Updated: Mar 9
By Ryan Solomon on March 25th, 2020
By now the Coronavirus either has you working from home or a location other than your office. As most companies shut their doors, everyone is wondering how successful remote work will be. We have good news for you.
Recent studies have shown that working from home can both increase productivity and decrease stress. Telework Research Network’s calculations suggests companies that encourage and support a work-from-home culture can actually save employees money in the long run. Perhaps Covid-19 will act as the tipping point in allowing both employees and employers to witness the benefits of this first hand.
The tech space is undoubtedly at the forefront of remote working. In fact many tech companies may find themselves unphased by the latest rules being enforced for the the sake of self-isolation. With instant messaging, teleconferencing, VPN networks, and wireless internet, we can stay connected just as though we were sitting in our office.
A 2 year study conducted by Stanford professor Nicholas Bloom showed an astounding performance boost of 13% among telecommuters, with some feeling it was the most productive they had been in their entire lives. Additionally employee attrition, the loss of employees through natural processes, decreased by 50%. Employees took shorter breaks, fewer sick days and less time off. The company also saved almost $2,000 per employee on rented office space.
Employers may remain cautious for fear of the system being abused, as well as a lack of oversight. Being unable to see or speak to an employee during work hours feels as if one is giving up control. While this is perfectly understandable, I think we should all focus on what is actually important - getting the work done.
Direct advantages of working remotely
Being in total control of your day allows you to create a positive work-life balance. By putting good habits into place you can sculpt your work week to suite your own life specifically. If you are a morning person you can now set yourself up to be guns blazing at 6am sharp. So long as you remember to take necessary breaks and don't overdo it on the overtime.
Good news for parents, chores and responsibilities can now be completed as is convenient for you. The kids can be dropped off in the morning, collected in the afternoon and dinner can be prepped. Those last minute 'emergencies' can be seen to in due course, rather than having to strategically leave the office. Just make sure you are putting in the required hours to get everything done!
Huge time savings no-longer having to deal with traffic, public transport, carbon emissions and other commuting offences on a daily basis. Employees in larger cities such as New York and Toronto spend in excess of 3 hours in traffic on a daily basis. That's over 750 hours, or 31 full days a year! An entire month spent sitting in traffic - that you don't get paid for.
Huge cost savings with a reduction in fuel, parking, take-out coffee, lunches, drinks, clothing and more. Research indicates the average remote worker can save more than $4500 on annual fuel costs alone, not to mention maintenance and repair costs due to the wear and tear on vehicles.
Take advantage of the perks! Go for a swim or bike ride. Bake a loaf of bread. Try to include things into your schedule that make you happy. Don't be so hard on yourself - as long you are able complete your work there's no harm done.
For business owners, happier and more balanced staff results in better staff retention, leading to higher productivity. Less exposure to people at the office results in less absenteeism.
In more specialized positions geographical restrictions can prevent employers from hiring their first choice. Employees may only find out after taking a job that the commute is simply too long or arduous. Studies have shown that commuting can lead to 1 in 4 employees giving up their job.
According to researchers, remote employees spend two hours and 44 minutes on physical exercise each week, marking a 25-minute increase over office workers. While these numbers can be hard to track, its undeniable that working remotely allows for far more flexibility. Overall fitness and eating healthy is much more attainable for those not required to spend 8 hours or more in the office each day.
You can now enjoy less distractions of the office, particularly with jobs that require long hours of focus, or more attention to detail. You no-longer need to endure Magda's morning chitchat, or be forced to plug in earphones to drown out Sniffy in the cubicle next to you. Those lengthy meetings that could have been an email will now actually be an email. Do keep in mind however that your new working environment will have its own selection of distractions to deal with. The difference now is that you will have more control over them.
When it comes to a remote working situation its important to remember that everyone is different. Your productivity and overall success as a remote employee depends entirely on you and your preferred work style. This is in fact the reason why it’s so hard to find solid data on whether or not people are more productive at home. Anecdotally, it seems to boil down to personality type and the job you do. Some of us can’t fathom getting work done with a TV nearby and all our comforts of home surrounding us, while others find it a struggle to stay focused among office chatter and other distractions. Many people find open-plan offices extremely disruptive.
Its important that both employers and employees understand working remotely can be a major productivity boost and not a productivity drain.
One surprising finding from Bloom's study did put a cautionary layer to going all in on work-from-home. More than half the volunteer group changed their minds about wanting to work from home, 100 percent of the time - they felt too much isolation. In the next article we will look at how to manage working from home protocol and offer some top tips.
Fortunately remote working is currently only a necessary temporary solution to battling Covid-19 and conventional practice may resume once things start to return to normal. It remains to be seen however what effect this will have on standard office procedure. Will working from home become something more common in the near future - and how might it benefit businesses moving forward? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
We will leave a link to a fantastic new video from CNBC here that explains just what the Coronavirus will mean for working from home moving forward.
Also check out this amazing guide Bankrate has created that provides readers with 8 ways to pay for a home office setup.
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