There is mounting evidence that shows flexible work opportunities, including flexible hours and working remotely, is beneficial to a company and its employees. Companies can save on space, while employees can better balance their work and home life. Most companies struggle with this notion because they believe employees will take advantage.
Microsoft wrote a whitepaper on the benefits of working from home titled: Work without Walls. In it, Microsoft points out: “Business leaders assume employees who work remotely and take advantage of the policy are not really working. This is because of the loss of control. Employers lose direct oversight and cannot witness productivity first hand.”
Yet, companies can easily maintain control over how employees spend their working hours by setting clear, specific measurable goals and outcomes. It will be easy to determine whether the employee is meeting the requirements.
Remote employees who do meet their goals often have great self-discipline to ignore the unique distractions offered by the remote office space, such as a home. This self-discipline is also an asset to the company as the remote employee doesn’t need to be managed quite as much. There is also evidence that shows remote employees often work over time.
Remote work or flexible hours often contribute greatly to employee satisfaction and improves the physical wellbeing of employees. Flexible work opportunities offer employees more time with family, a less stressful or quieter environment for more concentrated work, removes long commutes, increases productivity and give employees a better work and home life balance.
With a less stressful working environment, employees are also less likely to develop high blood pressure, eat healthier meals and break more frequently. While it might seem odd to employers, but remote workspaces can often offer less distractions. An employee might lock themselves in a quite space at home or go to a library to work on an important project.
An office often has its own distractions such as managers checking in on progress, a co-worker asking for help or a quick coffee break that turns into a longer-than-planned chat. A study by FlexJobs, showed that 54 percent of employees would prefer to do assignments at home.
With a higher employee satisfaction rate, companies are also more likely to retain talent. With the millennials stepping into more managerial positions, it is also becoming more important for companies to consider remote employees. Online educational institute Get Smarter reports that 39 percent of employees have turned down promotions, refused a job or quit because of the lack of flexible work opportunities.
Flexible work is becoming a criterion rather than a reward. There are also various ways of implementing flexible work conditions – not all of which needs to be permanent remote workers. There are:
- Full-time telecommuting, which includes permanent remote employees;
- Part-time telecommuting, which includes employees who work from the office occasionally;
- Compressed workweeks, during which employees work longer hours for four days a week to have an extra day off; and
- Freelance or contract work, where an employee picks and chooses projects that fit within their schedule.
Some companies simply offer a 50/50 split between time spent working from home and the office. This gives employees the opportunity to collaborate with their peers, but also provides them with important “focus time” to finish an important project.
No matter what you think of flexible work opportunities, it is important to start planning for the changing workforce demographic who will surely demand more freedom to work when and where it suits them. You might just be surprised by the value it could add to your business.