In a recent webinar survey from PGi’s Hitting a Home Run With Collaboration, less than eight percent of respondents said they worked in an office five days a week. The overwhelming majority said they worked remotely at least occasionally.
The number of workers telecommuting is estimated in the millions and expected to grow exponentially over the next decade. So why is everyone choosing remote work over an office cubicle?
The Pursuit of Work-Life Balance
In a 2014 Staples survey, the top reason employees said they preferred telecommuting is work-life balance. Flexible work programs like telecommuting typically offer employees enough flexibility to greet the kids when they arrive from school, visit the doctor or even squeeze in fitness and healthier meals throughout the day.
Plus, telecommuting helps employees avoid some of the downfalls of the office, like stress and interruptions. Without office politics, team conflicts, noise and other disturbances from co-workers, employees gain greater focus and productivity (and potentially save more time during the workday).
Following work-life balance, employees also enjoy the transportation savings and green benefits of working from home, according to the survey. About 600,000 people in the U.S. have a 90-minute commute and a quarter commute across county lines, according to the Census Bureau. The gas savings alone adds up to extra padding in bank accounts, but skipping the commute also circles back to better work-life balance.
An average commuter would save about 50 minutes and a megacommuter three entire hours each day by telecommuting, which means more time for work or personal obligations. Additionally, commuters rate their overall satisfaction and happiness lower than telecommuters, which in turn effects well-being and productivity, according to a 2014 report on Commuting and Personal Well-Being by the Office for National Statistics.
The Telecommuting Effect on Engagement
So what does all of this mean for employers? Companies can take advantage of the benefits of telecommuting to attract, compete for and retain top talent. In fact, telecommuting is one of the top job features workers now seek out according to 71 percent in the Staples survey.
Telecommuting also benefits a company’s bottom line by positively impacting employee engagement. Even after onboarding, the majority of employees in flexibility programs report higher engagement, motivation and satisfaction as a result of telecommuting, according to WorldatWork’s 2013 Survey on Workplace Flexibility.
PGi’s own Telework Week Survey in 2014 found that not only do employees experience improvements in stress and productivity when telecommuting, but also in morale and absenteeism (by 80 and 69 percent). When given freedom and room for personal development, a well-managed and tech-supported telecommuting program yields happier, more dedicated and engaged workers even from afar.
Telecommuting is not without hurdles for both workers and supervisors, but any new change requires an overhaul to our habits and attitudes about the way we work and manage others. By tackling these challenges now, employees and employers can better prepare for the future of work and telecommuting.
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