The pandemic forced employers to let their staff work from home and are now experiencing what the future could look like.
They see what it is like to have a remote team, how productive their employees are, and how they incur fewer costs.
Working from home has many advantages, for example, an employee generally feels happier when working from home. The familiar environment allows him to concentrate better and be more productive. Furthermore, there is no gossip about other colleagues during working hours at home. A remote worker is also more inclined to make a few hours in the evening and is thus much better at dividing his time and work over the course of the day. If they don’t feel creative, they can just take a break and pick up later in the evening. People who work remotely really stick out above the office workers here.
It says a lot that Facebook has announced that it will increase its number of remote workers from now on, just like many other companies in Silicon Valley. Working from home is finally being widely experienced and it is the future for many office workers. But what are the exact benefits for companies to let their teams work remotely? Here are our top 5:
1. It contributes to a positive employer image.
Working from home leads to higher satisfaction among employees and thus contributes to a positive employer image. After all, letting people work from home shows confidence and flexibility, and with that, you can distinguish yourself as an employer from the rest, especially with millennials who are looking for meaning and flexibility in their work.
2. Working from home is financially advantageous
Many employers realize now how much money they can save with their teams working from home. After all, all kinds of costs are dropped. Think about the costs of commuting to work or lunch at the office. And what about water consumption and the use of electricity? Maybe some companies see an opportunity in cutting costs on renting workspace. Now, as employer, you do need to invest in (security) software and maybe some compensations for your remote workers to create a work spot at home (proper desk, office chair). But all that is less than the savings you make on the monthly rent for an office.
3. Working from home means saving time
Not only financially, but also time can be used much more efficiently. Think, for example, of the time to commute to the office (for you and your employees) that is reduced to an absolute minimum, but also of the talks at the coffee machine or that business lunch that always takes longer than expected.
Of course, it remains the employees responsibility to use time efficiently, but the fact is that the reduced travel time alone frees up more time for other things.
Educate your employees on how to spend that extra time wisely. They could go to the gym, or read a book for example. And yes, these activities are beneficial for your company too! Who doesn’t want energized and smart remote workers?
4. Remote workers are sick less often
Research has shown that working from home leads to lower absenteeism due to illness. The explanation lies not only in the fact that people come into contact with other people (colleagues, but also people they meet during their commute) but also in the fact that it becomes easier to add rest in a day.
Those moments of rest boost the immune system and give the body the opportunity to fight against germs. A busy work environment full of incentives considerably reduces the chance of resting moments.
5. Fewer traffic jams - better for the environment
The use of remote workers will also rise due to the increasing pressure on the infrastructure in many big cities. The average (office) employee is stuck in traffic jams every day, which costs a lot of time and money. For example. traffic jams on Dutch highways cost businesses about 1 billion euros annually, not to mention investments in the road network. A remote worker, of course, does not have this problem and therefore has a great advantage over the normal office worker.
Also, a lot of organizations aim for a better sustainable way of work. More and more young people care about the environment and to attract them, companies focus their habits and values on sustainability. This pandemic has shown what the impact is of less traffic. Who hasn’t heard about cleaner rivers in India, clear blue water in Venice, wildlife in the city streets, and cleaner air above Italian cities?
You read it: an employer benefits greatly from having staff work at home more often. And, in my opinion, it’s even a bigger benefit for the person who actually works from home. But both employer and employee will only benefit if they are motivated and dedicated to making it work. Here are some tips for everyone working from home (yes, also for the CEO’s out there), to be sure you will succeed as a remote team:
1. Dress up.
Lose your pyjamas! The road from your bed to your laptop is extremely short when you work from home and the temptation to crawl in your pyjamas to your laptop is huge. But remember: if you dress up, you will be working instead of chilling. And for home workers who prefer to just stay in a jogging suit: at least put on your shoes. Also, sit at a desk or dining table and don't lie on the couch or bed. Keep an active posture!
2. Make a schedule.
Set realistic goals at the start of the day. Put them on your to-do list and cross off when you have completed a task. It will give you a satisfying feeling! By the way, that also applies to a normal working day at the office, but when working from home, a to-do list also helps in staying focused.
I know it is easier said than done, for example, if your work does not fit into a schedule, or if you have a one-year-old sitting at home who doesn’t understand the concept of time. But every bit of structure helps. Ideally, you have clear work blocks and private blocks in your agenda, so that you get into a rhythm faster. Do you live with others? Then create a schedule together.
3. Schedule breaks.
A common pitfall for working from home is not taking breaks and the ubiquitous distraction. It’s super important you take breaks, away from the screen, and move around a bit. But it is also important you don’t get distracted at the moments you planned to focus on something. At the office, you walk back and forth to the coffee machine or your colleagues for a chat. It’s probably just as much distraction as at home. But at home, you can plan those moments. So, schedule two to three short breaks for distraction at home.
Tip: reserve 10 minutes for a household task, like doing laundry, and make sure you stick to the time you planned for hanging your laundry or cleaning the dishwasher. You will have some time away from the screen, some different muscles you put to work, and you’re clearing your brain.
4. Create a clear morning ritual.
A morning ritual is about kick-starting your day the right way. When working from home, you probably have an hour extra since you’re not commuting to the office. Use this hour wisely. Don’t sleep in, but activate yourself. Showering, meditation, exercise. Be conscious about not opening the messages on your phone and staying away from your inbox. Instead, focus on your family, your body, your mental wellness.
Tip: Check out this blog post about the best morning routine for remote workers.
5. Do not pick up your phone until you are ready to work.
Whatever you do, don't start the day with your phone. You can create the best morning ritual, but if your head is already full of new information (news, email, WhatsApp, work), you are unconsciously already busy. That’s not how you start a productive and energized day!
6. Choose blocks of productivity.
Of course, you are always available, but turn off your email and WhatsApp notifications for a few blocks of productivity. This ensures fewer chances of distractions and maintaining your concentration.
7. Create a permanent workplace in your home.
No matter how big or small, this is “your office” for now. You work in that place, and nowhere else. That distinction gives peace and makes it easier to stop working at the end of the day.
This can be challenging. Ideally, you have a separate room to transform into an office, but not everyone has a spare room in their house. My work spot is between my bed and the bedroom window. All my office stuff is in a drawer out of sight, which I only grab when I get started. A clean desk is absolutely recommended too! The rest of the house is job-free.
8. Make sure you have access to all documents.
Creating a nice workplace at home is necessary to work properly. Think of an office chair, but also access to documents. Before you work from home, check the VPN or internet connection, check if you have access to the cloud with all the documents you need, and is your email installed on your private laptop (if you don’t have a company laptop).
9. Make arrangements with your family or roommates.
Great that you are at home, but that does not mean that you can take care of your kids or Netflix with your roommate. Before you work from home, make arrangements with those who are also at home, so that you are not disturbed unnecessarily.
Tip: if you don’t have a spare room to set up an office, set a rule like this: when I’m wearing my headphones, you do not disturb me. This could mean you’re in a conference call, or just need time and quietness to focus on what you’re working on.
10. Just as important: end your working day.
Don't work until the last minute, but take five minutes to finish. Write down where you have left within projects and what you intend to do with them. Take a look at tomorrow's agenda, put everything in a to-do list for tomorrow. Even if you do this only briefly, it ensures that you go into your free time with a fresh mind.