Originally posted on Forbes
When the Covid-19 pandemic shut down the world in March 2020, 42% of the U.S. labor force began working from home full time. Over two-and-a-half years later, with remote work no longer a necessity from a public safety standpoint, many companies are now bringing employees back into the office. Other businesses — such as my own — remain fully remote. Here are some of the main ways we’ve found remote work to be beneficial for our business across the board.
How Remote Work Can Benefit Employees
Better Work/Life Rhythm
A Gallup poll found that employees’ top-cited reasons for preferring remote work included “not having to commute, needing flexibility to balance work and personal obligations, and improved well-being (which likely results from having more time).”
At Xpedition, we’ve found that remote work has also made it easier for employees to explore more of the world and move closer to loved ones or better school districts. Now that our team can work from anywhere with just a laptop and a strong Wi-Fi connection, they can create their own customized workflows — whether that entails listening to music, working from a coffee shop or decorating a space that matches their personal design aesthetic. This allows them to produce their best work instead of adhering to a one-size-fits-all schedule or open office layout.
Returning to an office space that isn’t conducive to each individual’s needs will do more harm than good after your teams have experienced a better work/life rhythm. In fact, ADP Research Institute’s annual survey of 32,000 workers across 17 countries found that 64% would consider quitting if their job asked them to come back to the office full time. While no setup is perfect, I believe the flexibility of remote work makes it more sustainable for us to continue doing great work.
Saves Time and Money
According to research from Global Workplace Analytics, the average remote worker gains back two to three weeks of time per year that would otherwise be spent commuting.
Instead of commuting to work, our employees now have more time to pick their kids up from school or day care and attend more social gatherings. In addition, each worker typically saves between $2,000 and $7,000 in transportation and work-related expenses. So rather than having to spend lots of money on gas or office attire, employees can put more money toward the activities, hobbies and financial goals that matter most to them. This freedom and flexibility can help employees feel more satisfied on both a professional and personal level.
Increases Job Satisfaction
A Tracking Happiness study of over 12,000 individuals found that remote work increased employee happiness by up to 20%. Given this, it’s no surprise that 78% of Americans with jobs that can be done from home would prefer to continue working remotely.
Allowing our employees to live where they want to helps keep them happy and more engaged with their roles. For example, three of the people on our content marketing team have relocated to be closer to family or live in areas with lower tax burdens. Having the freedom to choose where to live has increased job satisfaction while also helping us retain great talent and valuable institutional knowledge.
How Remote Work Can Benefit Employers
Access to a Bigger Pool of Qualified Candidates
Employers have historically been limited to job applicants who live in their immediate vicinity or are willing to relocate. But remote work has opened the door to qualified candidates anywhere in the world. This can be especially helpful for employers who lack access to diverse local hiring pools or need workers with incredibly specialized skill sets. Having the freedom to hire remote workers has allowed my company to hire highly qualified candidates from 14 states. This has made it much easier to find and retain the right fit for each role.
Reduces Overhead Costs
Global Workplace Analytics found that businesses would save over $500 billion annually in real estate, electricity, absenteeism, turnover and productivity if employees worked from home at least half of the time. This would translate to a yearly savings of around $11,000 for each remote worker.
When Xpedition went from in-house to fully remote, we saved thousands of dollars per month on parking and office rental fees. (Parking fees alone were nearly half of our monthly rent bill!) Saving money on overhead costs allows us to free up funds for raises, workplace benefits and team-building activities like our very first company retreat. At the end of the day, though, making the switch wasn’t about the money for us. I believe that time is the most precious resource, and I wanted our employees to have more time to spend on their mental and physical health. In the past, some of our staff (myself included) had to commute two-and-a-half hours a day to work. Working remotely gives us that time back. While we already contributed to 401(k)s and health plans, going fully remote has been an additional investment in our team’s health and well-being.
Increases Performance and Productivity
Conventional wisdom long dictated that people work best in an office setting. But remote workers actually produce work with 40% fewer quality defects, and they tend to be more productive. Working from home can help employees limit distractions and find a workday rhythm that is most conducive to their workflow.
Since my company works with clients in various time zones, we’ve personally seen the benefit of having team members who are available at different times of the day. This helps us bolster performance and productivity, retain clients and differentiate ourselves from competitors who work only in one or two time zones.
The pandemic taught me that in-office interactions are not necessary for meaningful collaboration and a healthy work culture. Instead, giving people the chance to work in an environment that is best for them is what fosters lasting connection and creativity.