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Working from home – good for both companies and employees

An ex-colleague turned friend texted me this morning saying “I just brought home my work laptop, an extra big monitor, some contraption meant to secure my data and a docking station. My kitchen table looks like something out of Star Trek and I had to put the toaster on top of the bread machine.”

With concerns surrounding the recent pandemic, a growing number of companies consider embracing remote work in the hopes of containing the virus and decreasing its speed of spreading. So my friend is not the only one setting up a working space at home for an extended period of time.

He had worked from home before but only for a few days and always with a slight pang of guilt as if he was somehow ‘cheating’. But work is work. He said he actually worked longer and achieved more on those occasions than in regular days in the office.

There are a lot of companies still concerned that choosing the remote work option for their employees will turn out to be detrimental to the organizations, as productivity will plummet and the quality of the results will suffer from lack of proper supervision.

Here’s why that worry should be as far away from everyone’s mind as possible.

Read more: Are remote teams the future of the workplace?

There is no need to worry about productivity

Employees favor the opportunity to work from home. A study conducted in 2017 even revealed that the average worker was ready to accept an 8% decrease in salary if it meant working remotely.

Some managers worry that allowing their teams to do their tasks from home will lead to lower productivity, but experience has shown that it’s quite the opposite. This survey of 1004 full-time employees found that:

  • Remote workers take fewer breaks than office workers.
  • They also worked an average of 1.4 more days every month, or 16.8 more days every year.
  • Office workers reported being idle for about 37 minutes a day, excluding lunch and standard breaks, while remote workers proved to be more productive, only citing 27 minutes of unproductive time.

Read more: How to enable innovation and creativity in remote teams

Working from home saves money and protects the environment

One of the reasons people give when quitting a job is the commute. For many it is a waste of precious time they would much rather spend with their families or doing what they love. Furthermore, commutes may be expensive and not great for the planet.

The survey cited above found that compared with office employees, remote workers saved on average $4,523.04 on fuel each year. This also added up to an extra 408 hours, or 17 days, of extra free time each year. All from not having to drive or take another means of transportation to get to an office.

What’s more, those working from home managed to maintain somewhat healthier lifestyles by doing an extra 25 minutes of physical activity each week.

Read more: How remote work can benefit your organization

Working from home ensure business continuity during disruptive times

Large-scale disasters don’t happen often, but when they do they can put a halt to everything within a country. The recent outbreak is a perfect example. Companies of all sorts have to deal with ensuring business continuity and business growth in the most challenging times in terms of human health globally.

Along with guaranteeing the health and safety of all employees, companies still have to continue to deliver their best services to clients. A work from home policy can be the best solution in this situation.

While some employees could never work from home, this is possible across industries nonetheless. Working remotely is a very healthy alternative to crowded open-floor offices and therefore a great way to keep business continuity in times of disruptive events.

The key to efficient work from home

Some managers still worry that if their teams were to work from home without supervision, they will lose focus and do a poorer job. There are also some concerns about how allowing employees to work from anywhere could result in a substantial decrease in both communication and collaboration among coworkers.

However, remote workers have proved to be more productive when it comes to the numbers. A closer look at what rendered them so showed that they have the same (if not better) discipline as in-office employees. Here are some specifics:

  • Taking breaks is the number one most effective way to stay productive (37 percent).
  • Nearly one-third said that having set office hours helps them stay focused.
  • 30 percent also use to-do lists to stay as productive as they need to be.

It’s good to also note that about half of remote employees preferred to have autonomy and be their own boss instead of climbing the corporate ladder.

Read more: How to organize online training for your remote employees and skyrocket their skills!

Finding a good work-life balance is still a challenge

While remote work has all the perks I’ve listed above, there is also a major hurdle that employees (especially younger ones) need to learn to overcome. With 29 percent of the respondents declaring they struggle to find the right balance between the job and their free time, it’s genuinely an issue.

Millennials were raised on devices; as a result, they find it very difficult to stay away from their email and phones and are more likely to be emotionally connected to their jobs than older generations.

Taking (or making) a work-related call or responding to a professional email after hours is a temptation that millennials just can't resist. However, more and more of them have become aware that when your home is also your office, you need to establish boundaries and keep them.

Read more: Things to consider when designing training to upskill remote workers

Closing thoughts

Working remotely has its advantages: fewer distractions, no more commutes, and you can save money, time and the environment. All things considered, it’s a very healthy alternative to crowded offices and a great way to keep business continuity in times of disruptive events.