Employee engagement is essential to the success of any company. Keeping employees satisfied and happy leads to higher motivation, productivity and loyalty. One way to accomplish that is by offering a variety of large and small benefits that excite and inspire staff members.
At Prosper, our list of perks is pretty impressive for a small company: yearly performance evaluations; paid time off for volunteering; up to $500 for professional dues, education and/or training expenses each year; parental leave; unlimited sick time; and flexible schedules (to name a few).
Personally, being able to set my own schedule is a huge benefit. Better yet, I also get to telecommute. When Prosper was formed in 2013 it was a virtual agency. A couple years later we moved to a fully-furnished office space, but I was able to continue working remotely because of the company’s steadfast commitment to job flexibility and a good work environment.
Telecommuting programs are desirable to organizations for several reasons (besides keeping employees happy). Here are a few of the main win/win reasons 43 percent of employees work remotely at least some of the time.
Benefits of Telecommuting
1. Better Health
The average American commute is 26.4 minutes, meaning we spend roughly 220 hours a year getting to and from work. Research shows longer commutes can have negative effects including increased rates of obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, back and neck pain, divorce, depression and death. These adverse employee health problems can drive up health insurance costs (not to mention lower workplace productivity).
If employees spend at least a day or two working from home, there is also less chance of spreading illnesses. Remote employees report taking fewer sick days than their non-remote peers. They also tend to put a focus on personal wellness. Employees who telecommute are able to take more frequent breaks or even go for a walk during a conference call.
Fewer cars on the road mean lower emissions, fewer traffic jams and accidents, and less strain on our natural resources and infrastructure. Thanks to remote communications tools like video conferencing, companies can also decrease business travel which lowers pollution.
Research shows office equipment energy consumption is also lowered when people telecommute. Remote workers use less electricity and office supplies, which reduces waste and saves money.
3. Decreased Costs
Speaking of saving money, telecommuting can save a typical business $11,000 per person per year if employees work at least half the time at home.
The reason for this is simple. Fewer employees in the office means companies can get by with smaller office spaces which usually have cheaper rents. If remote workers can share resources when they’re in the office, it also means less furnishings and equipment like desks, file cabinets, chairs and computers. Add to that a reduction in office supplies, coffee and water, and transit and parking fees and the cost savings can become significant.
4. Improved Employee Attraction and Reduced Turnover
Every company wants to attract and retain talented and valuable employees. Providing them with a flexible schedule is one way to do just that.
Telecommuting is attractive to people in a wide range of life stages and situations, from an unemployed millennial to a baby boomer who is debating retirement. By reducing geographic barriers, companies are able to expand the talent pool when hiring. Remote work also allows for diversity — many telecommuting positions are filled sight unseen, and people with disabilities who are unable to commute are no longer faced with that obstacle.
As for keeping employees, 95% of employers say telework has a high impact on employee retention. Thanks to remote work, employers no longer have to worry about employees leaving if a spouse gets relocated. Recruiting and training employees is expensive — telecommuting can ease that burden.
5. Increased Productivity
It should come as no surprise that companies lose billions of dollars a year because of workplace distractions. But remote workers encounter far fewer interruptions like water cooler chat than employees in an office.
Studies show that home working led to a 13 percent increase in productivity, and people who telecommuted reported higher work satisfaction. One main reason for this is that having a work-life balance is motivating for employees. The hours normally lost to a commute are given back to an employee. They have the flexibility to work around the other demands in their life. They can focus on their personal interests. And they can work when they’re most productive — some people are early birds while others are night owls.
Remember how I said remote employees report taking fewer sick days? That’s because they usually find the time to work even when suffering a minor illness. They also don’t need to call in sick to attend to every family issue (like a lack of childcare) or extreme weather event (like an icy winter storm). All of this flexibility allows projects to stay on schedule.
Remote employment is a new normal in America. Thanks to a long list of benefits and ever-evolving technology that makes telecommuting easier, there are few reasons for companies to resist offering remote work options.