Is it time for us all to go home?
New research has highlighted the cost savings of businesses allowing employees to be based at home.
Figures show that a full-time remote worker saves his employers around £6,500 a year compared to one who works from their office.
The international research agency Global Workplace Analytics advises companies on working strategies. Their latest research shows some businesses are saving huge sums by introducing remote working arrangements.
Thanks to the digital communications revolution, around 60% of UK companies already have some remote-working arrangements. But how does the trend towards working from home impact on business transport and company fleets?
We looked at the latest research to find the advantages and disadvantages.
- The obvious saving is on office space: this means less rental or property costs and reductions in bills like lighting, heating, furniture, security, cleaning, toilets, water coolers, coffee machines and stationery. US-based Global Workplace Analytics has found that the average ‘real estate’ savings per full-time remote worker is $10,000 (£6,500).
- Home-working removes the need for commuting. This helps reduce jams and pollution, and fuel costs. There are hundreds of accidents and breakdowns each year involving people driving to work.
- Around two thirds of employees want to work from home. Your business can attract better quality applicants if this is part of the package and staff will stay longer. More than a third of professionals say they would take a pay cut in return for home-working.
- Happy, less stressed staff are more committed, enthusiastic and effective. Home-working allows parents to work around childcare rather than having to leave their job. Flexible hours means people can work when they are most motivated and effective.
Some companies, famously including Yahoo, have argued against remote working. It’s clear there are some disadvantages. They include:
- Sense of isolation for workers, lack of banter and camaraderie, no sense of belonging, and less chance for brainstorming and swapping ideas.
- Management difficulties: how do you monitor employee hours? Do you use webcams, timesheets or simply trust them?
- Some workers perform better at home - but some don’t. There are more distractions. New and young staff may need some office time before working at home.
- A quick face-to-face meeting becomes much more difficult. Indeed, if you need a home-worker to come to the office you may have to pay their travel expenses.
- If the home worker uses a company vehicle there can be concerns about its insurance, security and maintenance.
- Companies still have a duty of care for home-workers so some businesses insist on health & safety inspections of the home working site.
So as you can see, there are positives and negatives of remote working. Some businesses are starting to adopt this approach to working but some are staying well clear. What is clear though is that each business needs to weigh its options on remote working and it is very much an individual business decision.
For more detailed research about remote working visit the Global Workplace Analytics website.
For a UK perspective the Chartered Management Institute has this year argued in favour of home working. Read more here.