Rarely in the business world does one idea—one fundamental change in thinking—bring profound advantages for both a company and its workers. But the benefits of telecommuting and other flexible work options make it clear they fit that bill.
In the explanatory video, below, 1 Million for Work Flexibility outlines several of the benefits (to both employees and employers) of ensuring flexibility is part of a company’s culture.
Work flexibility is “wanted by all kinds of people, from all walks of life, and for all types of reasons,” says Sara Sutton Fell, founder of 1MFWF, in the video. “Our goal at 1 Million is to get a million people to raise their hands in support of work flexibility, because we believe in the power of numbers. The more people who bring their voice to the table, the more we can actually get done.”
And people who have opportunities to telecommute and otherwise take advantage of flexible work options are getting things done. Such flexibility helps parents continue to work while also raising children. It removes the stress of commuting, giving people more hours to spend with their families, which in turn makes them happier and more loyal. And it lets people work when and where they can be most effective, which improves productivity.
In addition to enhancing productivity, remote work also helps companies by allowing them to recruit the best people, no matter where they happen to live, and to retain those remote rock stars after they’re hired.
Here are five specific benefits of telecommuting and other flexible work options, and why they are a win/win.
Flexible work options increase productivity.
Both anecdotal evidence and scientific research support the notion that people who are granted work flexibility see a boost in productivity. For example, in statistics compiled by Global Workplace Analytics, JD Edwards teleworkers were shown to be 20-25 percent more productive than their office colleagues. And American Express employees who worked from home were 43 percent more productive than workers in the office. That’s partially because people are happier and healthier when they have some control over their work lives.
Flexible work options reduce turnover.
Recruiting and training new employees is expensive. Companies are always looking for ways to improve their hiring processes and to keep the workers they hire. Flexibility and telecommuting can help in both respects. A willingness to recruit remote workers expands the potential talent pool, especially when it comes to millennials who expect flexibility. Statistics also show that flex workers are more satisfied, and thus, less likely to leave a company. Furthermore, companies that offer flexibility generate good word of mouth, both internally and externally, which can help with recruitment and retention.
Flexible work options improve morale.
Workers who can telecommute occasionally or otherwise participate in flexible work plans tend to be healthier, both physically and emotionally. According to The Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College, a study of more than 19,000 employees at nine different companies showed that stress and burnout were lower among workers who had workplace flexibility. Evidence also suggests that flexibility is good for the brain, leading to happier workers who are also more creative. And it may help you build bridges among the different generations in your workforce, reducing the bad feelings and poor morale that can result when millennials, Generation X workers, and baby boomers don’t see eye-to-eye.
Flexible work options are eco-friendly.
In addition to helping workers feel better and more productive, telecommuting can also help your company be part of reducing climate change. Eliminating or cutting back on daily commutes reduces pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Properly using videoconferencing and other remote communication tools can help companies reduce business travel, which also cuts pollution. People who work from home also use less electricity, fewer supplies, and less office equipment, reducing waste. If your business wants to be environmentally friendly, flexibility should be part of its culture.
Flexible work options are cost-effective.
As mentioned, flexibility usually leads to improvements in employee recruitment and retention. Since hiring and training new workers is expensive, this is an obvious cost benefit to a business. But companies that embrace telecommuting may also save money on the purchase or leasing off office space, since they’ll need fewer cubicles for on-site workers. Work flexibility also tends to reduce employee absenteeism, and it can allow companies to more easily match their payrolls to seasonal or other shifts in employment, bringing additional cost benefits. Finally, when a company’s employees can work from home, that business doesn’t have to worry about losing productivity when a huge power outage hits the office, or a storm or other natural disaster prevents travel.
It’s clear that the benefits of telecommuting and other flexible work options extend to both businesses and workers. And as companies embrace these options, life gets better for everyone.
As Sutton Fell says in the video, “Working shouldn’t mean that you don’t have a life. Working shouldn’t mean that you can’t do well at your life.”
If you agree, it’s time to act.
Show your support for work flexibility by joining the 1 Million for Work Flexibility movement today.
photo credit: thinkstockphotos.com
Please note: This post has been updated since its original publication date of Jan 7 2014.