There are over 4 million Americans working full-time from their homes, and that number is only increasing. In the past decade, the number of people working from home, aka telecommuters, has jumped 115%.
The rise of ‘Telecommuting’ has been well documented and debated, but study after study continue to conclude that the trend is better for the government, companies, the environment, and people’s mental health than anyone could have imagined.
Yet for all the things we’re discovering about the benefits of telecommuting, not everyone is onboard with a massive expansion of the practice. For as cool as some the changes coming to certain offices are, changing anything means companies are investing additional money to keep their employees happy, yes, but also stuck in the workplace. That stands in stark contrast to the figures from recent research that peg savings per telecommuting employee at up to $11,000 a year.
Telecommuting is not evenly balanced however—while men and women essentially work from home at equal rates, telecommuters earn approximately $4,000 more than normal workers, largely attributed to the fact the telecommuting population is disproportionately made up of managers.
Accordingly to the 2017 Flexjobs report, the average telecommuter “is 46 years of age or older, has at least a bachelor’s degree, and earns a higher median salary than an in-office worker.” That reality is a stark contrast to the narrative behind the increase being about Millennial drive.
For most white-collar jobs, having as many employees work from home as possible is ideal. Their age or history with the company shouldn’t matter. Considering robots are already encroaching on blue-collar jobs, the workforce needs to adjust, and there is no reason for that adjustment to not be worker-friendly.
Right now many companies still view telecommuting as a perk they grant employees, but that doesn’t properly reflect the value companies themselves derive from having telecommuters.
No matter what your business is, big or small, you may think there is a certain impediment to letting your employees work remotely (they need to meet clients, I want to make sure they’re working, etc.), but telecommuting is the future.
Here are 5 reasons why that’s good.
Everyone saves time and money
As quoted above, the Flexjobs report noted that the average company will save around $11,000 per year for every telecommuter they employ when contrasted with a normal, in-office job. A Stanford experiment also found that telecommuting reduces employee turnover, saving companies time and money normally spent training new workers.
For the telecommuters themselves, well, the average person would save 2 hours per day cutting out their commute, which lends itself to a better work-life balance and more flexible offers they can offer their employer.
Even better? The thousands of dollars saved cutting out gas/travel expenses, lunches, coffee, work clothes, and other work-related expenses.
Less unemployment and access to larger talent pools
When you factor in the difficulties some people have in getting to a job, allowing more people to work from home opens up more people to work, thus lowering unemployment. This is especially true for older Americans who still want to work but have physical difficulties making long commutes.
Also, not having a job tied to a place means more people will be able to do that job. With more jobs flocking to cities despite rising housing prices, companies won’t get stuck with their geographic pool of candidates. If someone can’t afford to relocate to an expensive city, they can still apply for the job.
Better productivity and work relationships
A big argument for not allowing people to work from home is that productivity would suffer. This opinion, while not outlandish for certain employees, rests on mistrust. However, 65% of workers and managers report increased productivity from telecommuters.
There could be hundreds of explanations for why these workers are doing their jobs better from home, but one that often gets lost in the discussion is better company-wide communication. When people work from home, they need to precisely plan and communicate with their bosses and colleagues, so everyone is on the same page.
This increase in communication and efficiency is then likely to lead to better relationships between bosses and their employees. The trust a boss puts in an employee to work from home alone leads to better morale and loyalty.
Better for the environment
It’s no secret that cars are a major source of pollution. Cities have tried to get carpooling going to no avail. The better idea? Get cars off the road by letting people work from home. That means less gas consumed, less traffic, and less fossil fuels emitted from cars going 10 MPH on jam-packed highways.
Better work-life balance
Americans typically work too much, meaning we have terrible work-life balance compared to the rest of the Western world.
The more psychological research that goes into the topic, the more we understand just how important a good work-life balance is. Even without accounting for added flexibility and childcare opportunities working at home presents people, saving time on a commute alone would be good for most Americans both physically and mentally.
There are literally industries built around trying to improve America’s work-life balance, when an easy solution has been right in front of our faces for years.