It’s not uncommon for companies to let employees work remotely. With the ubiquity of smartphones and laptops, workers no longer are desk-bound. Three years ago when Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer called at-home workers back to the office, American workplaces were buzzing with debates over the benefits of telecommuting. Today, small and large companies and even federal governments have put their weight behind letting employees work from home. Just last month, FlexJobs noted that the number of telecommuting workers has increased by 103% in the past decade as companies give over home type of flexibility to over 4 million workers. Companies around the world are letting employees telecommute as research suggests that doing jobs in pajamas actually helps improve the performance of employees.
Remote working is on the rise as companies are starting to realize that integrating telecommuting into their workforce is a smart business strategy. Let's find out how.
COST-SAVING AND SUSTAINABILITY
Currently, 47 percent of Aetna’s workforce is enrolled in the virtual work arrangements program. In 2014, Aetna reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 46,700 metric tons. Aetna’s employees used 5.3 million fewer gallons of gas by not telecommuting. Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini and national business chief Joseph Zubretsky said employee telecommuting also helped cut costs in real estate.
Similarly, through Xerox’s Virtual Workforce Program more than 8,000 U.S. employees work from home. The environmental impact of the program is just amazing. In 2014, Xerox’s remote workers reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 40,894 metric tons and used 4.6 million fewer gallons of gas by not telecommuting.
In 2014, Dell saved $39.5 million and reduced 25 million kWh of energy and 13,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions by allowing US employees to work remotely. In a report published in June 2016, The Sustainability Benefits of the Connected Workplace, it noted the cost-saving benefits of letting employees telecommute.
During the fiscal year of 2015, one in four of eligible Dell employees was working remotely. In fact, the average Dell employee works remotely 9.7 times, a number higher than the U.S. average of 2.3 per month.
A June 2016 study found that the Connected Workplace program mitigated about 1.15 metric tons of CO2e per employee per year. The company now plans to enable half of its workforce to telecommute by 2020. The announcement of letting employees telecommute, of course, is a part of a bigger goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from facilities and logistics operations by 50 percent by 2020, among other environmental goals.
According to the Global Workplace Analytics, 50 percent of American workforce holds telecommute-worthy jobs. If all of these people worked remotely half the time, it would reduce GHG emissions by 54 million metric tons annually. This is equivalent to taking almost 10 million cars off the road. It would reduce annual oil consumption by 640 million barrels.
The environmental goal, in fact, has become a selling point to recruit the sustainability-conscious millennial generation. ‘Easy commutes’ has become the recruitment pitch of many of these companies. According to a Bentley University study, 77% of Millennials say flexible work hours would make workplaces more productive for people their age. With the comfort of technology that allows them to work anytime, anywhere, it’s not surprising why more and more companies are letting employees work from home.
BETTER WORK-LIFE BALANCE
This August, Toyota Motors plans to introduce a unique telecommute program through which nearly 25,000 employees will work from home. The detailed report also lays out some bizarre outcomes. The unique policy may even reduce the birth rate in Japan. As male workers spend more time at home raising kids and help female workers continue working from home after giving birth. Of Toyota’s 72,000 employees, nearly 13,000 will be eligible for the work from home program.
The benefits of telecommuting are increased cost-savings, productivity, and retention. It’s win-win-win, considering the environmental impact, better work-life balance, and of course, increased job satisfaction.
A Stanford economics professor Nicholas A. Bloom in a study found that employees who worked remotely didn’t just ‘measure up’ to the on-site employees, but they outperformed them. The simple change in scenery also boosted a higher job satisfaction rate.
Similarly, a 2013 study carried out by the University of Melbourne and University of Auckland in New Zealand found that employees who worked remotely were more productive. HR and senior managers also reported that employees believed working remotely allowed them to get more done in less time and perform better. The scheme also decreased stances of absenteeism.
We’re not there yet. Sure, more than a 100 American corporations are letting more than a quarter of their workforce telecommute to decrease absenteeism, increase productivity and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The momentum, for all we know, will grow.