While vocal work-from-home opponents like Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer and Zappo’s Tony Hsieh have gotten a lot of media attention in recent years, it’s getting more and more difficult for businesses to deny that telecommuting is a smart business decision. Telecommuting is a pervasive, continuing trend that in the US has grown a whopping 80% since 2005, according to GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com.
Telecommuting shows no signs of declining anytime soon because businesses can achieve significant cost-savings allowing employees to work from home.
1. Increased productivity.
According to published research, workers who telecommute are almost twice as likely to work more than 40 hours a week as non-telecommuters (53% compared to 28% for non-telecommuters).
Telecommuting will not increase productivity in all cases. Research shows that the type of work your telecommuting employees do has an impact on productivity levels. For employees who typically perform rote, repetitive tasks, productivity is 6-10% less than that of on-site employees.
Account for possible productivity loss among certain groups of employees when you’re trying to determine whether to let some or all of your employees work from home. Those losses may be offset, however, by the cost savings achieved in other areas, such as using online productivity tools.
2. Lower overhead.
If a typical business allowed employees to work from home just half the time, they would save, on average, $11,000 per year.
Reduced overhead is an obvious cost-saving opportunity of allowing employees to work from home. The costs that can be reduced or avoided include mortgage or lease, utilities, janitorial services, office supplies, coffee and water expenses, office equipment, furniture and transit subsidies
3. Higher retention rates.
Not everyone wants work from home but employees who do consistently report higher job satisfaction and company loyalty than on-site workers. This, in turn, reduces attrition rates.
According to a study done by Staples Advantage, workers who were allowed to work from home reported much higher levels of job satisfaction and better work-life balance. Home workers reported 25% lower stress levels, 73% said they ate healthier working from home, 76% were more loyal to their company and 80% reported a better work-life balance.
An analysis of more than 500 telecommuting studies by Global Workplace Analytics found 36% of employees would choose the option to telecommute over getting a raise and 37% of technology professionals would even take a 10% pay cut if they could work from home.
The cost savings are obvious, considering the average company will lose between $10,000 and $30,000 for each employee who quits.
4. Fewer sick days.
Employees working from home might seem likely to call in sick but the research clearly indicates the opposite is true. Since unscheduled absences cost employers an average of $1,800 per employee per year, this is a significant benefit to businesses looking to cut down on unnecessary costs.
Up to 78% of employees who call in sick do so because of stress or personal issues. Telecommuting workers are better able to deal with these issues and continue working without significant absences from work. Telecommuting workers typically continue working even when sick and resume working more quickly after surgery or other medical issues.
Working from home means reduced absences due to appointments unrelated to work. Workers are more likely to return to work immediately following appointments rather than taking the whole day off.
5. Decreased travel costs.
The average cost of a domestic business trip is $949 per person, while an overseas trip costs $2,600. Businesses using online tools and software to communicate and collaborate virtually are better prepared to forgo costly business trips in favor of cheaper, more efficient alternatives.
Telecommuting is not ideal for every worker and business but you owe yourself ,and your wallet, to at the least take it for a test drive. The cost savings are simply too big to ignore.