Post Covid-pandemic, office employees seem to have taken an inclination to working remotely as companies also started to implement a hybrid work model. When Covid-19 health restrictions were imposed, what used to be an underground economy of online sellers and work-from-home side hustles, became the new normal of business transactions and company operations. Telecommuting was merely an option given to in-house staff on certain days and only made available as a special arrangement to accommodate specific cases of employees. Technology played a huge part in allowing the economy to survive through a crippling pandemic when brick-and-mortar businesses were closing down and laying off workers.
Back in the day, remote work was frowned upon as employees were believed to be too easily distracted at home to perform efficiently. Supervisors who are into micromanaging felt they needed to always keep a close eye on staff. But does working on-site really prove to be more effective and productive than working from home? To better understand the cost-effectiveness of remote work, let’s take a look at the numbers first.
Office-based Employees and Remote Employees: Productivity Study
In a survey conducted by Airtasker, researchers studied a sample of 1,004 full-time American employees – 505 of whom were working remotely. The results indicated that remote employees were more productive than office-based staff based on their work habits and accomplished tasks. Let’s take a closer look at what the study found:
- Remote employees were found to take longer breaks than on-site workers. The average break of office-based employees was clocked at 18 minutes, while remote workers ticked at 22 minutes. However, the survey showed that work-from-home employees work an additional 10 minutes a day.
- Office-based workers were shown to be unproductive for an average of 37 minutes a day. This does not include lunch or coffee breaks. On the other hand, remote employees had an average of 27 minutes of unproductive time.
- Remote workers clock in an extra 1.4 days per month compared to on-site employees. This adds up to nearly 17 additional workdays in a year.
- 15% of virtual employees say their superiors distract them from work, while 22% of on-site workers said the same thing.
- 25% of office-based employees reported workflow distraction brought about by office politics, compared to only 15% of remote workers.
- Constant interruptions by colleagues affected the productivity of office workers at 34%, but only 16% of remote workers complained about this.
- The daily commute to work negatively affected the productivity of 28% of on-site employees, and only 18% of remote or hybrid workers said this had impacted their productivity.
The numbers appear to be quite encouraging to implement a remote work model, but it is also important to note that work-from-home (WFH) employees showed higher levels of stress and have difficulty in creating a work-life balance compared to their office-based counterparts. Studies by the American Psychological Association presented results that proved increased employee satisfaction among remote workers if a WFH model is done correctly.
What’s the next best move for business owners and managers?
The right decision in planning for the future of a growing company lies in its ability to adapt and learn from its own employees’ own experiences. Companies often don’t listen to their employees with an open mind or a firm understanding of what it takes to be on the other side.
Despite the number of Covid cases leveling off and the availability of vaccines post-Covid pandemic, things have not been the same and may never be the same. The new normal saw many companies adopting a hybrid work model which studies now say shows much promise for success. On the other hand, the issuance of back-to-office policies was no longer well-received by employees who discovered the benefits of working from home.
Company owners and managers must learn and come to a firm understanding of the changes happening. They must come to terms with adapting much more flexible work policies for employees. It is most recommended to begin an assessment process and examine the benefits and risks of implementing remote work with one’s business needs and productivity goals as part of their business strategy.
One perfect example of this is illustrated in a survey conducted by Buffer on working remotely. About 75% of work-from-home employees said their companies do not cover their internet costs while 71% said their employers do not provide co-working or shared office spaces for employees. These numbers continue to improve as many businesses now realize a significant increase in the desire to work from home. Providing incentives is an integral part of being motivated, appreciated, and productive for remote employees.
If your company is concerned about hitting productivity and performance goals with remote employees, create a standard Key Performance Indicator (KPI) for both managers and remote teams. Having this allows you to monitor performance and have an awareness on where to draw the line for expectations.
Future Expectations in Remote Work
While remote work may seem great, the home is not always the perfect work environment for everyone. Pew Research Center studies show that Millennials are the largest generation of the current workforce with many having a completely different outlook on “work”. Most Millennials were found to prefer remote work and would not even consider a job that does not offer a WFH option. It would seem that this generation highly regards having a comfortable work environment, a flexible schedule, and the ability to have a work-life balance.
With this, it would seem that as long as Millennials remain the largest workforce out there, remote work is here to stay. Although many companies will refuse to get pressured by the demand to adopt remote work or a hybrid workforce, the future still see a huge increase in remote work opportunities.
Advancements in technology and communication have paved the way for the smooth transition to remote work. Research data from Fast Company brings predictions for the future of remote work where software, mobile applications, and tools will be much in demand to accommodate virtual employee management. Although some companies will find the transition quite daunting at first, having the right technology and a dedicated virtual staff can lead to a seamless process of employing these new changes.
Fighting these changes and challenges may actually cause more harm than good as many employees nowadays expect WFH opportunities. The desire to work remotely has now seen many companies having difficulty hiring on-site workers. Many refuse to accept on-site job positions because they know there are more companies now that offer a more flexible work policy. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 37% of current employees working remotely said they are more than willing to take a 10% cut from their pay to continue enjoying this work option.
That said, why resist the change and go against the flow? Companies should find ways to improve their work policies and capabilities to enable them to adapt and shift to remote work.
Preparing Your Company For Remote Work
Once you’ve decided to take that big leap toward a remote work model, here are some general steps to guide you:
- Know your playground. Find out which tools and software you will need to keep track of remote employees, whether they are in-house staff or outsourced employees offshore. Set up a centralized information and communication system that is easily accessible and available to everyone. Dropbox, Slack. G-Suite and Monday are just a few of these.
- Allow for a training period. Whether these be current in-house staff transitioning to WFH or new hires being onboarded, ensure that everyone has the proper knowledge of how to use your chosen platforms.
- Set up a reliable payroll system. Online banking and third-party companies such as PayPal can also be utilized for paying the salaries of remote employees.
- Re-write your policies and allow for flexibility. Making these changes will require you to draw up or make addendums to certain policies and contracts. Keep in mind that remote employees are also covered under Workers’ Compensation. Read up and learn more about how these are applicable to your business.
Remote work could be written permanently in the future. What used to be a rare work model that was frowned upon has now taken over the globe through outsourcing and offshoring. Today’s job seekers expect remote work to be the new norm for pursuing their careers today. Companies should be making the necessary changes to their work policies as they prepare to adapt to the increasing demands for remote work. Elite Virtual Staff has long heeded this change. We know how it’s done and can help your company transition with our innovative virtual staffing solutions. Book an appointment with us. Let’s get you started on your path to growth.