Remote work has become a new reality for many, as the COVID-19 pandemic has catapulted just over five million Canadians into the world of working from home. While this may be new ground for employees, remote work in itself is not new, and many workplaces have been (and continue to be) completely remote right from the jump. As a result, several advantages of remote work have been identified that benefit both employees and businesses as a whole.
When it comes to the retail industry, in particular, remote work is not always a feasible option for on-the-ground employees. However, for those who work “behind the scenes,” such as those in marketing, development, merchandising, or executive-level roles, stepping away from an office environment may be a great option going forward.
Below are five ways remote work can help businesses, with a focus on the benefits that it can provide employees and employers alike. While working from home is not an option for every business, it is important to consider if it could be. It may be new grounds to navigate, but changes to the workplace are on a steady trajectory, and offering work from home opportunities may be the next chapter for your business.
1. Remote work increases employee productivity
It may be a fear among employers that those who work from home are less productive in a day, but several reports published over the years have shown this is simply not true. In fact, employees who work from home have increased levels of productivity, have higher employee engagement overall, and make up to 40% fewer mistakes than traditional employees.
A two-year study published by Stanford shows that work-from-home employees work a true full-shift, and sometimes even more, compared to employees that commute to an office who may be late or leave early. As well, they found that that working from home was less distracting overall, and employees had an easier time concentrating on their work.
Another study found that remote employees work 16.8 more days every year than those who worked in an office, and within those days, employees spent more time crossing items off their to-do lists. While it was found that remote employees take more breaks in their day, taking breaks actually leads to higher levels of productivity.
With any new work environment, it is going to take some time to establish a routine that generates productivity. However, as this year and a half has shown us, remote work is a viable option, and carrying out the responsibilities of a once in-office position is possible in many respects. Employees who can remain productive in their workday certainly help businesses succeed, as more tasks can be accomplished and key success metrics can be reached at a faster pace.
2. Reduced costs
Eliminating an office space automatically cuts down the operating costs that a business acquires. Factors like energy bills, the cost of office supplies, and leasing costs are no longer a concern for remote businesses.
Reports have found that a typical business can save approximately $11,000/year for every remote employee, and these savings are a result of cutting out overhead costs, real estate costs, cleaning costs, and so on. Especially since the average office space costs an estimated $18,000/year per employee, working remotely is certainly a viable option for businesses to save money on that front.
3. Improves employee well-being
In the 2021 State of Remote Work report, the top three biggest benefits of working remotely include: the ability to have a flexible schedule, flexibility to work from anywhere, and not having to commute. This flexibility is what largely contributes to the well-being of so many remote employees, and this is a significant reason why working from home can be so appealing.
A study on mental health in the workplace found that 80% of respondents say having a job with more work flexibility would allow them to take better care of their mental health, while 83% believe it would also decrease their stress levels and 92% say this flexibility could make them a generally happier person. When employees’ mental health and well-being are taken care of, it can lead to a better environment for growth and success to foster, which is important for any workplace.
In the Global Work-from-Home Experience Survey, a majority of remote employees report that they are better at balancing their work and non-work needs, they eat healthier and exercise more when working from home, and their overall well-being is increased. This ability to establish a work-life balance is extremely important, as the line can often blur for employees in a traditional work environment.
4. Cut out commute times
A factor that greatly contributes to the well-being of many employees (for better or for worse) is the commute to the office. Commuting is something that employees who work in traditional work settings have to factor into their day, and for many, it can be undesirable, especially for those who have to travel far distances. It can be so impactful that one in four employees quit their job because of a long commute.
For remote workers, the “commute” is, at most, a few feet away. This is helpful for businesses because cutting out the long commute time, it allows employees to have more time to prepare for their workday and feel productive. Preparing for the day ahead, rather than sitting in traffic, can boost morale and create an overall constructive environment.
On a broader scale, not having to commute to the office results in a significant reduction in emissions. A report by Global Workplace Analytics found that even part-time remote work can slow carbon emissions by more than 51 million metric tonnes annually. Less travel to the office means gallons of fuel saved and less greenhouse gas emissions.
5. Employers can expand the job pool
For businesses with traditional work environments, employers often need to rely on hiring local talent. However, for remote workplaces, employers can expand the job pool and reach talented professionals from across the country (or even the world). This creates an opportunity for businesses to curate a diverse team with varying talents that some businesses may not be able to establish.
With the pandemic causing many to turn to strictly remote work, there is now an even larger selection of potential employees that are willing and excited to work from a remote environment. During pre-pandemic times this was not always the case, as many employees found benefits of working in an office setting, and while this can still be true, there is a great number of people more open to the idea of working from home.
Working remotely may have been a requirement for almost two years, but it has now become a viable choice for many. With benefits for both employees and businesses, it can be a great decision going forward, post-pandemic.
About Reshift Media
Reshift Media is a long-time partner of the Retail Council of Canada. The company is a Toronto-based digital marketing and development organization that provides leading-edge social media, search and website/mobile development services to retailers aroundthe world. Please visit www.reshiftmedia.com to learn more.