Last week I started a three-part series on “How Working from Home Benefits Businesses”. In my first post last week, I looked at the benefits that employees will find when working from home. Thank you to those who shared the article, and my hope is that you have begun to realise some of these benefits. This article is Part 2 of the series, where I will analyse the benefits that employers will receive when their employees are working from home.
While it’s easy to assume that one day, hopefully in the near future, employees will begin the daily routine of heading to the office, the concept of organisations moving forward with having a remote workforce is not new. A Fastcompany article from March 2019, which may have been prophetic, states that “remote work isn’t going away anytime soon . . . in fact it will continue to be the new normal.”
If in fact the ‘new normal’ for employers will be work-from-home employees, here are some of the benefits that employers can expect.
A recent UK-based study from Vouchercloud revealed that the average worker is only productive for 2 hours and 53 minutes during a typical workday. According to the study, 79 percent of respondents admitted they were not fully productive throughout the day. The reasons for this lack of productivity vary, but suffice to say that the overwhelming majority struggle to maximise their efficiency while at work.
When employees are working from home, multiple studies reveal that productivity indeed increases. Take away the inter-office disruptions, co-worker drop-ins, and overall lack of distractions that are commonplace in a business office, and it is no surprise that employers will see productivity increase. In fact, an Airtasker study revealed that employers can expect a productivity increase of 1.4 workdays per month from their work from home employees.
In my past, I managed a company where many of our employees worked remotely, and while we didn’t conduct any research-based productivity studies, I can anecdotally state that our remote team was more productive than those who were in the office, which is welcome news for any employer.
Better Customer Service
Delivering great service to your customers begins first with your employees. Any business that has a negative culture and unhappy employees can expect that this will make its way to its customers in poor service. Click To Tweet
As one who has spent much of my 25-year career working with companies on improving their marketing, sales, and customer experience, I can assure you that delivering great service to your customers begins first with your employees. Any business that has a negative culture and unhappy employees can expect that this will make its way to its customers in poor service.
This is where companies can see a benefit in having employees who work from home. Indeed, over a third of UK contact centres list the inability to support remote or home-based agents as one of their top five ‘headaches’. And there is research that shows that those employees who work from home are indeed happier.
While enabling remote working is certainly not a one-size-fits-all approach, it does stand to reason that those employees who prefer working from home and are properly equipped to do so will be happier, which is the cornerstone to delivering great customer service. For example, 75% of agents say when communications technologies fail, they get unhappy at work; and half say this makes them more likely to be rude to coworkers, friends, and family.
Understand that we live in an ‘experience economy’ and customers demand an exceptional experience from the brands they buy from. If companies intend to deliver this, they must begin with the employee experience. Organisations that ensure a happy and positive employee experience will see numerous benefits when those employees deliver incredible service.
Improved Employee Retention
In last week’s article, I shared about one of my previous roles where at times, depending on my timing, I would be assured a one-hour commute to and from the office. While I am known to be a fan of the occasional road trip, I am not a fan of long commutes. It turns out I’m not the only one, as the aforementioned Airtasker study showed that 1 in 4 employees had quit their jobs due to the fact that their commute was too long.
It reminds me of the time I was part of a software company and the decision was made to move offices. When management began to unveil the choices of the new location, the majority of the development team threatened to quit due to the new locations being too far of a drive. Needless to say, the proposed locations were scrapped and something more suitable was chosen.
There are certainly hard costs to onboard a new employee, but beyond that, employers know the soft costs and the intellectual capital that is lost due to employee attrition. Enabling a work from home environment is one simple thing that companies can do, even in the ‘new normal’, to ensure they are retaining their employees and lowering their HR costs.
What Will The New Normal Be?
None of us know what the new normal will look like. Employers across the globe are wondering and at the same time planning for what the next chapter in their business will look like and what will be best for them, their employees, and their customers.
Whatever decision is made, using this time to apply the lessons learned from having a remote workforce can ensure that companies across the globe realise benefits for themselves and those that they employ.
Look out for the final episode in this series next week. In the meantime, for more advice and information about remote working, check out the Remote Working Resources Hub.
Originally published May 05, 2020, updated Sep 30, 2020