Covid-19 Demonstrates the Importance of Remote Work

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Covid-19 Reminds Us of the Value of Remote Work

Covid-19 has proven to be deeply disruptive to our routines and life as we know it.  The World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have updated their safety guidelines, instructing as many people as possible to work remotely until the pandemic is contained.  Pair that with the stock markets dropping at record-breaking speeds due to social distancing measures, and it is clear that the ability to be able to work remotely is more important than ever before. 

Pandemic aside, analysts have been anticipating this trend in telecommuting for some time.  While it is surely minimizing the blow of emergencies like the one we are experiencing, studies also show that it has many other benefits like cost savings, increased productivity, employee satisfaction, health, engagement, and minimizing the carbon footprint. 

Preparation for Emergency Situations

It’s clear to see the benefits of having an emergency plan for times when working from an office isn’t an option.  Take TSI for example.  While there are a few duties that demand physical presence to be completed, we have been able to keep our doors open, and more importantly, keep our people safe by having unified communications tools in place.  Companies without telecommuting capabilities are having a harder time operating under the essential employees only mandate.  What made our transition during this pandemic easier is directly related to how we operated prior to the emergency.  Since we already had a degree of remote work already in place, the transition to operate as remotely as possible didn’t slow us down much. 

Work Places suggests that only 30% of business leaders feel that their company is appropriately equipped for the rise of remote work. If your organization is not ready for when disaster strikes, try reading through this article for tips on how to lay the foundation that prepares for emergencies like the one we are facing.  

remote capabilities = investment that saves money

The bill gets hefty when considering how much money businesses spend on commuting time.  That’s why businesses are capitalizing on technology to soften the financial blow.  In extreme instances, some businesses are 100% remote, and the money they save on brick-and-mortar establishments cuts a tremendous amount of overhead.  It’s not realistic to believe every, or even most, businesses can function without a location to operate out of.  However, research shows that enabling businesses for remote work saves them on average $11,000 per employee each year. 

Additionally, Cisco recently conducted a survey on its remote employees and discovered that 69% were more productive.  This is partially due to their increased satisfaction with the job, and that they are able to complete their work during their most productive hours instead of being bound by the typical 9:00 to 5:00.  What’s more, they also found that their retention rate was significantly higher as well, meaning lower training expenses.  In the end, Cisco concluded they saved over $277 million by incorporating more telecommuting.

increased productivity

Many find it hard to believe that employees who work remotely are more productive, which seems like a legitimate concern considering there is no supervision and different types of interruptions.  Of course, not every employee wants to work from home all of the time, but studies have revealed 80% of employees prefer to work for companies that offer the option to work remotely at least some of the time.  For example, it makes more sense for an employee out at a job site near their house to just return home to finish working instead of wasting time driving to the office towards the end of the day.

CoSo Cloud released a Remote Collaborative Worker Survey that suggested that 54% of people who work remotely at least a few times a year accomplish more tasks in the same amount or less time.  The survey also found that 23% are willing to work longer hours to get things done, and 52% are less likely to take time off.  As we previously mentioned, remote workers are able to work during their most productive hours and not restricted to regular 9:00 to 5:00’s. 

Ultimately, the flexibility and money saved commuting and eating out are enticing enough to motivate employees to go the extra mile to have the luxury of working remotely.  Not only does it empower employees to work any hour of the day, but it attracts and retains top talent that find the option attractive.

Flexibility Increases Employee Satisfaction, Health, and Engagement

Employees love the benefits they receive from working from home.  Firstly, they save a tremendous amount of time and money from their commute to and from work.  That alone lets them keep more of their own money and use that extra time to do things they need to do.  One study said that employees saved almost $7,000 from working remotely.  CoSo Cloud echoed this notion in their survey that reported 30% of the remote workers in their sample saved up to $5,240 on traveling expenses. The same study also stated 44% of participants had a more positive attitude and 53% reported less stress. 

Secondly, employees are more likely to live healthier lifestyles if they work remotely.  They have the time to eat better and exercise more routinely.  The survey by CoSo Cloud reported 35% get more physical exercise, 42% eat healthier, and 45% get more sleep.  Moreover, employees working remotely report having better mental health and take fewer sick days than that of their nonremote counterparts. We couldn’t find much support over if this increase in health decreases insurance premiums, but it wouldn’t surprise us if it did either now or in the near future.

Lastly, contrary to some popular belief, telecommuting increases employee engagement, and engagement directly reflects profit margins.  One study mentions that fully engaged employees have profit margins up to three times higher than nonengaged employees.  With proper management and collaborative tools available, employees don’t feel left out at work and are more focused on tasks at hand.  Increased engagement also heightens an employee’s loyalty which motivates them to stay with a company longer.  Overall, telecommuting services decrease miscommunication by allowing one-on-one chats and group messaging/video calling.  The likelihood of somebody missing a CC or Reply All button is significantly reduced. 

Furthers Corporate Responsibility on Going Green Efforts

Protecting our planet is a responsibility for all of us.  In 2011, research supported that approximately 10 million barrels of oil were saved from the 5.2 million Americans who telecommuted.   That number has nearly doubled in size with the growing number of remote-based workers. 

The United States Environmental Protection Agency reported that transportation alone was the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in 2017.  In the study Cisco conducted, 47,320 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions were saved from entering the atmosphere by their remote work initiatives.  That’s a fuel cost savings for their employees of $10.3 million.  Not to mention, they estimate about 119 billion miles of highway driving can be saved through remote work.  It just goes to show that companies can reduce their carbon footprint by enabling telecommuting wherever possible.

Final Thoughts and Tips

There are many different services to choose from when structuring your organization for telecommuting.  The key is to pick one that can scale multiple platforms and integrates well with other tools your company is already using.  For example, if they communicate seamlessly with your email and calendar systems, have robust chats, screen sharing, and file sharing options.  Almost all of the services today can operate on personal computers, tablets, and smart phones, so the key is to ensure that they play nicely with other services like Dropbox, Evernote, Slack, etc. This brings more value than simply being able to video call one another. 

Overall, Covid-19 is having a large effect on businesses, but if there is a silver lining to be found, maybe it is in discovering both the proactive and reactive benefits of remote work.  Benefits that transcend the emergency we are currently in and go beyond to our daily routine as we know it.  This is the time for companies to embrace the opportunity to step up their remote work game not just now, but in perpetuity.