicated that they would consider looking for a new job if required to return to the office full-time.
Employers can help maintain job satisfaction through acknowledgment and recognition programs. They can also show appreciation for activities like taking on additional projects through praise in newsletters and other internal communication channels like Slack. In addition, employers can send out short surveys to get feedback about the work environment to learn what’s working well and what needs improvement.
Remote work can be a win-win for workers and employers as long as they set clear standards and expectations.
Workers need to choose a productive work area with limited distractions, set a schedule and establish a routine that allows them to take breaks to eat, exercise, socialize with colleagues, and recharge.
Employers must evaluate the job roles workers can do partly from home and which ones the workers can do fully remote. Then, they should adapt to workers’ needs by making available resources that support their productivity and mental health. They should also request feedback more frequently to help improve work experiences and create policies that support optimal performance. Employers must also keep an eye on the technological and workplace trends that support remote work.