For many managers, the idea of working remotely or telecommuting is a teeter totter counterbalanced with pros and cons. Managers strive to find the line between allowing freedom for their employees while encouraging attendance and inter-office relationships.
Executives love how flexible cultures can draw top talent and create a strong work-life balance, but there is a fear that employees might not communicate or work as hard if not around their coworkers and manager.
Many modern workplaces allow employees to work outside the office, but that number could stand to rise. In a survey of over 1,000 employees nationwide, we found that 39.8 percent of the workforce never works remotely, and another 16.3 percent does so only a few times a year. More than half of employees are in the office almost every day.
That is not their preference, however. Our study found that 33.7 percent of employees want to work remote at least once a week and 19.4 percent wished to work outside the office a few times a month.
There is a monstrous gap between employees’ preference and the workplace reality. As the following alluvial diagram shows, most employees don’t believe they’re given enough opportunities to work remote.
The left side of the graph shows how many respondents currently work remote at varying cadences. For example, roughly 50 percent of respondents indicated they never or rarely work remotely, compared to 10 percent who mostly or only work remotely.
The right side of the graph, on the other hand, shows how many respondents would prefer to work remote at a specific cadence. So it's a graph of actuality versus preference, showing how many respondents would prefer to work remote at a certain cadence and how those preferences relate to how often they currently work remote.
Workplaces on the whole have become more accommodating as technology advances and employees’ expectations change, but workers crave more freedom. In the past, employers have been reluctant to abandon their punch-in-punch-out policies, but giving employees the ability to work remote does have its rewards.
62 percent of employees believe telecommuting and/or working remote positively affects employee engagement, according to our survey. Being trusted to work outside the office builds a sense of faith between managers and employees, as the latter feels empowered instead of micromanaged.
Working remote helps employees achieve work-life balance, which directly corresponds to satisfaction and retention. Engaged employees work harder, smarter, and with a purpose.
Studies show that remote employees are actually more plugged in when they’re away from the office. A Standford study showed that remote employees are more likely to work a true full-shift, rather than being late or having to leave early multiple times each week. Additionally, employee attrition decreased by 50% among telecommuters, they took shorter breaks, had fewer sick days, and took less time off
Every company strives to retain existing employees while attracting new talent. Allowing remote work delights employees and decreases the chance they’ll leave. It also creates positive word-of-mouth traffic for your company that draws the interest of workers seeking a change of scenery.
Though working remotely is clearly an attractive benefit, it may not be the right solution for every employee, and sometimes in-office communication is necessary.
Consider these tips when striking the balance of remote work.
Remote work cannot succeed if all parties aren’t on the same page. When employees are in different locations, communication becomes even more important, and employers must equip remoter workers with the right tools to stay in constant, effective communication.
Consider online chat programs such as Slack or Rocket.Chat, as well project management systems like Trello or Monday.com. Have work spaces in the office that allow for video chats. Keep in-office and remote workers aligned with an all-in-one employee engagement software.
Want proof that working from home is working—or not? Measure employee engagement through quick pulse surveys. Filter through the demographics, including location, to ensure remote employees are remaining locked in and productive.
No two employees are exactly alike, so be open to a unique remote working plan for each. Some are simply more comfortable physically being around their coworkers, while others relish the freedom of working privately. Set a standard with each manager and adjust if necessary. Consider each employee’s role as well. Some positions allow for more flexibility than others.
Our research shows that employees would prefer to work remotely more than they get to. The good news? That creates opportunity for your company and its employee engagement strategies. By giving your employees the right amount of freedom and the tools to effectively work remote, you can increase employee engagement and strengthen your workplace.
Download our infographic on The State of Remote Work and find out how your workplace can stay ahead of employee expectations.