According to Harvard Business Review, 40% of the existing worldwide workforce are virtual workers (people who work remotely). This is trending upward and will continue for several important reasons. First, a remote work policy facilitates a powerful way to attract top talent, especially Millennials and Gen Z, the two generations who value autonomy and scheduling flexibility the most. To quote Bob Dylan, “The times they are a changing,” and organizations need to change with them. Given that reality, the business case for remote work becomes even more compelling. Second, flexible work hours and allowing employees to work remotely makes clear and fundamental business sense. The statistical ROI-based research illuminates that working from home makes sense for both employer and employee. Simply put, the business case for remote work has been proven.
Having good virtual work policies is highly correlated to:
• Best-in-class status. In fact, 82 percent of Fortune Magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For already have remote work policies.
• Higher productivity, largely due to the fact that virtual employees work an average of four hours more per week than people who go to a company site.1 In addition, 81% of employees who have worked remotely report that they were more productive than when they worked at a company site.1
• Avoiding the thief of workplace productivity: interruptions. According to a 2018 Basex Research study, the average on-site office worker is interrupted 60 times each day. Furthermore, this study revealed that after being interrupted, the average worker gets back to the task at hand only 40% of the time. This means that after the interruption, the remaining 60% must start whatever they were doing all over again. Check out this blog post for more info on workplace interruptions:
• Better talent attraction and retention, largely due to eliminating geographic restrictions on the talent pool.
• Enhanced recruitment capabilities and lower recruiting costs.
• Cost savings from the reduced need for renting or buying physical working space and eliminating many overhead costs to maintain onsite facilities.
• Higher customer satisfaction due to better coverage across different time zones.
• Increased insight into other markets by having your workers all over the country, or even all over the world. Employees become keenly aware of local preferences, dislikes, and opportunities, leading to important innovations, new products, customers, and ultimately, higher profitability.
• Lower absenteeism and higher engagement. Gallup’s 2017 State Of The Global Workplace Study proved that these virtual workers are more engaged (32% versus 28% engaged for onsite employees). Absenteeism costs the average American employer $3,600 per hourly employee, per year.2 Additionally, it costs the average American employer $2,650 per salaried worker, per year.2 Even the small percentage increase on engagement can result in significant cost savings, especially for larger organizations.
• Eliminating the stress of commuting to work. Job stress is the number reason why employees resign.3
• Cost savings for the employees, since costs for gas and train/bus fares are reduced or eliminated.
• Improved reputation and good PR from being a “family-friendly” employer.
• A reduced carbon footprint, which highly engages Millennials and Gen Z due to their desire for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
• Higher innovation and creativity. According to a May, 2014 Wall Street Journal article, only 10% of workers believe they do their best thinking at work, versus 39% who believe they do their best thinking at home.
• Greater work-life balance, which is highly prized by Millennials, the fastest growing generation in the workforce.4
Each year, the population of remote workers grows, and observing this pattern contributes to the belief that remote work is here to stay. In fact, Harvard Business Review also reported that by 2020, over 50% of the world’s workforce will be remote.
To remain competitive in this increasingly distanced world, the decision for your organization to move toward more virtual work should be an easy one. Share the business case for remote work with your management team and see if you can better leverage this opportunity!
On a side note: I am available to help coach “old-school” managers into believers in remote work and flexible work hours. Please call me if you need help in this regard!
1 Gallup – 2017 State Of The Global Workplace Study.
2 Forbes Study, June 6, 2018.
3 HR Solutions, Inc and Gallup Studies.
4 February 1, 2018 Frisco Style Publication.