The Benefits of Remote Working for Employers and Employees
I've had a varied working life although mainly working in one sector: financial services. I started life as a paraplanner on a three-year graduate training programme to become a qualified financial adviser. After qualifying, I then became a partner in an IFA business for several years. After taking time out to raise a child and live abroad, I decided that I should return to financial services but, still having a young son, I felt that working in a support role would better suit my life, so I became a paraplanner again, but this time working from home.
For the first year back in the industry I worked in an office for a leading local financial services practice. This was very fast-paced and I found there was a lot to learn having been out of the industry for several years. It soon became apparent to me that working in an office at fixed hours was not working well with being a newly single mother and I found that the work-life balance that we are all striving for was mainly work with very little life. This was due to an hour's commute each way to the office with rush hour traffic, consuming the little free time I had after collecting my son, making dinner, completing homework etc.
I realised that something had to change so I approached the company I worked for about homeworking, but it was not currently an option, so I started looking for homeworking positions and the rest is history. My experience so far of working from home has only been a positive one and I feel that more firms should start making this option available to their staff, only for a couple of days per week, if unable to offer full time.
For me, the experience has been an extremely positive one, allowing me to take my child to school and collect him at normal times. I can also build in some time for exercising or for any appointments that may crop up and am able to fit my working day around these, which in turn takes away the headache and stress that I used to have trying to fit these around a 9-to-5 working day.
It's not only employees that benefit from working from home. There are many benefits for employers too, I feel, such as:
- Less time commuting - cutting out the travel to work can save time and boost morale, and it also saves costs on petrol, parking or public transport, so a win all round for both employee and employer.
- Happier workers - everyone seems to be talking about work-life balance these days, and there’s no better way to improve the work-life balance of your employees than to let them work from home. Working from home makes employees happier according to a 2019 study by Saïd Business School at Oxford University. Almost anyone who has had the opportunity to work from home would not want to give it up. By giving your employees this chance, it can increase the loyalty they have to your company and you will have an edge over your competitors.
- Increased productivity - there are more and more studies being completed relating to homeworking. A recent study from Stanford University found that employees who work from home are 13% more productive compared with their office-confined colleagues.
- Lower costs - working from home means a lot less office space is required, if any at all. If you don’t want to make the switch to a completely remote environment, try staggering your employees’ work-from-home days to save on office space. Reduction in office supplies is also a natural saving and, apparently, IBM has saved about $100 million annually on office treats alone since beginning its remote-work programme.
- It is extremely easy - you can be online to the office at all times if you want to as long as you have an internet connection. You can find access to Wi-Fi almost anywhere nowadays, and there are many apps that make remote communication a breeze. For a change of scene and better coffee, I have gone to work in a local cafe many times. A little bit of company can help too as it can get a little repetitive being on your own every day.
- Fewer sick days - Getting burned out is a problem in today's high-paced work environment, and when added to colds and sickness bugs it makes going into the office pretty miserable, but working from home is not so bad (I've done it). Employees who are mildly sick can still get work done in their pyjamas from home. Another bonus is not sharing illnesses. In my previous job we were given extra holidays but weren't paid if we were sick. This was great in theory but in practice it meant that people came into the office when they were sick as they didn't want to use up one of their holiday days on sickness.
- Employees will tend to work longer - Remember the commute to work? If you work from home, you’re at your office right when you wake up. The time that your employees would spend commuting can now be used for real work. I personally find that I will continue to work to complete the project that I am working on before switching off for the evening, if I was in the office and had to collect my child from after school club, I would have been gone when the clock struck 5, regardless of what I was in the middle of.
- You get to work from home - The best benefit for employers? You can access all the perks on this list along with your employees, so why not think about offering remote working for your staff and start to reap the rewards?