In our status quo of remote work, many who left office spaces do not want to go back. Since the coronavirus pandemic began, 62 percent of employed Americans have worked from home—and three in five of those remote workers prefer not to return to the office once public health restrictions are lifted.
ARTICLE | 5m read
July 20, 2020
Many tech companies have already told employees they could work from home indefinitely. To many advocates of face-to-face meetings and office collaboration, this can come as a shock: After the COVID-19 pandemic, considering all the challenges of remote work, why would people choose to work from home…permanently?
As the COVID-19 crisis makes us question whether traditional office culture should continue to be our primary mode of work, it’s helpful to look at the benefits of working from home for employees’ time, bank account, and health. In this post, we’ll examine these benefits in the context of the relationship between remote work and digital well-being.
One of the most obvious benefits to employees working from home is having more time. From eliminating a long commute to avoiding transitioning between conference rooms to skipping chatter about office politics from co-workers, remote workers have gotten a lot of their day back. What’s more, teleworking has not just maximized employees’ personal time, but also their workday—69 percent of work-at-home American employees said their productivity levels are the same or higher compared to their in-office work schedule. This suggests a home office is just as effective as conventional office space for getting work done.
The implication is that working from home full-time will lead to better time allocation for both employees and for employers. Working remotely also gives employees a more flexible schedule for how they spend their work time. This is useful for decreasing burnout, which 81 percent of employees believe should be a top priority for employers and is a critical component of digital well-being.
Working from home saves employees more than just daily commute time. Remote employees also reduce their spending on expenses like car maintenance, gasoline, and parking fees. And while having children at home during the workday has been challenging for many working parents, those with solo-playing children have saved on the substantial cost of childcare. These savings can average up to $6,500 saved per household, per year.
Employers have also seen substantial savings from embracing a flexible work at home policy. Downsizing office space can have a huge impact on an organization’s bottom line by reducing utility costs and real estate expenditures. For example, in 2015 the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office saved an estimated $38.2 million in real estate avoidance costs thanks to remote workers freeing up their office environment. In addition to saving money on office space, employers who embrace remote work can also reduce their employee retention and recruiting costs, as 54 percent of workers would change jobs in order to have the choice of working remotely.
In addition to saving time and money, remote work offers significant benefits for mental health and digital wellness. Those working from home enjoy much better work-life balance, as they are better able to take breaks in the workday for exercise and to prepare healthier meals. Choosing telecommuting over a daily drive also benefits employee wellness, as commuting via car has been linked to both higher stress levels and respiratory problems from pollution.
Having healthier remote employees also leads to significant benefits for employers. 82 percentof telecommuters said remote work helped lower their stress levels, and 69 percent reported lower absenteeism. This suggests a remote workforce takes fewer sick days and is better prepared to be productive and innovate when they’re on the job.
Remote work has become primary, and will remain as an option after the COVID-19 pandemic ends. As you and your human resources team plan the reopening of your offices, it’s important to offer your new remote workforce the flexibility to choose where they work. This will help your staff weigh the balance of the perks of remote work alongside the advantages of shared office space. The result will be a workforce that maximizes time, reduces expenses, and improves their digital wellbeing.