If there is one fact today that highlights how much work has changed, it is remote working. The remote workforce is growing, and where once working away from the office was seen as a nice perk, it’s now become a necessary option that HR needs to embrace.
Recent research shows just how mainstream having a remote workforce has become. According to a Gallup survey (it’s State of the American Workforce) remote work is growing significantly, from 39% in 2012 to 43% in 2016, while globally as much as 70% of professionals globally work remotely at least once a week and 53% at least half the working week.
Meanwhile, the US’s Bureau of Labour Statistics has said it expects freelance contract workers, the driving force behind the ‘Gig Economy’, to represent more than 50% of the workforce by 2027. Already, there are an estimated 57.3 million freelancers working in the US.
With change so relentless, it’s important for HR to understand not just that they are facing an ever-evolving revolution in work practices, but that there are also genuine benefits to be hand if it can be harnessed.
5 Benefits To Embracing A Remote Workforce
- Higher Employee Engagement
- Higher Productivity
- Lower Employer Costs
- Better Recruitment, Higher Talent Retention
- Lower Absenteeism
Employees who are given time to work remotely are engaged more than their office-centric colleagues. In 2017, Gallup discovered that the most engaged group of workers are those that work remotely for between 60% and 80% of the week, with the remaining 20% spent in the office. The report also revealed that this group was most likely to ‘strongly agree’ that someone at work ‘cares about them as a person, encourages their development and has talked to them about their progress’.
More engaged employees are important to have, but productivity is crucial. Well, that too is a common consequence of remote working. In fact, according to a report from Global Workforce Analytics, who compiled the results of over 4,000 studies about what it calls ‘agile working’, offering flexible working arrangements does result in higher levels of productivity. American Express workers working from home were 43% more productive, while British Telecom’s telecommuting staff were between 35% and 40% more productive.
Research shows that a business can make significant savings when hiring a freelancer. It might not look like it when hourly rates are higher than the usual hourly rate full-time employees are paid, but when social insurance, medical insurance, pensions and other benefits are taken into account, then savings as high as 30% can be achieved.
The offer of remote working is a major attraction when it comes to recruitment. In fact, a strong majority of Millennials consider it an important employment benefit of any employment package – as high as 70% according to some surveys. Including the option can vastly improve a recruitment campaign. Meanwhile, for those already employed in a company, such terms can help to boost as sense of loyalty and improve talent retention.
Finally, the bane of any HR department is in handling absenteeism. Some surveys suggest that employees crying off without a sound reason can cost companies billions every year; UK businesses lose an estimated £29 billion. Flexibility can play a big role in navigating the problems that arise, allowing staff to work from home or work back lost hours quickly after the initial disruption.
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