These days, a growing number of people have something in common with David Toole, an account representative at Oracle. Toole told MarketWatch that COVID-19 pushed him over the edge in terms of making a big move he’d already been thinking about.
When the pandemic started in March, he and his wife and five kids relocated from the Bay Area to Savannah, Georgia. He still works for the Silicon Valley company, but now he does so from his former hometown, where he’s happy to be raising his kids.
Alan Gilchrest, senior vice president of conversational AI at LivePerson, lived in Bellevue, Washington, before the pandemic. When COVID-19 hit the Pacific Northwest so hard, back in March, he and his family relocated to their vacation home in Waikoloa, Hawaii. He continues to work for LivePerson, but now he starts his workday at 4 a.m. with a meeting based on Pacific time. Still, many would say his living situation is well worth the early morning sacrifice.
Benefits of offering work from anywhere
The COVID-19 pandemic provided businesses with a grand experiment in wide-scale remote working, and they’ve found that it works. Remote work will outlast the pandemic, according to PwC.
A PwC study on executives found that a little more than half of respondents will continue to allow their office workers to work remotely at least one day a week after the pandemic. That survey also found that 72 percent of employees want to work at home at least two days a week.
Today’s technology makes such work-from-home arrangements easier than ever. Meetings still take place, but now they happen via video conferencing. Team members still collaborate as they did before, but now, instead of stepping into each other’s office, they talk using team messaging or phone.
Should your business start planning a permanent remote work policy? Here are some points to consider.
What’s your competition doing? Potential employees generally consider remote work to be a perk, and most want it.
They like having a flexible schedule, working from anywhere, and having a work-life balance that includes less time commuting and more time with family. Employees who work from home also save money on gas, food, clothing, and public transportation, savings that can total $5,000 per year or more.
Remote work is definitely a selling point. Businesses that don’t offer a remote work option may miss out on talent that will, instead, sign on with companies that do offer work-from-home.
2. Global talent
Having a remote workforce means you’re not limited to the talent that happens to live within a small radius of your office. Instead, you’re free to hire the best person you can find for the job, no matter where in the world they live.
And instead of hiring that person and making them relocate to your location—which not every potential employee is willing to do—a remote work arrangement means your business, in essence, reaches out to them where they are.
A global workforce is possible today because of technology such as cloud communications, which enables employees to be productive no matter where their computer sits. It means they can easily access your business resources and collaborate with their teammates from anywhere, with the security in place that keeps your diverse workplace and its information safe.
Gallup research says employees who work remotely 60 to 80 percent of the time, or three to four days of a five-day workweek, are the most engaged. Ninety percent of employees say flexibility in their work situation contributes to their morale.
Gallup also found that remote workers can be 20 to 25 percent more productive than onsite workers. Another sign of employee engagement: turnover at companies that allow remote work is 25 percent lower than in companies that don’t offer a work-from-home option.
Flexible work is one of the perks employees most want from their employers. One survey found that 80 percent of workers would choose an employer offering a flexible schedule over one that did not. Another found that 30 percent of respondents left their job because it didn’t offer flexible work options, and another 16 percent were looking for a new position for the same reason.
It’s important to consider company culture because it’s harder to cultivate among a work-from-home team and 56 percent of employees say a good workplace culture is more important to them than their salary.
It’s trickier to orient a new employee to a company without all the face-to-face interactions we’re used to having. To share the company culture with your remote workers, use effective communications strategies like manager check-ins, newsletters, and employee surveys, to name just a few.
Direct impact on performance
Not offering any possibility of work flexibility will possibly cost you in the future. Not only will you be unable to attract top talent, but you’ll also likely lose potential employees to your competitors, and it will have a direct impact on your company’s performance.
As increasing numbers of firms start offering permanent remote work opportunities, make sure you’re prepared to do the same. Keep in mind that your success will depend on a robust unified communications system that keeps your far-flung employees in close touch with straightforward messaging, audio, video, and web conferencing.
That’s what will make your work-from-home employees successful no matter where they live, whether they’re using a desktop or mobile device, and how often they visit the office.
Originally published Dec 01, 2020, updated Jan 18, 2023