In 2013, the global company Yahoo! called all teleworkers back to the office, causing quite the debate amongst business professionals. That same year, Diebold CEO Andy Mattes took a very different approach, expanding his pool of talent by hiring professionals who were open to working from home. Now, almost three years later, as Yahoo! closes offices in China, and Diebold sales are up, it is evident who won that round — the future of telework is bright. Yahoo! has even loosened its hold, allowing some workers to work remotely.
A recent study by Global Workplace Analytics revealed some staggering numbers in support of businesses adopting telework. A poll of 1,500 technology professionals revealed that 37% would take a pay cut of 10% if they could work from home, with 36% indicating they would choose it over a pay raise. * Yet some executives are still ambivalent about such a workplace strategy, fearful of loosening their tight grip on employees.
With so much information in support of teleworking, it can be tough to work through the pros and cons, making the debate that much more difficult. We’ve sifted through the advantages and would like to share with you the top four reasons companies across the globe have embraced the telework contest, along with numbers to back it up.
You decide for yourself - is telecommuting a positive workplace strategy?
Boosts Morale & Increased Flexibility
It’s no secret that happy and engaged employees are more productive. Between the daily commute, the rat-race, and struggling to find a happy balance between work and home life, employees often find themselves feeling tired and overworked. Those with a telecommuting arrangement, even if just a weekly flex day, experience a tremendous boost in morale, finding more time to take care of both personal and professional responsibilities. In fact, 78% who call in sick actually aren’t. They do so for family and personal needs or because they simply need a mental health day. Unscheduled absences cost employers $1,800/employee/year, adding up to $300 billion/year for U.S. companies. * Offering telecommuting as an option offers the flexibility your workforce needs to take care of all their responsibilities, resulting in a more focused and engaged employee.
Top Talent Acquisition
Regardless of company size or industry, businesses that limit themselves to just one region or location put themselves at a severe disadvantage. Enterprises who allow their workforce to work remotely instantly expand their talent pool, especially when it’s time to recruit for open positions. The benefits of telework go beyond simply attracting top talent; it boosts retention as well. 46% of polled companies reported reduced attrition after allowing telework, and 95% indicate that telework has a substantially high impact on employee retention. With employee rollover costing between $10,000-$30,000 per lost worker, companies have the potential for monumental savings! *
Despite the numbers, many workplace managers are still concerned, fearful that their employees will feel detached from the rest of the team. Some also express that having teammates set in various time zones will have a negative impact on productivity. On actuality, many businesses have realized just the opposite; with individuals set in different zones, you ensure there is always someone “there” when needed. And, with the right technology in place, team members never have to feel detached. They can take part in that important meeting via video conferencing. As their manager, just make sure you communicate with them frequently, keeping them in the loop on the latest news they might miss by not being around the office.
In the traditional office setting, productivity is often measured by how long you are sitting at your desk. The remote worker, however, isn’t visible to their workplace manager, forcing managers to focus more on performance and less about time itself. The key is to develop an accountability strategy that keeps everyone on track, without micromanaging. Accountability without being oppressive.
If you have ever worked in an office setting you probably know all about workplace distractions. That colleague that talks too loud on a phone call or the friendly woman in Accounting who stops by every day to say “hello.” In fact, businesses lose $600 billion a year in workplace distractions. These constant distractions mean less productivity - a negative for both the enterprise and employee. While face-to-face encounters can help in relationship-building, there isn’t much work that can be accomplished sitting in the meeting room that can’t be accomplished remotely, using collaboration tools.
Part of your job as the workplace manager is to actively and consistently seek out ways to cut expenses without sacrificing service or product. An organization’s real estate represents one of their largest expenses, second only to costs associated with their workforce. It makes sense, then, that teleworking stands to significantly reduce an enterprise’s overhead expenses. If you have not already invested in mobile technology, now is the time to do so. The initial investment might feel like a financial burden, at first, but the workplace of the future is upon us and our workforce has to have the tools to operate without boundaries.
By allowing employees to work remotely, many organizations have decreased their real estate portfolio, saving on rent and other related expenses. In total, businesses have reported a savings of approximately $8,000 a year per employee; IBM reported a savings in real estate costs of $50 million. Imagine what positive changes you could make with that kind of change in budget.
The technology that companies adopt to enable telecommuting allows teams to collaborate in real time from anywhere members are located. Participants can access teleconferencing, web conferencing and "telepresence" from almost anywhere. So, when people can’t be in the same physical place, the meeting will still go on.
I suspect, as Marissa Mayer and her executive team continue to rebuild the company culture, they will begin to realize the benefits of having a more remote workforce again. The future workplace is here and the rules have changed. Today’s workforce wants to work hard and know that management trusts them to be flexible and still get the job done. Now is the time to build a culture that celebrates the differences that make each employee unique and build a solid foundation based on trust and respect. Aside from technology, the most important elements of a successful telecommuting strategy is a clearly defined set of rules and expectations and a talented workforce. Offer those tools and your employees will prove they can and WANT to succeed for you.
Does your company allow telecommuting? If not, why? If so, what benefits have you experienced, both on a personal and organizational level. Please share your opinions and ideas in the comments below.
Statistics resource: Global Workplace Analytics