Workers today want increasingly more flexibility in when, where, and how they work. Nearly 69% of millennials say they would prefer to work from home, and the average professional would take an 8% pay cut to do so.
While the advantages for employees are well known, the significant benefits for employers who offer flexible work options are often overlooked or undervalued. A flexible work culture is no longer a “nice to have” company perk—it’s become an area of competitive advantage for many companies.
Considering (or trying to make the case for) a more flexible work culture? Here are 7 benefits with the data to back them up:
1. Employees who work from home are 13% more productive
When some business leaders hear “work from home” they immediately picture their employees laying on the couch watching The Price is Right. But as it turns out, employees are an average of 13% more productive at home than in the office. In his two-year study, Stanford professor Nicholas Bloom found telecommuters had productivity levels equivalent to an entire extra day of work. Remote employees in the study tended to work more hours and found their at-home environments less distracting.
2. No employee commute time = 4.5 extra hours of work per week
With a U.S. average commute time of 26.1 minutes, working from home can add an entire extra day of productivity for every two weeks of work. To put that in perspective, if you have 100 employees who all start working from home, that’s 23,400 extra hours of work over the course of a year (and that’s not even taking into account the hours that are lost when traffic or late trains cause employees to run late).
3. $11,000 in annual savings per remote employee
According to the 2017 State of Telecommuting in the U.S. Employee Workforce report, companies can save an average of $11,000 annually for each telecommuter.
And companies like Cisco have been proving the ROI of flexible work cultures for years. Almost 60% of Cisco employees work remotely at least part of the time. By allowing employees to work from home, they reduced the need for office space and closed 239 buildings between 2012 and 2017—saving them $196 million in overhead. They also increased employee engagement by 17% during that time period.
4. Ability to recruit the best and most diverse workforce
When you aren’t constrained by specific geographic areas, the world is your talent pool, giving you a better shot at finding people with the unique and specialized skills you’re looking for. Remote work options also allow companies to recruit individuals with disabilities that may limit their ability to work in a traditional office setting. Flexible work cultures are also attractive to many working parents, who look for jobs that offer them a better work-life balance.
By recruiting talent from outside your area and/or immediate networks, you can also expand your organization’s cultural diversity, which is good for innovation and the bottom line—organizations in the top quartile for ethnic and racial diversity in management are 35% more likely to have financial returns above their industry averages.
5. Healthier employees & fewer sick days
One study of more than 19,000 employees across nine companies found that stress and burnout were lower among those who had flexible work options. And an American Sociological Association study showed that IT workers who participated in a flexible work program reported lower levels of psychological stress. Studies also suggest work flexibility is good for the brain and can lead to greater creativity.
Allowing employees to work from home even part of the time can also cut down on the need for them to take sick days. When employees are required to report to an office every day, they generally feel the need to take off an entire day (or more) to get better and avoid spreading germs. (Or, some employees come into the office anyway and get their coworkers sick, multiplying the number of people who need to take sick time.) When employees have work-from-home options they’re more likely to do at least some work during those times, especially if they’re feeling a little under the weather but not terribly ill.
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Offering a flexible work culture with work-from-home options can be a profitable long-term strategy and can help boost employee engagement and performance. One of Emplify’s own employees, Chip Maxwell, recently relocated across the country. He shared his thoughts on adjusting to remote work:
“I think it’s easy to assume that if someone isn’t at work, they’re not working. And to be honest, when I first tried working from home years ago, it was very easy to get distracted. But with time and experience, I figured out the routines and habits that work best for me to stay focused and productive outside the office. And now that I’ve started working remotely full-time, I can get more done in less time than ever before. This may not be true in every industry or role, but for most knowledge workers there are few good reasons left for mandating the location of their desk,” said Chip.