Is a flexible working from home policy good for your business? It’s a question many small, and medium-sized, businesses are asking themselves. Most SME owners are open to the idea of making savings on office space. So why do so many remain sceptical about how a working from home policy will affect their employees’ productivity?
Working from home has a bit of an unfair reputation. It stems from the idea that given the freedom to work from home, employees will skive. In actual fact, for the best part, the reverse is true and much research has been carried out to prove that working from home increases employee productivity, not the opposite.
The key drivers effecting change in the way we work are technology and the millennial workforce. Technology on the go is enabling workers to complete tasks and attend meetings from anywhere in the world (as long as they can access a decent internet connection). And that includes working from home.
By 2025 millennials will comprise three-quarters of the global workforce. Now millennials are starting families and they are looking for a better work-life balance. Working from home is helping millennials achieve work-life balance in a big way and it’s driving businesses to rethink their policies on working from home.
5 reasons working from home increases productivity
1. Reduced commuting time
Commuting for most is another stress and it takes up time that could otherwise be spent being more productive.
2. Fewer sick days
Flexible working helps employees who have a family, or other obligations to meet. The fact is, they are less likely to be absent from work on a regular basis if flexible working is offered. Parents especially benefit from flexibility around working from home. In a survey by Flexjobs, 84 per cent of parents say work flexibility is the most important factor they look at when considering a job.
Being able to juggle hours with a sick child at home means employees who are parents are less likely to take days off sick to look after their children.
3. Less stress
Employees working from home report that greater flexibility with work schedules reduces the stress of juggling work and home life. Recent research carried out by Canada Life Group found that workers in cubicles (37 per cent) and open plan offices (32 per cent) are more regularly affected by workplace stress than those who work from home (17 per cent). In the same survey, 77 per cent of those offered flexible work arrangements reported an increase in productivity.
Stress has long been acknowledged to have a negative impact on employee productivity by reducing an individual’s ability to concentrate and multi-task.
4. Increased job satisfaction
In one study on home working, carried out by an economics professor from Stanford University, workers who were allowed to work from home reported higher job satisfaction.
5. Less distractions
Offices can be incredibly distracting places. Working from home means workers don’t have to face colleagues dropping by their desk for a chat, or deal with office noise and general interruptions. The absence of office distractions means workers can get their heads down and get the work done.
4 reasons businesses benefit from introducing flexible working policies
If you still aren't convinced. Here are just some of the benefits of flexible working.
1. Attracting the best talent
Businesses won’t necessarily find the best talent on their doorstep. Employers are able to geographically widen the search for talent if they offer flexible work patterns and allow staff to work from home. This means businesses can always employee people with the most expertise.
It’s not just salary that attracts top talent. Businesses seeking the best employees will need to consider their list of perks. Flexible working is one of the things employees are looking out for.
2. Reduced overheads
Offering flexible work patterns and home working can bring savings on office space and overheads.
3. Better employee retention rates
Employees who are able to achieve a better work-life balance are less likely to quit. Working from home is now seen as an attractive work perk and those who experience it are less likely to leave for a job not providing the same flexibility.
In our research on The Culture Economy we found that flexibility, openness and trust contribute hugely to company culture. Organisational culture and employee experience are a vital component of productivity and employee retention. Flexible working policies embody openness and trust and contribute positively to employee experience.
4. Reduced absenteeism
A study by CartridgePeople.com found that home workers take fewer sick days than office-based workers.
So, does working from home increase employee productivity?
The world of work is dramatically changing. In a globally competitive world, flexible working patterns are producing more agile businesses, better able to cope with the demands of fluctuating markets. The evidence so far suggests that flexible home working benefits employees as much as it benefits employers. It seems, in the main, to be increasing employee productivity, not the other way around.