The average worker spends almost 27 minutes commuting each way. That’s about an hour a day—or five hours a week or almost 10 days a year—spent sitting in the car or on public transportation.
If you’ve ever been one of those commuters, you’ve probably found yourself wondering at least once, “Can’t I just do this from home?”
The answer is yes, you probably can.
In the last five years, remote work has grown 44%—and it’s pretty easy to see why. In addition to giving team members almost eleven days of their lives back, it can also boost morale, increase productivity, and reduce stress in employees.
Keep reading to learn more about:
- The benefits of working remotely for teams
- The benefits of working remotely for companies
- How to equip your remote team with the right tools
4 remote work benefits for employees
It might seem dramatic to say, but the option to work from home can be life-changing for many employees. Cutting out time spent in an office (including the trips getting there and going home) can give people a lot more freedom in their day.
Here are four of the top benefits of remote work for your average employee.
1. Remote workers have more flexibility.
In a traditional work setting, you’re typically out of your home from the early morning until late evening. Depending on your commute, you could spend around 12 hours in total at work, on your way to work, or on your way home:
This means you end up with very little “free” time—and we’re not just talking about hobbies or fun activities. It’s also less time to do chores, spend with your family, and just relax.
Working remotely gives workers more freedom and flexibility in how they spend their time. Rather than taking a 10-minute break to grab a cup of coffee from the Starbucks down the street, workers can use that same 10-minute break to throw in a load of laundry or empty the dishwasher.
Remote work can also encourage teammates to better prioritize their schedules. Because they’re not trapped at a desk for eight hours straight, they can work more efficiently to make the most of their time.
2. Remote workers have more autonomy.
In an office, you’re stuck working in whatever conditions are set up for you. That might mean cubicles, or an open floor space, or even no assigned desks at all. But what if you want your own desk?
These things might seem small, but they can be frustrating if they accumulate over time. If you can’t focus because the coworker sitting next to you is chewing their lunch too loudly or you’re freezing because of a way-too-low air conditioning setting, you’re out of luck.
These uncomfortable work situations can kill productivity—and in some cases even push the employee to look for work somewhere else.
Remote work gives employees the power to set up their home office just the way they like. They get to control everything from the temperature to what they wear, allowing them to create an environment that makes them most productive.
They’re not confined to their home either—they can head out to a coffee shop, a coworking space, or even a park to get away if they need a temporary change in atmosphere or some fresh air.
3. Remote workers have better health.
While sitting in an office all day might not necessarily be bad for your health, you’re probably spending over eight hours a day sitting and sharing spaces with other coworkers who might be sick.
Not only that, the UK’s Office of National Statistics found that people who commute over half an hour to work each way (hello, rush hour) report higher stress and anxiety levels compared to people with shorter or no commutes.
This even extends to eating habits. Coso Cloud found that 42% of remote workers in its survey ate healthier working from home than they did in an office-based environment. Which makes sense—when you’re working from home, you can choose to cook your own healthy lunch or heat up leftovers and stock up on healthier snacks throughout the day.
And of course, remote working gives you more opportunities for exercise. With the time you get back from not commuting, you could go for a workout—or even squeeze a quick one in during a break or during lunch.
4. Remote workers save money.
Working costs money. From commuting expenses like train tickets or gas to business-casual office attire and eating out for lunch, we spend a lot of money on work-related stuff.
While these things might be factored in during a salary negotiation, wouldn’t it be nicer if you didn’t need to spend your hard-earned cash on a pair of pants you’ll never wear outside of the conference room?
Remote work means these expenses disappear (or at least makes them much, much lower). You no longer need to pay for that monthly train pass, and you don’t need to pick out a different outfit for every day of the week—meaning you can put that money towards something you really care about:
That free time also means you have more time to put into side projects, second jobs, or even continuing education. Although it’s not really “saving” you any money now, it could set you on a path to increasing your income in the future.
Now, let’s look at the perks of remote work for companies.
4 remote work benefits for companies
Remote work can bring up some stressful questions for a lot of managers and business owners. How do you know if employees are actually working or if they’re just watching Netflix all day? What if they go offline and you can’t get a hold of them? How do you measure productivity?
But the truth is, remote work is actually proven to be extremely beneficial for companies. Let’s take a look.
1. Remote workers stick around longer.
We already talked about the seemingly small things that could drive a person to look for a new job (like long commutes, distracting coworkers, and uncomfortable office settings)—but working remotely can solve a lot of those problems.
While just giving an unhappy worker the ability to work from home won’t make them stick around forever, the flexible hours can make your top performers more loyal. Giving your team the option to work remotely also means you don’t need to part with your best team members if they decide to move cities.
You may already be familiar with this, but employee turnover can be costly—not only do you need to replace that employee, but team productivity also takes a hit and projects or services can be delayed:
If you’ve got a good team and you want them to stay together for as long as possible—and ultimately save money and be more productive too—look into remote work.
2. Remote work can reduce overhead costs.
Keeping an office operating is expensive. You’ve got rent, electricity, heating, and cooling—and those are just the basics. When you start to add everything up, that number can get pretty high.
If you have a fully remote team, those expenses no longer fall on your plate. Without an office to go to, you don’t need to worry about rent or paying to keep the lights on.
A remote workforce might also help you save money on certain insurances or other employment-law-related expenses—just be sure to talk with your lawyer about what costs you might be able to cut before you officially remove any policies.
Some companies do offer financial incentives for their work-from-home employees, like cash to set up their home office, money for a coworking membership, or reimbursement for phone and internet.
While it may sound like a lot of money, remember that you’re saving a ton of money on office space and other costs that usually outweigh these perks (by a lot):
3. Hiring a remote team gives you access to the best employees.
When you set down roots as a business, you’re limited to the talent in that area. Depending on where you want to call home, you might struggle to find talent that has the skills you’re looking for.
If your team is remote, you can expand your talent reach exponentially. Know of a great candidate that lives on the other side of the world who’s also interested in working remotely? You can nab them for your company!
Remote work is becoming an especially big priority for younger employees. In fact, 85% of millennials say they want to telecommute 100% of the time. Offering this flexibility can make your business more appealing to job hunters.
Pro-tip: Keep in mind how employees in different time zones could impact your business. It’s okay to say your team needs to work East Coast hours or overlap on specific times—just make sure to lay this expectation out early.
4. Remote workers are more productive.
Earlier, we talked a lot about how flexibility makes remote workers happier—but that isn’t because now they’re able to slack off without their boss knowing. Working remotely can actually make employees more productive.
Working remotely lets your employees get in a zone more easily and eliminate distractions because they have the power to create an office environment that improves their ability to concentrate. They’re also free to take more efficient breaks, letting them come back to their work feeling refreshed.
The dynamic of a remote team also means workers have more freedom when it comes to collaborating with each other. Just because we’re used to in-person meetings doesn’t mean it’s always the best way for a team to work together.
“Team messaging helps our communications run more smoothly and also keeps us better connected and feeling more like a team—even though our agents are geographically scattered,” says Brightway Insurance’s Enterprise Architect, Michael Baker.
“Plus, it allows us to better serve our customers.”
With so much technology that’s designed for remote teams, like cloud-based document storage, team messaging, and video calling, you can make it easy for your remote team to work together no matter where in the world they are:
How to equip a remote team with the right tools
Getting all these awesome benefits from remote work is great, but it involves some planning. You can’t just send your team home one day and expect them to know how to be productive.
For remote teams to be successful, you need to have the right tools. Here are some essentials for getting the most from (and for) your remote team.
- Project management software. Keep track of all your tasks, projects, and plans in one place. A project management tool like Asana, Monday.com, or Trello can help make sure your entire team knows what’s going on, what they need to focus on, and what is expected of them. Here’s Monday.com’s easy-to-use and bright interface:
- An all-in-one communication app. When you can’t talk face-to-face with your team, you need the next best thing—communication software that’s easy and comprehensive. RingCentral gives you multiple team communication options including team messaging, video conferencing, and phone calls so your remote team can connect whichever way is best for them:
- Cloud-based document storage. Your team needs to be able to access real-time documents to keep their projects moving forward. Investing in Box, Dropbox, or G Suite lets you make all your files and documents available to everyone in your organization—regardless of where they’re located.
- Time-tracking app. It’s impossible to know how your remote teams are spending their time without the help of an app. Use a time-tracking app like TimeDoctor or Toggl so you can review how much time is being devoted to each project—and to make sure your employees aren’t falling prey to working extremely long days:
- Shared team calendar. When you can’t just look over at someone’s desk to see if they’re available, you need to have a way to see when people are in meetings, doing work, or away from their computers. A shared calendar, like Google Calendar, is a must for remote teams.
What benefits are you looking for from a remote team?
To get the most out of a remote team, the first step is to give them ways to communicate and collaborate as if they were in an office.
Everyone needs to feel comfortable sharing what they’re working on, what challenges they’re running into, and what they need from their teammates to best do their jobs.
Going remote can absolutely help your business save money and be more productive—you just need the right tools and systems in place to help them thrive.