People today are more concerned with work-life balance than they’ve ever been. However, most full-time workers are still wedded to the traditional 9-to-5 work schedule – a system adopted in the 1800s as a result of socialist campaigns to combat overwork in factories – and 76 percent of us spend up to 45 minutes travelling to and from our place of employment each day. That’s the equivalent of a whole extra working day per week.
Many studies, such as the 2008 study by economists Alois Stutzer and Bruno Frey, have identified a link between life and job satisfaction and commute time; the shorter the daily commute, the higher the chance that an employee is more satisfied with their job and life in general.
Surely then, if there’s a way to reduce people’s daily commute, shouldn’t we be able to improve their job satisfaction and overall sense of wellbeing.
One of the most popular answers to this question is telecommuting, i.e. working from home. It of course depends on what you do for work (warehouse workers may struggle to work from home), but most jobs that only need a computer and internet connection are perfectly suited to telecommuting – including digital marketing.
There’s some debate as to the effectiveness of working from home, not least because of all the distractions, like children, Netflix, not to mention the costs of setting up a work office (unless you only need your laptop).
But from the perspective of someone running a business or managing people, telecommuting provides a number of benefits that deserve to be considered – particularly if you subscribe to the notion that people and culture are vital to the long-term success of any business.
Attracting and retaining the best talent
The option to telecommute is an attractive proposition to any current or future employee, especially if their life situation (e.g. kids or other commitments) limits their time.
Employees who work from home are much likelier to report higher job satisfaction, and happy employees don’t usually quit without good reason. And as we all know, it’s always cheaper to retain talent than to attain talent.
Telecommuting also gives you the option to hire from anywhere in the world, not just locally, which greatly expands your pool of potential applicants.
There have been many studies that have found a link between working from home and productivity. One such study found that working from home led to up to 13% higher productivity, while most respondents also reported improved work satisfaction.
Additionally, working from home allows your employees to work in an environment that best suits their working style, without unnecessary interruptions like pointless meetings or phone calls.
By being able to have greater control over their work, employees are also at lower risk of burning out. There’s also the added benefit of not being completely stressed about the morning commute or having to spend extra time running their kids to childcare/school or doctors’ appointments.
Better company image
Employees are increasingly looking for more flexible working conditions; offering flexi-time and the ability to work from home are massive advantages when looking to hire new staff.
The better your reputation is among existing or past staff, the better it’ll be with prospective employees – who wouldn’t want to take a role at company known for being a great place to work?
More and more companies are allowing employees to work from home, and are increasingly seeing the benefits, with better work-life balance leading to higher productivity and lower staff turnover.
Having your staff come into the office regularly (or, at the very least, to attend important meetings) will always be an important part of helping them contribute to and feel part of the company culture, but in this modern age of instant communication and web-based collaboration, there’s a strong argument to be made for adapting to people’s lives when the need arises.