In recent years, we have seen many businesses shift away from traditional office spaces and make the move to an open plan work environment.
Whilst open plan offices have been credited with boosting collaboration, breaking down hierarchies and encouraging conversation, new research suggests that working remotely can be a great way to increase productivity and boost employee morale.
The benefits of working remotely are in abundance for employees, such as avoiding the daily commute, enjoying a less stressful environment, and eliminating the unavoidable distractions of the office. However, the benefits for employers are often overlooked, with research suggesting that both the employee and employer can benefit through the creation of happier and more productive workers.
Technological developments providing the ability for employees to work remotely means that employers seeking new hires are granted access to a wider pool of applicants, meaning companies can hire the best of the best as they are no longer bound by geographical restrictions. Once those employees are in the door, the ability to work flexibly may also mean they stick around longer.
A study conducted by Stanford professor, Nick Bloom, found that employees who were able to work remotely were happier and less likely to leave their job than those who went into the office on a regular basis. Moreover, companies are likely to see financial benefits from implementing the freedom to work from home. By allowing employees to work from a home a couple of days a week, paired with a hot-desking policy for those in the office, the amount of office space required can be reduced, providing a corresponding reduction in rent and operating expenses.
Those opposed to the idea of working remotely are often deterred by what they perceive as a loss of control, direct oversight and the ability to witness productivity first-hand. Often, managers are guilty of equating employee presence with employee productivity. However, we all know there are plenty of distractions and ways to be unproductive in the office!
Like any company policy, the success of remote working will hinge on the guidelines set by management, continuous monitoring, and an ongoing commitment from employees to deliver what is expected of them. Remote working works best when people are accessible, communicate effectively, stay connected, and show that remote working positively impacts their work. While remote working is unlikely to work for everyone, those who can manage it successfully are likely to reap the rewards.