It’s easy for an individual to identify about a billion reasons why working from home (even just some of the time) would improve their lives. There are many people whom, without the watchful eye of a manager, are incapable of producing. But for must of us, commuting from the kitchen to our in-home office is the impossible dream. Employee requests for telework and telecommuting arrangements are typically met with raised eyebrows and an unspoken assumption that staff will be slacking off or taking advantage. But is this really true? Some of the world’s most successful companies operate under a variety of remote-work models. So what’s the bottom line? Can businesses survive and thrive in a work-from-home world?
Change: The Only Constant
Change is hard. Especially when money is at stake. And although some 301,000 employees in 78 U.S. Government agencies (Office Personnel Management) worked from home in 2012 (ancient times these days), the benefits that range from continuity of operations to reduced office costs are failing to catch on. Kapil Bakshi, a solutions architect at Cisco, believes that despite the benefits, “some agencies have held back from a full-on push for telework because of concerns about costs, information security, and performance”. But the folks as Cisco believe cloud computing leaves companies with no excuse but to jump on the telework bandwagon.
You see, cloud computing keeps company data safe by storing it online and removing the liability of personal devices and roaming work stations. Tablets and mobile devices reduce IT costs for everything from repairs to software management to upgrades where all changes ripple out simultaneously from the centralized application host. Cloud computing also does away with clunky remote access systems, and cloud-hosted systems maintain the lickety-split speed that comes as data is merely projected, rather than transported, to the user.
Happy People are Better Employees
Hey, guess what? People who work from home perform better and are more likely to stay at their job. By removing the pressure and strain of commuting (and making ourselves physically presentable), teleworking actually reduces a lot unnecessary, draining, expensive office activities like:
- Asking a coworker a question before they even get their coat off
- Emailing in traffic
- Starting the workday day with a 20 minute coffee break to recover from the madness of getting a family out the door
- Killing the environment by bringing 100 plus people to a single office via petrol-based modes of transport
Managers who still aren’t convinced would do well to consider the additional reductions in in-office support costs, rent and travel expenses that accompany an office in the cloud.
From a recruitment and retention standpoint, it’s important to note that replacing a staff member costs about 75% of that person’s salary and that companies who offer telework arrangements either full or part time are likelier to retain their workforce. Remote workers also report high levels of job satisfaction and outperform their office-bound counterparts.
Teleworkers can put in longer hours before becoming fatigued and are open to working for lower salaries since commuting and other costs are offset. Companies who don’t need to see a human under fluorescent lights are also considered more attractive to new graduates.
Telework is Here to Stay
This teleworking trend is happening, and only continues to gain momentum. As a manager, if you want excellent work done by great people, it may be time to step back and take another look at allowing your team to work (at least some of the time) from home. It’s likely you will find the benefits outweigh the risks.