empty conference room
PHOTO: Drew Beamer

Job seekers have long been drawn to remote jobs because they provide flexibility in the form of greater personal and professional control over their private lives and careers. Remote workers can largely work how, when and where they want — whether from their home offices, coworking centers, or while working abroad and traveling as digital nomads. They also save money usually spent on daily transit, business attire and eating out.

Yet some businesses hesitated to allow remote working — until their hands were forced by the coronavirus. For those businesses who were previously on the fence, know this: a. the current situation is not indicative of how a well-planned remote work policy goes and b. when done properly, allowing employees to work remotely provides some real advantages to businesses.

If you are considering extending telework options into the future, these six proven business benefits of remote work could positively influence your decision and inspire a modern retooling of your current practices:

1. Lowered Business Expenses

Remote-enabled companies can save money on some of the costs associated with onsite business operations, including office space, equipment and travel reimbursement. Based on estimates from the Global Workplace Analytics Telework Savings Calculator, a single company can annually save $11,000 per remote worker who telecommutes 50% of the time. Depending on the size of your business, this could equal significant savings without radically changing your company structure or completely forgoing brick-and-mortar business activities. 

2. Greater Access to Applicants

Removing geographic obstacles separating employers from the best applicants for their vacancies, telework eliminates hiring borders and leads to more diverse workplaces. From posting job openings to receiving job applications and conducting interviews, hiring managers can select, screen and evaluate candidates in an entirely virtual environment. This recruiting approach prioritizes aptitude, widens the hiring net and allows employers to mitigate skills gaps, like multi-language fluency, that may be present in their immediate area.

Related Article: Can Remote Working Policies Help Improve Diversity in the Workplace?

3. Increased Productivity

The myth of remote workers being lazy pseudo-professionals without real jobs is just that: a myth. In fact, telecommuters have shown to be more productive than employees who work from a physical office. Increased efficiency among remote workers is linked to the autonomy telecommuters enjoy, leading to reduced workplace distractions and more freedom to work during hours they find most productive.

Evidence of the remote work productivity boost is documented in a 2020 Airtasker survey report of 1,004 workers’ daily habits. The survey showed that while remote employees spent more time taking breaks throughout the workday, they also devoted more time on work tasks. Additionally, among employees who had their mouse movement and/or screen time tracked by their employers, only 39% of remote workers sought out work distractions, compared to 56% of in-office workers.

4. Better Disaster Preparedness

If a permanent telecommuting arrangement is not on your radar, formulating a remote work contingency plan in the event of a natural disaster, local or national emergency, or an outbreak of a community-spread illness is a wise choice. During a crisis, staff non-essential to onsite operations could work from home, or another flexible worksite, while utilizing collaborative applications like online meeting software and instant messaging. A temporary telework action plan will help ensure your workers are protected and that your business operations remain stable.

Related Article: Working Remotely: A Manager's Perspective

5. Improved Employee Satisfaction and Retention

Telework is one of the most desired offerings employers can extend to job seekers, so much so that a Mom Corps online survey found that 42% of employees would take a salary cut in order to have more flexible work options from their employers. Surprisingly, working adults aged 18 to 34 — despite the high unemployment rate among adults in this age demographic — would be willing to sacrifice more than 10% of their salaries to achieve the professional flexibility telecommuting provides.

Reiterating the desirability of remote jobs and the reduced attrition rate associated with them, the Owl Labs 2019 State of Remote Work report showed that remote workers are 13% more likely than onsite workers to stay in their jobs over an extended period. This could be attributed, in part, to the fact that professionals working remotely are more likely to earn $100,000 salaries than professionals working in physical offices, according to Owl Labs.

6. Reduced Carbon Footprint

Remote work is good for the environment and, in turn, good for business. Nearly half of all occupied US jobs are capable of being performed from home. Among workers in those positions, 79% want to telecommute. If those US professionals stopped commuting to work and started working remotely, more than 50 million tons of greenhouse gases would be saved from entering the atmosphere.

Incorporating remote work policies into your business plan will demonstrate to potential customers that you are a responsible, environmentally conscious entrepreneur. A Nielsen survey demonstrates how environmental concern from business owners influences consumer purchasing decisions. For a period of 52 weeks ending March 24, 2018, Nielsen found that dollar sales of goods, like bath products, chocolate and coffee, from businesses with legitimate product sustainability claims outperformed the rate of growth for total products in each category.

Related Article: Telecommuting Basics for the Newly Remote Workplace

Remote Work Benefits Employees and Employers 

The benefits of remote work for employees are often more obvious, and therefore more widely discussed, than the advantages for employers. However, the business benefits of remote work are equally measurable and meaningful. From saved overhead costs to increased employee retention and positive environmental impacts, employers who embrace telework plans within their business models can enjoy the advantages of being part of the modern US workforce without sacrificing business performance.