Today around 10% of Americans are regularly working from home, and for good reason. Many organizations today are starting to implement flexible work environments where employees can either work part time or full time from home or from a cafe, a bookstore, or anywhere else. There really is no longer a good reason to force employees to come into the office every day just so that they can be seen or monitored unless your executive team is either insecure or is on an ego trip. In fact if you force your employees to come into the office every day and sit at their desks from 9-5 might I suggest strapping puppet strings to their arms and legs as well?
This especially doesn’t make sense for employees who have long commutes. When working with a client (with hundreds of thousands of employees) we found that one employee was commuting an average of 4 hours a day which is the equivalent of a part-time job. Assuming a very conservative hourly salary we found that a potential $52,000 was being wasted on commuting time on just this one employee. We were quite surprised to find that in this particular office branch commuting 3-4 hours a day was actually typical for other members of the team as well This quickly starts to get into the six-figures. Ask around, you will be surprised how much time your friends and family members spend commuting, and for what?
Allowing employees to work from home is easier said than done though. In order to make this happen organizations need to have the proper technology in place as well as the proper attitude toward working from home. There are many collaborative solutions that support flexible work environments but if it’s something that management frowns upon, then of course nobody will do it. Unfortunately not all managers are open and receptive to the idea of building a collaborative organization where employees can work from flexible work environments, I believe these managers either need to be educated on the benefits or simply let go…period.
Organizations should seriously consider allowing their employees to work from home for a few reasons:
- Employees can still get access to the same information and the same people as they would if they were physically in the office
- Employees are actually happier and appreciate the flexibility to place their life first instead of their work first aka LIFE-work balance
- Organizations don’t need to waste time and money on commuting when employees could use that time to actually get work done
- Employees can actually be more productive when working from home because they are allowed to work when it is convenient and optimal for them instead of when they are forced to
- Employees feel more engaged at work and passionate about the work they do
- Employee turnover rates decrease since people enjoy working for organizations that offer flexible work environments
- Organizations who force employees to work 9-5 from home are seen as out-dated and stale
- It’s good for the environment
However, the greatest reason for why organizations should allow their employees to work from home/flexible work environments is just simply common sense. In today’s age do we really even need to discuss and try to justify why employees should be allowed to work from home? Seriously? The technology exists to support it in a way that previously did not exist and the corporate mentality of hierarchy and command and control is being destroyed.
Research is also plentiful on the subject:
A fairly recent study conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee which was published by the National Communication Association found that:
“Employees who telecommute the majority of the work week are more satisfied with their jobs compared to those working mostly in the office because working remotely alleviates more stress than it creates.”
Here’s another interesting study which found that:
Letting one employee work half of their time out of the office saves company’s about $10,000 per year and the employee up to $6,800 per year and about two work weeks worth of time due to using less gas, and avoiding parking, food, clothing and other costs.
Here’s another piece of research from Stanford: which eliminated a few amazing statistics:
We found a highly significant 13% increase in performance from home-working, of which 9% was from working more minutes of their shift period (fewer breaks and sick days) and 4% from higher performance per minute. We found no negative spillovers onto workers who stayed in the office. Home workers also reported substantially higher work satisfaction and psychological attitude scores, and their job attrition rates fell by over 50%.
This goes beyond collaboration, social business, enterprise 2.0, or whatever you want to call it. Quite simply this is about the future of work and if you think that the future of work is about people sitting in cubicles from 9-5 then you are going to be in for a rude wake-up call.
(Cross-posted @ Social Business Advisor: Enterprise Collaboration Strategy)