According to the State of the American workplace documents, nearly four out of ten companies allow their staff members to work from home due to the increased popularity of telecommuting (Gallup, 2013). With the technological advancements over the years, there has been a shift in how remote workforce is perceived. A remote workforce has more benefits compared to an office workforce and more companies are shifting to a remote workforce. The three main benefits relating to the study of businesses are documented below.
With this trend on a rise, a recent survey of business leaders at the Global Leadership Summit in London cited that 34% of attendees predicted that more than half their company's full-time workforce would be stationed remotely by 2020 (Deloitte 2015). In this essay, the aims to determine the benefits of a business employing a remote workforce are documented.
One of the benefits is the productivity of remote staff members. Bloom, Liang, Roberts and Ying (2013), found out that working from home led to a 13% increase in performance, of which 9% was from working more minutes per shift (fewer breaks and sick days) and 4% from more calls per minute (attributed to a quieter and more convenient working environment).
The evidence given shows that remote employee are not susceptible to distractions at home contrary to popular belief are able to work for ore hours although this research did not examine whether the quality of the work produced increased. If the quality of the work increased with corresponding increase in work done, then a remote workforce is ideal for companies. A decrease in the output quality in relation to the amount of output produced will show that a remote workforce is not ideal for companies.
A complication of remote work, in reference to the employer, is that it is difficult to monitor the success of the employees. Telecommuting employers might have to create an autonomous environment to allow them to measure employee success rate according to personal performance and project success, as opposed to the traditional measure of face time.
Telecommuters are able to dedicate more time to their work due to a number of factors, including, but not limited to reduced commute, avoidance of office politics, and ability to separate work time and personal time due to the convenience of working from home.
Okocha (2014) states that that employees would finish work that they started, as intrusive thoughts drove them to complete a task that they once pursued but did not complete. It could be argued that with the increased accessibility to an established office environment, telecommuters would be more likely to complete open items of work than their office colleagues who may have to be office domiciled to access the network.
Noonan and Glass (2013) found that telecommuters are more likely to work overtime than their office counterparts. This is a result of time-saving as remote workers do commute to work every day. A remote workforce is therefore more beneficial to a company.
The probability for working overtime is higher for telecommuters than for non-telecommuters according to the research. The difference between the two groups is the likelihood of working overtime is largest when it is set as 41 hours or more, and smaller, but still significant, when it is set as working 61 hours or more (Noonan, 2012).
Another benefit of telecommuting is employee satisfaction. According to Montero (cited in Templeman 2010), 72% of U.S. workers say that flexible work arrangements would cause them to choose one job over another. Hence more employees are going for telecommuting jobs.
The emotional benefits are two-fold, as the employee's attitude has a direct impact on customer satisfaction, both internally and externally according to a survey done on companies workforce.
According to a study of undertaken by Bloom and Roberts (2013) to measure the impact of telecommuting on businesses, it was noted that young telecommuters at the low end of the pay scale felt lonely when working remotely for extended periods. When given the opportunity to rejoin the workplace, almost half of the participants in the study accepted. Bloom (2013) states that flexibility for workers to work where they prefer to work is critical for retention.
A study by Bloom and Roberts in 2013 found that happy employees are less likely to leave a company, and there is a direct correlation between employee happiness and the rate of attrition. It was also found that although costs related to attrition varied between companies, they are considerable.
The results from a study done by Gajendran (2007) show that telecommuting has an overall beneficial effect because the arrangement provides employees with more control over how they do their work. Autonomy is a significant factor in worker satisfaction, and this rings true in our analysis. Telecommuters reported more job satisfaction, less motivation to leave the company, less stress, improved work-family balance, and higher performance ratings by supervisors.
Workers who had the flexibility to telecommute also noted their ability to maintain a greater work-life balance according to Bloom (2013). It was also found that, as the employees spent less time commuting, they were able to take care of their personal requirements without having to take additional time off work, adding to their satisfaction.
Another benefit that companies with a remote workforce may gain is a potential economic benefit.
Toffler (1980), explains the benefits of implementing a remote workforce.
Commuting cost is more than he cost of installing telecommuting equipment in an employees home. Savings in real estate costs, capital building investments and building maintenance can also be realized through telecommuting. Working from home also reduces pollution and clean-up costs Toffler (1980).
A recent study sponsored by Collaboration Software Company PGi (2014), established that, by switching to telecommuting full time, a business could save $10,000 per employee per year in real estate costs. This money can be used by the business for other purposes. A remote workforce is therefore more convenient for a workforce as compared to an office workforce.
Many companies are trying to recruit skilled workers, and it is challenging to recruit the right talent in the right locations. By expanding geographic reach, cultural diversity broadens and companies can benefit from the socioeconomics according to Bloom (2013).
According to the New York Times (2014), corporations started to factor remote working into their disaster recovery plans following the events of September 11, 2001. It was reported also reported that the government had saved an estimated $32 million during a recent snowstorm by employing an agile work strategy and enabling employees to switch to remote working at short notice. In regions where weather events occur more frequently, the option for employees to work remotely can become necessary to prevent disruption to the business.
In recent years, more companies have shifted to telecommuting (Fisher, 2014). The AMEX stock exchange deployed an electronic trading system following the September 11 attacks, which replaced human trading in global security markets. This protected not only their human capital but also their hardware and data restoration methods.
Although telecommuting provides its advocates with increased productivity, elevated employee satisfaction and cost savings, it is important to realize that distance working does not suit all candidates, companies, or roles (Scheid, 2011). Individual cases should, therefore, be examined for whether the team or role should be given the option of working remotely. The deployment of the program should be monitored, and the management style customized. A telecommuter should have specific, measurable goals and outcomes. There should be a cadence relating to daily communication with management and fellow team members.
From the evidences cited above, a remote workforce is more beneficial to an office workforce. Employee satisfaction, Increase in work output, saving on costs such as commuting and cleanup costs are some of the benefits of a remote workforce. Though telecommuting has many benefits, it can never fully replace in person transactions.
Deloitte, 2015. Global Leadreship Summit. [Online] Available at: https://gls.london.edu/
Gallup, 2010. State of the American Workplace report, s.l.: s.n.
Half, R., 2009. The Edge Report, s.l.: Robert Half International.
Mary Noonan, J. G., 2012. The hard truth about telecommuting. [Online] Available at: http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2012/06/art3full.pdf
Nicholas Bloom, J. R., 2013. Does Working from Home Work? Evidence from a Chinese Experiment. Stanford Business Faculty and Research, Issue 3109.
Templeman, E., 2010. Work Unchained: The Competitive Edge of The Anywhere Office - See more at: http://www.workshifting.com/2010/05/work-unchained-the-competitive-edge-of-the-anywhere-office.html#sthash.CoGJQaPo.dpuf. [Online] Available at: http://www.workshifting.com/2010/05/work-unchained-the-competitive-edge-of-the-anywhere-office.html
Toffler, A., 1980. The Third Wave. University of Pennsylvania Journal of Applied Psychology, 92(6), pp. 1524-1541.
Tugend, A., 2014. Its Unclearly Defined, but Telecommuting Is Fast on the Rise. [Online] Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/08/your-money/when-working-in-your-pajamas-is-more-productive.html?_r=0
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