This is a guest post from our friends over at Credit. Myles Ma will walk you through the benefits of remote work and how it makes financial sense for companies and employers.
The benefits of remote work seem obvious: An employee removed from their cubicle, transplanted to a cozy coffee shop, a comfortable home office, or even the beach – their productivity unshackled from stultifying office life.
But working remotely can do more than just calm frazzled nerves or improve concentration. Because you don’t need everyone to be physically present, you can find all sorts of places – large and small – to save money, too.
Remote work can not only boost an employee’s budget (no commute, fewer clothes to the cleaners!) but that of their employer as well (greater productivity with far less overhead).
When you aren’t constrained by an office, the list of possibilities is endless.
More popular than ever
Working remotely, or telecommuting, is a fast-growing and increasingly popular trend. A 2015 Gallup poll found that 37% of U.S. workers had telecommuted, four times the 1995 rate.
Technology has advanced by leaps and bounds in recent years, driving up the number of employees eligible to telework and making the process much easier than it was before.
With increasingly sophisticated collaboration software and other smart tools, remote workers are capable of communicating as effectively and efficiently as they would were they still doing their job down the hall.
Budget benefits for employers…
Of course, working from home seems like a sweet deal for employees. But it can also be good for business and your overall bottom line.
Building a team that can work remotely and get the job done on time means greater flexibility and greater productivity – and faster growth. In addition, according to Simon Slade, CEO and co-founder of Affilorama, “By allowing employees to work remotely, you can hire the best of the best while not limiting yourself by geographical restrictions.”
The most talented, qualified people may reside in unexpected places, and enabling a culture of agile work means their skills won’t go to waste.
Many businesses also find that they get more value out of each remote worker.
Gallup found that remote workers log more hours and are more engaged than their cubicle-bound counterparts. Telecommuters average four more hours per week working, Gallup found in 2013.
Remote workers also feel happier and more valued than office workers, according to a survey conducted by TinyPulse.
This job satisfaction translates to savings. Global Workplace Analytics, which researches trends in telecommuting, said more than third of tech workers would be willing to take a 10% pay cut or forgo a raise if it meant they could work from home.
“You’re getting more for your money out of your employees,” said Kate Lister, president of GWA.
Remote work also can cut down on unscheduled absences, since sick employees can work without infecting others and return to work quicker if any health issues arise. If a worker has a can’t-miss appointment, they don’t have to be gone the whole day.
When it comes to customer service, going remote can actually improve your customer experience drastically. Remote workers in different timezones can reduce the time customers wait for support, which can give your business a big competitive advantage – especially if you’ve dialed in your customer service approach by using Kayako to automate the repetitive minutiae.
The biggest benefit to the bottom line is increased productivity. GWA found two-thirds of businesses reported higher productivity from their remote workers. All these factors can add up to $11,000 in savings a year per worker, Lister said.
… and for workers
Commuting is expensive. Census research found that the average cost of driving to work each year, including wear and tear on vehicles, was nearly $5,000.
No matter how one gets to work, commuting there and back eats up precious time — an average of 25 minutes one way, the Census found. Time is money, and an hour a day could be spent working on a money-making side project instead of sitting in traffic.
Remote workers not only can skip their commute but also avoid uprooting permanently for their jobs. They can live in a cheaper part of the country, earning a big-city salary without paying big-city expenses. Picture earning a San Francisco salary while paying Pennsylvania living costs.
Staying at home may also help parents. While working from home can’t replace full-time childcare, the flexibility of telecommuting can make a parent more able to make school dropoffs, pickups, practices, lessons and any other parental responsibilities.
It may also make caring for one’s elders easier. Having an older parent nearby during work might increase a worker’s peace of mind, Lister said.
If businesses allow workers to charge the expense of office supplies to their personal credit cards, there may be a benefit there as well, especially when using a rewards credit card. The worker gets reimbursed for the purchase while pocketing the points, cash back or miles.
How to get started
If you’re an employee, you may be able to use some of the evidence above to convince your employer that you should work remotely.
It might take a bit of time for them to warm up to the idea of letting you work from home. It helps to lay out exactly how the arrangement will work and to be flexible – a day or two a week at home might be better than no time at all.
For an employer, allowing an employee to work from home starts with trust. Bosses have to believe that the work will get done, even if they can’t see it happen.
They also have to be selective about who works remotely. It’s not a good idea to send the worst performing workers home or the approximately 15% of people who simply don’t want to work at home, Lister said. Workers need to have clear goals to keep performing. Management practices should already be solid. Telecommuting won’t create management problems, but it will reveal them.
While making the jump to telecommuting might seem daunting for companies and employees alike, the money-saving opportunities for both workers and businesses make it awfully attractive. With the right training — and the right people — those savings can become a reality.
Myles Ma is a writer and editor at Credit.com. Before joining Credit he worked as a journalist for the Star-Ledger covering northern New Jersey. He’s also covered his home state for Patch.com and the Jersey Journal. He graduated from The College of New Jersey (notice a pattern?). He is adjusting to writing about topics outside of the Garden State.