Never has it been more necessary to have business practices, equipment, and technology in place to allow employees to work from home. As the workforce struggles to meet the needs arising from this pandemic, industries are either adapting to sending its employees home or closing up shop. In some cases, for good.
The benefits of allowing individual employees to work from home have been well documented before such measures were made obligatory by government mandate and common decency. Even before the powers that be strongly suggested at least 75% of all staff should work from home to promote social distancing, many companies were already moving in that direction. According to an article published in Forbes in 2018, SurePayroll surveys indicated that 86% of people prefer to work alone to hit maximum productivity. It’s no surprise that employees find this arrangement attractive, but employers have many reasons to adopt telecommuting as well, most of them having to do with the bottom line.
Cut down on commute time
Operate a business in a major city, and you are looking at a commute time of more than an hour doorstep to work-desk. During this time, if you aren’t stuck in traffic bored out of your mind, you are braving the health hazards and environmental stressors of dubious public transportation. By the time you or your employee arrives at work, you are anxiety-ridden, possibly sweating, and undoubtedly covered in what millennials are calling “subway germs.” All before you sit down and attempt to be productive.
After you finish regaling your coworkers about the morning’s adventures, inhaling your first cup of coffee (at work), and centering yourself on getting focused, how much time have you lost? Instead, imagine getting up ½ hour before the start of your workday, grabbing a quick shower, a coffee in your favorite mug, and then merely opening your laptop to begin your workday. Logically, the person who works from home is getting more sleep, skipping the outside sources of stress, and can, therefore, start the workday well-rested and ready to be productive. Cutting out the commute cuts out a lot of time wasted.
Cut down on distractions
While working at the office allows employees to develop relationships with coworkers, to foster those relationships, the conversation is constant. Some people can tune it out, or work through the jibber-jabber, but most people find it difficult to focus on details when the conversation is pointed at them.
Working from home allows the employees to create their work environment suited to their specific needs to buckle down and bang out that work the best way they are able. In this way, the conversation is relegated to phone conversations or planned conferences, rather than impromptu drive-by meetings.
Cuts down on stress AND illness
Even when the environment is meant to be fun, and the bosses don’t micromanage, some people just work better on their own. Different circumstances cause employees to experience anxiety, and sometimes being able to work in their own home takes that extra edge off to make a person the best employee. Similarly, if a person is sick enough to feel crappy, but would typically force themselves to come into work to avoid losing a sick day, it makes sense to let them (and their germs) work from home, and save the rest of the workforce from being infected.
Save on overhead
Having individual staff members operate strictly from home saves you from having to pay for their workspace. With the way technology has risen to the challenge of creating virtual meeting places, like Microsoft Teams, an employee need never miss a solitary meeting if there are a functioning laptop and internet connectivity available on both ends. You could run a company with hundreds of employees from a studio apartment.
Be relevant to the emerging workforce
The more employees offer a telecommuting option to newcomers, the more those newcomers are going to look for that option.
Telecommuting has been the direction many companies have been going. With what is happening in the world with COVID-19, businesses that resisted allowing employees to work from home are now seeing how you can run a business remotely. Telecommuting, even for professions we would never consider as being able to be done from home, such as teaching, is becoming more mature every day.
When this crisis is over, employees are going to realize how easy it was to work from home. Employers are going to see the real benefits of offering to telecommute. The genie is being let out of the bottle.
All of this remote work is a test to see how much we can do from home, and depending on how it goes, going to the office may mean something very different by the year 2021.