Arguably the greatest cost that any business incurs is human capital. It is expensive to build a workforce, especially taking into consideration onboarding, training, office space, benefits and turnover. More and more, employers are exploring hiring remote employees, and finding that this approach can save money, enhance employee engagement and increase productivity. But is it right for your business? This post will explore the apparent value and the related risks to help make that determination.
A recent study conducted at Stanford, over the course of a nine-month period, found that home workers’ performance increased dramatically (a 13% boost in productivity), while job satisfaction also substantially improved. The study also found that work-from-home employees had fewer sick days.
Enhanced productivity and improved job satisfaction are two significant benefits of remote employment. Happy workers perform better and stay longer, so enhanced productivity is a big consideration when it comes to remote employment options.
When part of your work force is remote, you do not have to provide office space, and often, you can save money on other tangible costs like office supplies, furniture and security. In fact, the Stanford study found that companies save, on average, $2000 for every remote employee. These numbers can add up quickly if you begin to employ several people remotely.
The notorious commute to and from work can cause grumpiness, accidents and even road rage. Some people commute to work up to two hours each way, every single day. Quite aside from the productivity drain, the daily commute is responsible for a great deal of stress. Eliminating this stress, and allowing employees to work in the comfort of their home, can lead to greater happiness – which again, impacts productivity rates.
Lack of community
The Stanford study identified another interesting trend. Over time, workers did not actually want to continue working from home. They felt lonely, and craved the sense of community that an office environment provides. Even after the benefits were realized, there was an unexpected risk that workers would feel isolated from the rest of the organization.
This insight is helpful as you consider the possibility of remote employment. Make sure you put in safeguards to preserve a sense of community and connection for remote employees who might not otherwise have opportunity to interact with the rest of the organization.
Yahoo learned this lesson the hard way when it was forced to re-evaluate its work from home policies.
When your employees are all working under one roof, you can implement tight security controls. They are using your networks, your hardware and your software – you can monitor them with as much visibility as you please.
However, when workers are dispersed, and often using different networks, their own computers, with little-to-no visibility into their day-to-day activities, it is harder to maintain the same sense of control.
This is very important to keep in mind. As you leverage technology for remote employees, make sure that this is thoroughly addressed in a manner that aligns with your corporate security standards.
Before you make a sweeping decision to allow employees to work remotely, consider all of these risks and rewards. And then test it out slowly, and measure the impact to your business.
For more information about how remote working can help your business to grow, contact Miller Bernstein today.