If you manage a team of employees you might have had to let them work from home recently due to the coronavirus pandemic. Or maybe you’ve been looking around at recent trends and pondering such a shift anyway. Regardless of whether it’s forced upon you, chosen by you, or still in consideration, realize that letting your employees work from home can have a lot of benefits.
You don’t have to rent an office space
If your entire workforce works from home, you don’t need any real estate to use as an office. With the current rising cost of commercial real estate, especially in big cities and tech hubs, this can amount to a huge savings. Although this isn’t possible for certain businesses, e.g. a car manufacturer, a farm, or a hardware store, for the companies that have most of their team working from laptops, this is a huge opportunity to seriously cut costs. Even if you can’t (or don’t want to) completely eliminate the office culture, you can always shrink your office footprint by having people work mostly from home, and maintain some shared workspaces for the times people do come into the office.
Reduced cost for office snacks, furniture, and supplies
A corollary of the previous benefit: If you don’t have an office, you don’t have expenses usually associated with offices, either. You don’t have to buy computer desks, chairs, or conference tables. People who are working at home don’t need catered meals, snacks in the kitchenette, or drinks stacked in fridges. You don’t need business-caliber internet service because there won’t be hundreds of people using your bandwidth at the same time. You don’t have to worry about janitorial services or the physical security of your work site. None of this might be as expensive as rent, but they aren’t trivial expenses either.
No time wasted on a commute
If employees work from home they don’t have to spend any time commuting. Now, this might not always translate into extra working time. If you normally left your home at 7 AM to be in the office by 8 AM, and you were allowed to work from home, would you be at your computer and working by 7 AM? Maybe not. But even so, you’d probably be less stressed by the time you did start work, leading to a better, more productive working day.
More people not having to commute would also mean less vehicles on the road. If enough of us can do that, we could reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to saving the Earth!
Improved team happiness
Regardless of whether people enjoy their commute, being able to work from home could have other benefits to employee satisfaction. Letting your employees work from home on a more flexible schedule can also send the signal that you trust them. They are responsible adults who can get their job done even if you don’t physically see them sitting at a desk doing so. This can create more satisfied employees and increase enthusiasm for working at the company.
Increased team productivity
Admittedly there is some amount of serendipity that happens when people run into each other in a shared physical space, share thoughts and bounce ideas off each other. But there are also a lot of distractions: random conversations happening within earshot, getting snagged by a coworker on your way to the bathroom or water cooler, or someone dropping by just to say “hi” because they happen to be bored at that moment. When employees can work from home they can avoid all of those distractions and really focus. It’s true that they will also lose the possibility of the breakthrough chance encounter, but this can be mitigated by dedicating a channel for random ideas or observations in your remote collaboration software.
Access to worldwide talent
If your employees can work from home then they can be living anywhere. When you need to hire someone, your candidate pool is no longer confined to people who already are in (or are willing to move to) your locale. In specific cases companies still limit their search to people in certain locations. For instance, if you need a customer support representative that can be online during European business hours, someone on the west coast of the United States probably won’t be a good fit. But you can still cast a much wider net than people in your own vicinity.
Build a diverse team with diverse ideas
As you exercise the option to hire people living anywhere in the world you will slowly end up with employees from various countries, cultures, backgrounds, and experiences. This increased diversity will lead to more ideas on the table when considering problems your business faces. If you’re considering entering some foreign markets, employees living in those countries could tell you about their economy. People from different cultures may be able to tell you how your brand is perceived outside of our own cultural biases.
No matter where your team is—working at home or in the office—help make them feel special and like a valued member of your team. Poll Everywhere can help you craft anonymous feedback surveys or get-to-know-you surveys that can help you gain actionable insights and make macro-level business decisions. Poll Everywhere Competitions are also perfect for hosting an unforgettable trivia party, from anywhere.