Although most of the people on my immediate team live in another time zone, I feel more connected than ever. Luckily for me, Appirio is a company that embraces a culture where employees can work from anywhere. Thanks to cloud-based tools like Google Hangouts and Salesforce Chatter, I can collaborate with my coworkers instantly — even from my patio chair on sunny days.
As long as enterprise technology is used to its full potential, having remote employees shouldn’t feel much different than having them down the hall in a cubicle. (Where you know they’re probably looking at Facebook anyway.) The truth is, the Future of Work is about mobility. In order to retain top talent and gain a competitive edge, it’s important to move toward technological advantages — not avoid them.
Are remote employees good for business?
So obviously those of us who work from home see the benefits, but do remote employees really benefit businesses? A 2015 study by the Harvard Business Review shows that people who work from home are in fact more productive than those who work in an office.
Here are some key benefits for businesses:
- The ability to hire top talent. Rather than choosing only from candidates within a 40-mile radius of your office, you can access talent from anywhere.
- Less money spent on office space. Unless you need an especially large, fancy space to show off to clients, you can save a considerable amount by cutting back on office space if many or all of your employees work from home.
- Greater retention/reduced attrition. According to Global Workplace Analytics, two-thirds of employees would take another job to ease their commute. 95 percent of employers say the ability to work remotely greatly impacts employee retention, and nearly half of the companies that currently allow employees to work remotely say the flexibility has reduced attrition.
Ensuring success — from a distance
Remote work may not seem like a natural choice for your organization. But with the right solutions in place, you can boost productivity and have face-to-face interactions without having to be in the same location. Here are some simple ways to ensure everyone’s needs are met away from a traditional office setting:
- Set a schedule. Employees need to be fully accessible and working during your organization’s standard business hours. But working remotely doesn’t mean 24/7 access; they also need to feel comfortable powering down once the workday is over.
- Create a distraction-free work zone. Working from home means fewer interruptions. But it’s important to create a distraction-free workstation at home — whether it’s an entire room or just a desk.
- Always break for lunch. It’s easy to get caught up in work when there aren’t hordes of people to go to lunch with, and no noisy break room to eat in. It’s important to remember not only to take breaks when working from home, but also to remember to take at least 30 minutes for lunch every day.
- Communicate. Team meetings, one-on-ones, impromptu huddles — all of these interactions can fortunately take place virtually nowadays. With Google Hangouts, Skype, or another form of video chat, coworkers, managers and their teams, and clients can make face-to-face contact as often as needed.
Want to learn what else the Future of Work holds? Check out our eBook: The Future of Employee Engagement.