Work at home options are becoming more and more popular with employees, but are these arrangements good for employers?
With a recent study finding that 91% of telecommuters felt more productive working remotely than in the office, it’s hard not to want to take this idea and run with it. But there are a few key things to consider.
First, the advantages
Today’s employees love being able to make choices about when, where, and how they work.
Offering work at home options may give you the edge when it comes to recruiting and retention. In addition to feeling more productive, remote workers also reported feeling more valued and having higher levels of job satisfaction. They also said they were more likely to remain with the organization than their office-bound counterparts.
Allowing for remote employees can also open up your hiring pool significantly. Have a great candidate who isn’t interested in commuting, relocating, or sticking to a rigid 8 - 5 schedule? These things are no longer automatic deal breakers.
Work at home options allow your employees to be productive without physically being in the office. Major snow storm? No problem. Make some cocoa and work in front of the fire. Systems down in the office? Grab your laptop and head to a cafe. A little under the weather? Instead of taking a sick day, employees can log hours from home— without exposing the rest of the team to their illness.
Employers with telecommuting programs in place have reported:
- lower levels of absenteeism
- fewer employee sick days
- increased hiring flexibility
- lower turnover
- reduced overhead costs
Those are some pretty great benefits!
How to design an effective remote work program
It can be difficult for remote teams to feel and stay connected, but that doesn’t mean you need to toss your telecommuting plans out the window. Instead, use this opportunity to design programs that address these issues from the beginning.
Here are three key ways to help make your remote work strategy a success.
1. Embrace technology
Communication and productivity are important for every organization, but even more so when you have remote workers. The good news is that there are a million technology tools to help your team stay connected and on track.
Programs that facilitate video conferencing and screen sharing like Join.me and Skype help coworkers collaborate from different offices, time zones, and even countries. Instant messaging apps like Slack and Teams allow everyone to have conversations and “hang out” in real time. Project management programs like Asana and Basecamp let everyone follow and contribute to the projects they are involved in.
No matter what technology platforms you’re using, you’ll need to tighten up all of your internal communications to accommodate your remote workers. Posting information in the breakroom isn’t going to do it. You’ll need a strategy that reaches out to all employees, wherever they are and however they communicate.
2. Keep people connected
Just because everyone isn’t in the same place doesn’t mean they can’t be on the same page. If you hire for cultural fit, you’ll end up with a group of people who are likely to work well together, even if it’s primarily online.
That said, you’ll want to take some of that money you’re saving on office space and furniture and invest it in making sure your team gets together in person from time to time. Fly your far away staff in for the company holiday party. Offer to pay mileage for those who are willing to drive into the office once a week. Host regular team meetings and events that entice people to work and play together.
Tech solutions are fantastic, but nothing beats real, live interaction every now and then. Preferably with delicious food and a little fun thrown in.
3. Build a positive culture
If your company culture is toxic, it doesn’t matter where your employees are working from. No one is going to be inspired to give their all. The same is true for companies who have fantastic cultures. Dedicated employees will be even more devoted when they are given high levels of trust and flexibility, even if they rarely step foot in the office.
If your culture is negative, questionable, weak, or undefined, telecommuting may not be something you want to try just yet. In other words, you need to get your own house in order before you let people start working from theirs.
If you’ve built a strong, positive culture in your organization, know that it will be on your side. Put together a remote work program and give it a try! You may be surprised at the positive results it brings.How to Make Remote Work Actually Work