Some things you finish and it couldn’t have been done soon enough. Like reading The Scarlet Letter in high school English or holding a conversation with a distant relative about the diets of mole rats. For a lot of companies, that thing they couldn’t wait to be done with was remote work. The pandemic made businesses accept telecommuting, but it didn’t mean they had to like it. However, companies that close themselves off to remote work are missing out on the benefits of telecommuting. And their employees are too.
Maybe you’ll laugh, just reading “benefits of telecommuting for companies.” But remote work can truly benefit your business. For some industries or job roles, remote work is an impossibility. In others, it offers an opportunity to maximize on spending, increase productivity, attract and retain talent and mitigate risk. Let’s explore how, starting with spend.
Making the most of spend means rethinking the traditional ways a company does something. And that’s a big challenge. There are just places in the budget that get trimmed. It’s how it always works. But there’s a better way.
Dedicated office space can cost thousands of dollars per employee each year. This number depends a lot on the city and headcount. A company operating in New York City with 500 employees spending $16,000 per seat annually is going to benefit more than a mom and pop shop in Wichita, Kansas. But businesses of any size looking to control costs can embrace telecommuting and reduce office space costs considerably.
There are several approaches, including going complete remote, or shifting to a hybrid approach with desks open to employees that come in two or three days each week. In either situation, employees will be making use of their home offices and internet. Employers should be reimbursing employees based on the business use of these personal assets. At the end of the day, it’s costing less than office space and the reimbursements can be calculated to consider both their job role and location costs.
What do you do when you’re at home? For years, it was a place to relax, spend time with family, maybe enjoy a hobby or two. Maybe if things get really crazy, the home was a place to get some work done. But for the most part, it was a place safe from work. So when employees began working from home, there was, and still is, an apprehension. Who’s going to be working harder when they’re at home? According to a Microsoft study, 85% of leaders believed adopting a hybrid approach “has made it challenging to have confidence that employees are being productive.” Yikes.
But there’s plenty of research into this and the data is clear: employees are often more productive when working from home. How can that be? Well, when employees are working from home, without worrying about a commute, they can start work earlier and end later. Without someone watching over their shoulder, they’re also less likely to engage in fake work. They’re not pretending to do things at their desk when their tasks are accomplished and they’re just waiting for the clock to wind down. There is one more reason for increased productivity from home, but it belongs in the next section.
Employees working for a company that they perceive as caring about them are more engaged. Awesome, right? So how does a company show its employees that they care about them? They take their wants into consideration. And a lot of employees want to continue telecommuting. Working from home is a benefit to them in a number of ways.
It could also result in the opportunity for de-location. Companies offering de-location packages to new hires are giving them a stipend to live in any place of their choosing. Take Zapier as an example. They provided new employees $10,000 to move from their home base in San Francisco. The reason was simple: cost of living in San Francisco is impossible. De-location is an opportunity for the new employees to start fresh somewhere else and for the company to attract top talent. It’s also an opportunity specific to the flexibility of remote work.
That benefit improves when you reimburse them for the business use of their home office and internet. And these benefits aren’t just keeping current employees engaged. It’s also a big bonus for prospective candidates. What employees want inside your company often match the wants of the candidates you’re looking to hire. Telecommuting and receiving an equitable reimbursement for the business use of their personal assets is a jackpot for both current and future employees. What’s more, it widens the talent pool your company can hire from.
We’ve talked about the benefits employers see through telecommuting. And we’ve scratched the surface of how telecommuting benefits employees. But there’s a lot more there to explore. Employee benefits of telecommuting also include efficiency, flexibility and cost savings.
Employers aren’t the only ones concerned with cost savings. Fortunately, on days when employees work from home, they don’t have to travel to work. That means they aren’t spending money on gas or public transportation. Also, working from home they may be more inclined to eat the food they already have available to them. Unless their meals are paid for, employees are either already bringing food from home, or going out for lunch. This might not sound like a lot of cost savings, but over the course of weeks and months, those costs add up.
As we shared earlier, employees working from home are more productive. Business leaders concerned about at-home productivity worry employees will be distracted. But the office isn’t free of distraction. There’s water cooler talk, meetings that might not be strictly speaking necessary, even the ambient noise of other people working can be a distraction.
Sometimes, employees required to commute to the office will find they’re the only one there. Or they’ll find themselves in meetings all day with people in other locations. These and other situations lead employees to wonder why the company’s in-office requirements exist.
For many employees, working from home is simply more comfortable. Without the distractions of the workplace, they can focus on their day to day. And, as we shared earlier, they’re more productive for it.
Finally, and maybe most importantly, working from home means flexibility. Time and time again, the data shows employees value flexibility as a benefit. Working remotely means they have more of a choice over their schedule. And companies are embracing this as a benefit to offer. Why care that they’re doing laundry mid-day if they’re getting their work done? So what if they’re signing off early to grab their kid from school? How important is 9 to 5 when work life can be configured to meet the needs of both employer and employee? Not only do employees value flexibility as a benefit, it comes at no additional cost to employers.
Lots of companies are looking to bring employees back to a physical office. Reasons range from company culture and productivity concerns to sunk costs and layoff avoidance. Let’s take a quick look at the perceived problems of remote work.
Employers may take issue with remote work in any number of ways. Topping the list may be a claim of diminished productivity. However, in a study of 1,356 working groups, researchers found that remote workers can be as effective as those working in the office. It’s not about where employees are working, but how they are working. Employees supported in their collaborative efforts stand a better chance of success than those who are given nothing. Additionally, remote environments are better for gathering employees with a mix of skills than an in-office location.
The days of the traditional office are behind us. Employees aren’t looking for corner offices and break room treats. They value flexibility in their schedule, and the ability to do work as they’re needed, wherever they’re located. Employees also value employers that support them as they work mobile. Companies should provide remote workers with reimbursements for the business use of their personal utilities.
Whether you’re looking for new cost control opportunities or exploring recruiting and retention tactics, understanding your options is important. This post covered some benefits of telecommuting for both employers and employees. We also talked about the importance of reimbursing for the business use of personal assets. It’s one element of our Bring Your Own solution. Learn more about how you can leverage a BYO program to simplify administration and control costs.