Too often, working from home is illegitimized. Remote working often conjures images of writers and creatives sitting in their pajamas, sipping coffee, browsing the web. But it turns out that in this day and age, remote work is no longer a cop-out. It’s the new normal.
A study by And Co found that 73% of remote workers are new to the game, meaning that they’ve only started working remotely in the past four years. However, 80% of respondents said they want to work remotely as long as possible. Since this trend shows no signs of slowing, managers are learning to embrace the remote work revolution. And they’re finding that remote work isn’t just more comfortable for the worker, but benefits everyone involved.
Some are hesitant to embrace remote work because it’s more difficult to make sure employees are making good use of their time, but the reality is that remote work actually saves everyone time. Telecommuting saves time spent in traffic, makes meetings more efficient, and overall actually increases productivity.
According to the 2017 State of Telecommuting in the U.S. Workforce Report, working remotely even just part-time gives back 11 days worth of time in a year that would previously have been spent commuting. And with the population and our unfortunate dependence on cars only rising, saving time in our commutes is becoming increasingly valuable over time.
Remote work not only saves the time spent stuck in traffic but also time unnecessarily wasted by certain meetings. The dreaded “meeting that could have been an e-mail” is all too familiar, and remote work eliminates that dread entirely. Either the meeting becomes an e-mail, or becomes web-based. And Global Workplace Analytics discovered that web-based meetings tend to be “better planned and more apt to stay on message.”
Workers not wasting time in traffic or meetings inevitably become more productive. Companies like Best Buy and Dow Chemical show that teleworkers are 35-40% more productive. In fact, over two-thirds of employers report increased productivity among their telecommuters. This all goes to show that not only is remote work a great excuse not to commute, but also a great way for many teams to actually have time to get more work done.
Consequently, remote working saves companies a boatload of cash, and can even increase their bottom line, while also saving the individual workers’ money too.
When it comes to operating an efficient office, there are a lot of factors to consider. There’s heating, cooling, utilities, and a seemingly endless list of maintenance tasks for any corporate property. Unsurprisingly, all of those important, necessary things can quickly become very costly. Not to mention factoring in the $600 billion a year that businesses lose in workplace distractions!
Additionally, And Co discovered that 62% of remote workers chose the telecommuting life for flexibility to live where they wanted. Not having to live close to where you work can drastically affect your cost of living, so you don’t turn out like that couple on HGTV who always finds the perfectly priced place but “it’s not close enough to work.”
In fact, Global Workplace Analytics found that one of the most frequently cited sources of savings for employers and remote employees alike is real estate costs. Sun Microsystems saves $68 million a year in real estate costs thanks to remote workers, and IBM slashed real-estate prices by $50 million just by allowing employees to telework.
Even part-time telework saves big, according to Global Workplace Analytics’ calculations, which show that if every American with a telecommuting-compatible job worked remotely part-time, U.S. companies could collectively increase their bottom line by up to $665 billion a year. Meanwhile, the employees working from home can save $2,000 to $6,500 a year themselves.
Saving the Planet
In our concern with the cash savings, we shouldn’t forget what else we’re saving with remote work--the Earth! Telecommuting has been shown to reduce foreign oil dependence and slow global warming. Reducing our carbon footprint is something we can all get behind, especially considering the latest UN climate change report.
According to the State of the Telecommuting Workforce, the 3.9 million remote workers in 2017 reduced greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of 600,000 cars. And those who work at least part-time from home are cutting miles traveled by 7.8 billion, avoiding 3 million tons of greenhouse gases.
A significant amount of harmful greenhouse gases come from the traffic jams we face on our regular commutes, which can idle away almost 3 billion gallons of gas, and account for 26 million extra tons of greenhouse gases. Global Workplace Analytics suggests that if that kind of traffic keeps up, we’ll destroy not just the ozone layer, but our national productivity as we spend even more time on congested roadways.
Considering that remote work saves on the costs of office space, it’s no surprise that remote work cuts energy costs, too. It even cuts down on our waste by relying on digital documents rather than paper, not to mention you can make your own coffee instead of using those pesky styrofoam cups.
Saving our Sick Days
Remote work also cuts down on the productivity losses that come from illness and injury, which are more costly than one might think. Absenteeism costs U.S. businesses millions of dollars, while those that push through illness and come to work anyway end up spreading germs around and getting less done regardless. And those that don’t show could be sick, or just far too stressed.
Global Workplace Analytics reports that 78% of employees who call in sick are actually dealing with family issues, personal needs, and stress. Remote working provides the flexibility to address those problems on their own time so that their working time is even more fruitful. Employees can also schedule appointments and meetings without having to take the entire day off.
Ultimately, remote work makes space for the work-life balance that we’re all craving and cuts business losses from absenteeism.
Saving the Search Committee
Remote work options also strikingly increase employee retention, which is becoming more and more difficult in our current economy. The cost of turnover is remarkably high, in terms of both finances and productivity. 72% of employers admit that telework has a drastic effect on attrition, and ⅔ of employees admit they’re willing to take another job, if for no other reason than to reduce the commute.
Saving the World, One Teleconference at a Time
The remote work revolution is here, and it’s not slowing down for any of us. Yes, telecommuting is changing everything, but likely for the better.
Gone--or at least significantly reduced--are the wasted hours in traffic, the smog of commuting to work, the costs of running elaborate corporate buildings or unnecessary meetings. Pajamas or not, it turns out we’re more productive untethered to an office and saving a lot of money while we’re at it.