Management Work From Home

The case for continuing work from home

If the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic taught us one thing, it’s Work From Home (WFM) is a viable option and it’s here to stay.  In a study conducted by Owl Labs 77% of respondents agree that after COVID-19, having the option to work from home would make them happier.  And let’s face it, for the most part happy employees are productive employees.

Not only can allowing employees to continue working from home improve employee happiness and productivity but it can have major benefits for employers as well.  Employers can save money on building and maintenance costs, overtime pay when employees call off, and it can be a public relations boost.

Employee Happiness and Productivity

In a two year study by Stanford University employees were split into two groups, one that worked in an office and one that worked from home.  What the study found was that the employees who worked from home employee attrition decreased by 50 percent among those working from home. Additionally they took shorter breaks, had fewer sick days, and took less time off.  The work from home group also reported that they found it less distracting and easier to concentrate at home.

There is also the factor of expenses, employees working from home don’t have to spend money on things like dress clothes, portable food, and gas and maintenance on cars or fare for trains or cabs.  These little savings can add up and make employees feel like they’ve gotten a raise without the employer having to give one, that’s a win-win.

Another factor that increases happiness is being able to be home for tasks and events.  Maybe the commute home means a parent will miss their child’s soccer game or dance recital, working from home means they can do their work without that stress distracting them and they can see that important event and get their work done.  Or maybe it’s just being able to get some chores done on their break, sometimes just being able to throw a load of laundry in the wash before work then switch it to the dryer on your break can lead to less distraction and a more focused employee.

Cost savings for employers

The benefits aren’t just for employees though, employers can see some great benefits as well.  Traditionally employers would have to have a building big enough for all their employees and parking for all their cars (if that’s how it works in your area).  But with WFH employers can downsize those buildings for only the essential workers who need to work from an office, while the rest can stay home.

Let’s assume a location has 400 employees and 100 are considered essential and must work from an office.  The employer can cut their building and maintenance expenses in half and still have room for on-site training of new and existing employees.  Employers can not only cut back on the cost of the building and parking lot size, but on consumables like electricity, break room snacks, restroom supplies, and many others.  It’s more profitable to have less people in one location.

Another factor to consider is employee call offs.  When employees call off it generally means more work for other employees, if the workload is big enough you may have to offer overtime.  Now the employer is not only paying the employee who called off sick pay or vacation pay, but also paying other employees overtime pay.  In the Stanford study referenced above it was reported employees called off work less and took less vacation.  I think it’s important to note here that this study was conducted prior to the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, so it’s not that employees couldn’t go on vacation, they felt like they didn’t need to go on vacation.

Turn over is another factor that will cause some employers problems going forward.  In a study by Flex Jobs 58% of respondents stated that they would consider leaving their job if they were not allowed to continue working from home.  More and more employees are going to start looking for WFH jobs, and employers who don’t offer this are going to get the employees who can’t get work anywhere else.  This means good employees will start to leave and those who know they can’t get a job anywhere else will be left, this will hurt productivity, hiring, and ultimately the company’s reputation.

Allowing WFH will not only help employers keep trained and skilled employees, but will open up opportunities to hire qualified candidates from parts of the country (or world) that they wouldn’t be able to get before.  Maybe you’re based in Indiana but the candidate you want lives in Texas and doesn’t want to move. With WFH you can now ship them a computer and let them work from home.  Now you’ve got a talent pool the size of your country, not just your city.

A public relations boost.

More and more people today are demanding companies to be more environmentally conscious.  They want eclectic vehicles, LED lights, solar panels, and less waste.  Having a large WFH component of your workforce can satisfy some of those wishes.  Companies can put out press releases that they are being environmentally friendly by employing more WFH workers and reducing the amount of resources they use in their buildings and the amount of gas being used every day in their workers commute to and from work.

Not only does this offer the chance at a major public relations boost, but the employer gets to save money in the process.

Conclusion

Work from home is here to stay, employers who embrace it and use it effectively will survive and possibly thrive.  As generation Z enters the workforce employers will need to understand that this generation values freedom over money or prestige.  Work from home will be a large factor in that freedom, having the ability to not be tied to an office will be a huge selling factor in requirements of generation Z.  Employers who start adapting now will be able to recruit the best of generation Z and be able to thrive in the future.  I’ve linked to resources below to help navigate the new normal.

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