14 Reasons Your Boss Should Let You Work From Home

By Janet Alvarez, Wise Bread on 30 May 2018 0 comments
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14 Reasons Your Boss Should Let You Work From Home

While telecommuting is an increasingly desirable option for many workers, less is said about how it benefits employers. Businesses do stand to gain in many ways — financially, strategically, and culturally — thanks to remote workers and telecommuting arrangements. From reduced overhead costs, to fewer sick days and lower employee turnover, remote work can contribute significant savings to a company's bottom line. By increasing a company's access to scarce work skills and new geographic locations, it can also create strategic advantages. So, the next time you're thinking of asking your boss to allow telecommuting, consider mentioning some of these perks they'll enjoy from the arrangement, too.

(And if they say no, you might try saving money with gas rewards credit cards.)

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1. Cutting the commute improves everyone's bottom line

It's no secret that commuting can be costly and time-consuming, but a spate of recent research confirms just how much it affects everyone's bottom line. A recent study by Global Workplace Analytics finds that if those who held telework-compatible positions and wanted to work remotely did so just half of the time, the greenhouse gas savings would be the equivalent of taking the entire New York State workforce permanently off the road. And the typical half-time telecommuter could save the equivalent of 11 work-days a year — time they'd have otherwise fruitlessly spent commuting. The study suggests the typical half-time telecommuter can save between $450 and $4,500 a year in reduced transportation costs, food and beverage purchases, and other work-related expenses. By skipping the daily drive, employers and employees both see a boost to their time-efficiency, and ultimately, their bottom lines. Plus, it can make everyday living safer — OSHA estimates that your daily commute might be the most dangerous part of your day.

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2. Employees are willing to trade a little pay for remote work

The flexibility to work from home has value — according to a recent study by Princeton University, it's worth about an 8 percent pay cut to the typical worker. That view is echoed by a recent Ernst & Young study which shows that while competitive pay is still the number one attribute employees seek in a job, flexibility in work arrangements (such as telecommuting) is a close second. Furthermore, the Princeton study showed that telework is of even greater value to parents — a full 70 percent said that lack of workplace flexibility (such as no option to telecommute) would cause them to seriously consider leaving a job. So, what is remote work flexibility really worth? Probably quite a bit to both employers' ability to attract and retain talent and cut overhead, and employees' willingness to commit to an employer.

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3. Remote work reduces overhead costs

The costs of operating a physical office are considerable, and can include everything from electronics and office furnishings, to maintaining corporate grounds, parking lots, and even stocking employee refrigerators and pantries. Telework minimizes these costs and enables employers to focus on providing their workers with the tools they really need to produce effectively. Plus, it enables expansion to occur more naturally and effortlessly, without the concern for funding and locating additional office space or resources for new employees.

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4. Telework reduces absenteeism and turnover

Training new employees or compensating for lost employee time can be costly, so telework provides employers with a means for encouraging employee retention and satisfaction. Absenteeism is especially minimized by telework; in many cases, teleworkers' flexible schedules enable them to handle sick appointments, household repairs, childcare responsibilities, and other typical duties of adult life without disruption to their regular work schedule or interfering with productivity levels. This makes it less likely that an employee will need to take time off — or worse, quit their job, altogether.

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5. Office drama and distractions are minimized by remote work

Love the job, but hate the office politics and drama? You're not alone. Office gossip, chit-chat, political infighting, and other distractions can reduce workplace productivity and make remote work far more amenable to achieving professional results. The University of California at Irvine's research suggests that even a brief workplace interruption can take 15-20 minutes to recover from. Compounded several times over the course of a day or week, it can mean the difference between meeting deadlines or succumbing to distractions and missed opportunities. Remote work also reduces instances of friction in the workplace, and in some cases, can result in an overall more harmonious workplace environment.

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6. Better work-life balance means more productive employees

The term "work-life balance" has been deprecated because it implies a 50/50 split and the arrangement often isn't. The new phrase is "work-life fit" or better yet "work-life blend." The technology that allows us to work anywhere, anytime has obliterated the concept of a workday. 

The ability to telecommute offers employees a sense of control over their time. They can be there for their loved ones when they need to be. They can meet the refrigerator repairman between the convenient hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Some studies show that just having the option to telecommute can reduce work-life conflict and improve job satisfaction, even if an employee doesn't do it. Less worry, less work-life conflict, feeling trusted and empowered — these all contribute to employee productivity and loyalty.

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7. Remote employees call out sick less often

Sick employees are not only less productive on the job, but can also be costly for employers. Another recent Global Workplace Analytics study shows that 78 percent of the time, employers who call out sick do so for other reasons — and this can cost employers an average of about $1,800 yearly per employee in absenteeism costs. Plus, the study shows, teleworkers are more likely to continue working productively while sick, and of course they're less likely to spread germs to others in the office, further minimizing the impact (and cost) of absenteeism to employers. So, while some employers may mistakenly believe that remote workers are more likely to play "hooky" and call-out sick, the opposite is actually true: working from home allows more employees to remain productive when they truly are sick, thereby reducing the impact to both parties.

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8. ...And they infect co-workers less often

According to the American Management Association, companies that instituted a telework program enjoyed a 63 percent reduction in unscheduled absences. That can mean a considerable savings for U.S. employers, who lose $1,685 per year, per worker due to absenteeism, according to the CDC. Plus, teleworkers typically return to work more quickly following surgery or medical issues, and the flexibility allows them to run errands or schedule appointments without losing a full day. And, of course, remote workers are far less likely to infect other employees, in the first place. What's not to like?

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9. Remote workers often put in longer hours, thanks to no commute

But that can also a problem — perhaps the single biggest issue for telecommuters is overworking. Absent the social cues of people coming and going, it's easy to get lost in your work. Also, having the ability to constantly work -if so desired — can make it harder to decline assignments or commit extra hours.

In a study conducted by Brigham Young University, researchers identified the point at which 25 percent of employees reported work interference with personal and family life. For office workers on a regular schedule, interference began at about 38 hours per week. However, with a flexible schedule and the option to telecommute, employees were able to work 57 hours per week before reaching that breaking point. It's the combination of flextime and telecommuting that reduces work-life conflict.

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10. Remote workers embrace new technologies

Working remotely generally means relying on technology, such as VPNs, collaboration tools and software, and videoconferencing, to remain connected and accomplish objectives. That makes teleworkers likelier to embrace new technologies, and often, to spearhead initiatives to adopt them. The effect of this can be felt throughout the company, and positively impact even non-remote workers, encouraging wider dissemination of the new tools. Overall, this increases a company's efficiency, and early adoption of new technologies can encourage innovation and faster thinking in other areas of the business, as well. Plus, remote workers often bring certifications, skills, or other tech knowledge that are desirable and heavily in-demand. In fact, many companies have caught on to this effect, and are encouraging remote workers to train traditional workers in the use of new technologies, thereby ensuring their skills are shared — and enjoyed — by the whole firm.

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11. Remote workers enable companies to penetrate new locations

Expanding a business into new geographic locations can be costly and challenging — not only must a business contend with the price tag of searching for and opening offices in a new locale, but there are also local customs, laws, and cultural factors which might prove challenging. Remote workers help companies ease into new areas by acquiring local talent who can more easily navigate the local culture. Depending on the nature of the business, companies might be able to install entirely remote operations in other regions (or even countries), thereby reducing costs of expansion. If the digital nomad lifestyle seems appealing to you, consider asking your boss whether working from a desirable location in which they wish to expand is feasible.

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12. Telecommuting can help employers attract scarce skills

At a time when many companies are experiencing labor shortages or difficulty attracting new skills, telecommuting can encourage workers with in-demand skills to join an organization. According to Gallup's State of the American Workforce study, about 50 percent of employees say they'd change jobs in order to work remotely some or all of the time. Telecommuting enables companies to hire qualified talent, regardless of where they live, including hard-to-reach populations, such as the disabled or military spouses. Employers can use telework as an enticing alternative for employees who may be uncertain about accepting an offer, or those whose schedules or family demands make a traditional schedule more difficult. When competing for highly talented employees with scarce skills, telework can be a motivating factor.

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13. Telecommuting can boost employee morale and reduce burn-out

A study by polling firm Gallup finds that employees who work remotely are more highly engaged than their office-bound counterparts. Interestingly, the highest level of engagement (and least disengagement) is found among those who work remotely 3-4 days a week. This cohort is also the most likely to strongly agree that "someone at work cares about them as a person, encourages their development and has talked to them about their progress."

By encouraging positive feelings about the workplace, reducing tension, and bolstering employees' sense of purpose, telework can boost employee morale, reduce burn-out, and maximize productivity. Remaining connected to other employees, however, is essential; lower scores were found among those who rarely had contact with fellow team members, and among those who always worked remotely, suggesting that maintaining close team ties is essential to supporting company culture and satisfaction.

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14. Telecommuting keeps companies agile, lean, and flexible

Relying on a workforce heavily comprised of remote workers not only reduces overhead and costs, but in many cases, can make a company more agile and flexible, since location and physical space considerations are minimized. In some lines of work, such as sales, it can be critical to effectively deploying salespeople throughout various geographic areas. Meanwhile, in industries such as media, technology, medicine, or editorial/content production, remote workers can enable continuous delivery of services to customers or clients. Companies reliant on teleworkers are also generally leaner, requiring fewer layoffs when times are hard, and manage employee costs more effectively.

In businesses such as medicine or the legal industry, telework enables patients or clients to be reached more efficiently, easing critical shortages and improving wait times. Plus, it allows scarce skills to be deployed rapidly and with quick turn-around, on an as-needed basis. When staying apace of competitors, industry, or customer demand is critical, teleworkers can make the difference between success and failure.

This article by Janet Alvarez was originally published by Wise Bread.