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A new year came, and with it so did a hope for more normalcy, even as many of us roll out of bed to work from home. In-person shopping, dining, playdates and even weddings have all started to come back. So, if you’ve been working remotely because of the pandemic, you may wonder, “Is it time that we go back to the office too?”
When it comes to where and how we work, many of us are unsure we want to revert back to full time, in-office schedules that require lengthy commutes and unnecessary time away from home. After all, we’ve proven that it’s possible, if not more efficient, not to return to the office.
While remote work wasn’t an entirely novel practice before 2020, it is most definitely more widespread today. And many people who were new to the work-from-home way of life have now come to embrace it—even if they had a rocky start.
In fact, it seems that a majority of professionals prefer a remote or hybrid work model so much so that they are willing to leave their current position if it requires regular in-person working hours. This mass exit has become so common across various industries that the movement has been dubbed The Great Resignation.
Sure, there are various elements that contribute to that record-breaking number, but the rejection or hesitancy on behalf of some businesses to continue remote work remains a driving force behind the large number of “quits.”
Employee retention is a very valuable motivation for making remote work the new normal for your team or company, but it’s not the only reason. Some benefits like productivity levels for remote workers and an increase in prospective talent may even surprise you.
Take a look:
Better Work-Life Balance
Out of office teams are set up for a better work-life balance, as they are less stressed due to the flexibility that remote work offers.
They can take care of urgent personal matters, make wellness appointments, or care for loved ones all without the level of disruption that would occur in a traditional office setting. Ironically, this can also lead to less “out of work time,” in that an employee won’t need to take a full day off for a virtual doctor exam or dentist appointment—unless we’re talking about a root canal.
But it’s important to note that creating an environment of balance doesn’t stop at simply letting people work from home, but allowing them, as management, to take advantage of that flexibility. Turning off work for the day can be hard when you work from home. Without a physical separation, employees can become more prone to burn out as the line between home and office blurs.
This only makes it that much more critical for leadership to communicate the need for non-work related outlets and downtime.
As Lance Herrington, founder and CEO at UNICO Nutrition Inc. puts it, “Our employees have their own lives outside of work. They have their children’s soccer games, dinner with friends, or personal hobbies they use as a stress reliever, and many of these activities weren’t available to them for the last two years of the pandemic. As the world starts to reopen, they’ll prioritize these activities that they’ve been without for so long.”
With a remote work setup, they’ll have more time to spend on these activities.
Another somewhat ironic plus to remote work: less time in a physical office space can lead to more time for work.
Contrary to popular belief, many individuals find that they have more time to spend on their actual work thanks to the elimination of a commute and the general down time spent at the office in between meetings, coffee breaks, and mandatory chit-chat with people you’d probably rather never speak to again.
In some instances, remote work has improved how business is executed and can result in a better end product or consumer experience.
For instance, Travis McCain, VP of Marketing at General Steel, explains how more flexible remote schedules helped improve customer service interactions for his company.
“Customer service is something we like to automate because it’s something available 24/7 to assist customers with any basic questions or concerns, but sometimes when an issue arises and time is of the essence, having a live person contact the customer can be the saving grace when it comes to customer retention and avoid a purchase crisis.”
“…having a live person contact the customer can be the saving grace when it comes to customer retention and avoid a purchase crisis.”
With some team members preferring to work really early or late in the evening, the company is able to offer more real person solutions and mitigate customer service issues.
Not to mention that some people are more comfortable communicating virtually thanks to some common video conferencing features. Individuals can “raise their hand” via an emoji or send a live chat to the group if they have a point to add or a question to pose, but don’t want to interrupt or interject vocally. In these instances, they are able to get their point across, and in turn, can produce or solve problems more efficiently as well.
Savings on Operations Costs
Here is an obvious benefit that many business owners have touted as a valuable trade-off. Sure, there may be some startup costs when setting up a team for remote work (think: collaboration software, extra monitors and headsets). But, once you get past that initial hump, you’re bound to save on recurring expenses that come along with running a business.
These savings can include big ticket items like rent for your office space and utility bills, but also smaller operational items that can add up including things like toilet paper, coffee and snacks. In general, you will have less overhead, so that you can put money into new tools that will benefit your business.
Not only will you save monetarily, but you’ll also lessen your business’ environmental load. Overall you’ll contribute to a reduction of carbon output by electing not to have an office, and not having people commute to it.
You’ll also avoid the risk of people coming into the office sick and spreading germs. Office sicknesses have long been an aggravation even before the days of COVID.
All of these can also result in what is known as “Business Interruption,” which involves any disruption in the operations of your business that results in revenue loss. If your business hasn’t switched to a work from home model, these interruptions could be all the more costly.
Increases Your Talent Pool
You can also use some of those operational savings to attract top talent. You’ll be able to open up recruitment opportunities to a global candidate pool, because remote teams can hire the best person for the position, no matter where they live.
This wealth of choice in hiring can increase and promote diversity and inclusion across different cultures and disability groups. Work from home also promotes “Blind Hiring,” avoiding biases that, while sometimes unintentionally, can make recruiting difficult.
Disabled workers in the US, for example, can have an extremely difficult time finding an employer with a physical office space that meets all of their needs. This is one contributing factor to people with disabilities being more likely to be self-employed than those with no disability. Further, unemployment rates for those with a disability were higher than for those without a disability across all educational attainment groups according to a 2020 Labor Force Characteristics Summary.
“The option to control your space is nice for fully-abled workers but can be an absolute game changer for those with disabilities or chronic illnesses,” notes Jon Hill, the CEO and chairman of the executive recruiting firm The Energists.
“Remote work allows those with disabilities to create a fully-accessible, comfortable workspace that puts them on equal footing with their able-bodied coworkers.”
Promotes an All-Around Healthy Environment
If your people are happier and leading more balanced lives, they will typically be healthier in mind and body.
It’s important and healthy for employees to have an identity outside of work. Still, it can be tough for individual workers to put this into practice on their own. So, it’s vital for managers and HR teams to do their due diligence by periodically checking up on staff to make sure that they’re doing okay.
Ultimately, when it comes to the decision of going remote for your business, you should focus on what is most important. And we think that’s your team’s overall well being.
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