Does your company offer Work From Home benefits?
If you’re familiar with conducting a job search, especially if done so more recently, you’ve seen the shift in how results are starting to highlight work flexibility and more specifically remote opportunities.
As technology evolves and the ability to work from home (WFH) becomes easier to successfully accomplish on both the employer and employee side of things, it’s no surprise that the desire for finding a job that offers this benefit has increased. In fact, in the last decade, the workforce has seen a 27.7% increase in the number of people working from home. One might think this trend is due to Millennials and Generation Zers invading the workforce, but that’s not entirely the case. According to a recent study, older workers are more likely to work at home with only 3.4% of 20-29-year-olds working remotely.
Transitioning between working in an office you commute to every day, and working from home can have challenges for both the company offering and the employee partaking in it. Technology is probably the first hurdle most professionals face when being a part of a WFH situation. For example, if you’ve ever been on a conference call where multiple people were calling in, sometimes technology can hold you back from effectively communicating, especially if it turns out anything like this.
Being prepared from a technology standpoint is essential. Employers need to make sure home office employees have access to anything they need to do the job effectively, and employees must have the internet connection required to perform all the responsibilities they would if they were at the office. It’s important to remember though that with employer information being pushed electronically outside of the actual office, data security should be monitored religiously, if it’s not being done so already.
Working from home and offering employees this option isn’t all data breaches and miscommunication, there can be many benefits for everyone involved.
As the employer, you can cut overhead costs. With an employee not taking up office space, this might allow some to downsize both spatially and financially. For employees, there could also be a financial benefit; cutting out a commute could save on gas or public transportation costs. California is the top state to work from home with an average commute time of 29 minutes. To any of you who have dabbled on the I-10, you might pay an employer to let you work from home to avoid that commute.
Another state getting into the WFH mix is Vermont, albeit doing so in a more unconventional way. The Green Mountain State established a Remote Worker Grant Program that offers up to $5,000 a year to new residents who move to the state and work remotely for employers based in another state. One of the drivers behind this was to help attract a younger crowd and possibly more families. Five months into the program, the average applicant age is 37, and nine of those applicants have school-aged children.
Trust is essential in any work environment, but especially when you are involved in a remote work environment. You would think if someone calls themselves a professional, they would be trusted to actually work when they are working from home, but for some, the distractions might be too much. Whether it’s the sight of your comfy bed when you get that 3:00 feeling or the flat screen TV located right outside your home office, distractions at home can happen. It’s up to the employee to prove that they can be trusted to not give into those distractions, and in turn, the employer has to feel like the employee has earned their trust before any remote working relationship can be established.
Once that line of trust is drawn in the sand, it’s time for the employer to get the boost in productivity awaiting them with a work-from-home employee. According to a study done by the Harvard Business Review, there was a boost in productivity when employees were offered the option to work from home. It found that remote employees made 13.5% more calls than the in-house staff over a 9-month timespan. What company wouldn’t want to be more productive? Especially when realizing what the effects of an unproductive environment can have on a business.
It’s obvious that an unproductive work environment can lead to down sales and revenue, but what about the things you might not be able to tangibly see? When an employee is unproductive, it can affect the stress level of other employees who care about their work and might have to pick of the slack of an unproductive co-worker. As a business owner or leader, this might result in losing a high-quality employee who succumbs to the stress.
On the hiring side of things, offering a work-from-home option or position expands the talent pool beyond the geographical boundaries a company is usually held to. This opens up a whole world of opportunities to bring in good talent and have the ability to be pickier with a more extensive candidate base. Quality talent isn’t just sitting around avoiding WFH possibilities; according to Forbes, flexible schedules is one of the three benefits that can help employers retain creative talent. Forbes cited a study published in the Harvard Business Review where outside of quality health benefits, 2,000 U.S. workers who responded to the survey ranked flexible work hours, more vacation time, and work-from-home options as valuable benefits they look for.
Although sometimes this phrase is seen as an oxymoron, one of the most significant reasons why work-from-home benefits are catching on is because more employees desire a truer work-life balance. Not the kind where you say you have a good work-life balance and are one more late work night away from curling up in the fetal position, but one that is balanced even though it might shift one way or the other from time to time. Being imbalanced can lead to stress, and unfortunately, chronic stress an issue commonly seen in the workplace. With it can come hypertension, digestive issues, and heart problems. Let alone the impact it can have on mental health. Also, if a person is working too much, burnout can be a real possibility. According to a study from the Harvard Business Review, employers need to take a good, long look in the mirror because employee burnout is company problem, not an employee problem.
So as you journey along your next job search, keep in mind that working from home isn’t an outside-the-box benefit anymore. If it’s important to you, you’re not alone, and employers are looking to offer it.