What do you think of when you hear the phrase ‘remote work’? Do you envisage working from your couch, cozily clad in sweatpants and slippers, tapping away on your laptop? Maybe you picture working from a sun-drenched beach, replying to emails while thinking pityingly of those poor office workers stuck behind desks.
If you’re reading this you probably already know that the reality of remote work can be vastly different from the dream. It’s true that remote jobs come with their own pitfalls and problems (and we’ll cover that soon enough), but it’s also true that remote jobs are our future. Period. The freedom and flexibility working from home offers is only part of the appeal, because remote work benefits the whole world. Hyperbole? Nope. By ‘the whole world’ we mean the whole world. Here’s why.
- Remote jobs are more sustainable
Last week the UN announced that we have 12 years to reduce climate change before the world as we know it is lost forever. These days any business worth its salt is taking steps to reduce its footprint, whether it’s banning plastic or going vegan. Considering that our eco-awareness will only increase as the years pass, surely the environmental benefits of working from home will soon be capitalized on too?
Think of it this way: in the U.S. alone, if every person able to work remotely did so, even for half the time, our green savings would be huge. Studies show we’d save $20 million in gas, $64 billion in oil, slash highway driving by 119 billion miles, and save 54 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Now that’s a reason to skip the commute.
- Remote workers more productive
Research shows that people with remote jobs are more productive than their office-based counterparts; one study found that people with online jobs felt an astounding 91% more productive. There are several reasons for this:
- Remote employees are just happier. Yup, that’s what happens when you have more freedom and no commute. A happy worker is (usually) a productive worker, and finding the right work-life balance is key to success. Sure, when you work remotely you don’t get after-work beers with your colleagues, but if that’s the best thing about your office job it doesn’t bode well…
- Remote employees are adaptable. Who decided that 9am til 5pm was the best time to work? We know we’re all unique, so applying this ‘one size fits all’ approach to our working lives makes no sense. Some of us spring out of bed and are most productive in the morning; others don’t find their flow til nightfall. Take control of your schedule and become more efficient.
- Remote employees are less sidetracked. Anyone who’s worked in an office knows that feeling of annoyance when a meeting alert pings and you’re in the middle of the task. Then there’s the time we spend chatting to coworkers, helping people out, etc. Working remotely removes these distractions so you can focus on your actual job.
- Remote jobs find better talent
Why restrict your recruiting options to one specific area? If you only hire people within commuting distance, you’re seriously limiting your options. By opening up your vacancies to the whole world, you can pick from a higher calibre of candidate. In this era of globalization, why do so many companies still allow geographical restrictions to stop them hiring the best person for the job?
Millennials also crave the flexibility of remote working, so letting people work from home will attract the most dynamic and ambitious young talent. To the next generation, ‘working nine to five’ will simply be a quaint concept some singer called Dolly Parton once sang about.
- Remote work cuts business costs
Rent isn’t cheap, so if businesses can eliminate real estate costs by going remote, why wouldn’t they? Organizations where employees work from home save around $10,000 per person each year just on rental fees. Once you factor in all the added office costs (bills, janitors, furniture, etc.) you’re saving even more. But by going remote you also cut time wastage. The amount of time employees spend slacking off is nuts (and yet, also not that surprising, to anyone who’s worked in an office); studies show the average worker wastes around eight hours a week on things that have nothing to do with the job.
- Remote work reduces costs for employees
Happily, work from home jobs also have big financial benefits for employees. The first is that it removes the cost of commuting, which averages out at approx $5,000 annually. Let’s face it, commutes are usually frustrating and boring. There are a million better ways to spend $5,000. Then there’s the added bonus of being able to make your own lunch from scratch. If you want to rustle up some ramen or a hot-pressed panini from the comfort of your kitchen, do so. Cafeteria food and packed lunches are so 2004.
- Remote tech is advancing quickly
What would we do without tech? Seriously, what would we do without it? Thanks to the unrelenting rise of technology, working from anywhere is becoming easier by the day. To those of us who still remember dial-up internet, this is something we couldn’t be more thankful for.
Instant messaging, project management tools, video conferencing, broadband internet and synchronous communication make working from home (or anywhere you want) seamless. As tech evolves and these tools become increasingly powerful, this trend will only continue to rocket.
- Remote work boosts retention
Recruiting and training employees is expensive. If your workers are leaving after six months because they want more flexibility, it’s time to start thinking about how to hold onto them. Unsurprisingly, one of the best ways companies can improve retention is by introducing working remotely. Around 95% of companies found that letting employees work from home had a huge effect on whether they stuck around or not. When you take into account that two-thirds of people would move jobs if they didn’t have to commute, it isn’t really that unexpected. The people have spoken. Now it’s time for companies to start listening.