Should your business operate a flexible working from home policy?
Small, medium-sized businesses are now asking themselves this question, and saving office space is a concept most SME owners are open to. Many however remain sceptical about employees’ productivity on a work from home policy.
A lot of the concern around flexible working arrangements stem from the idea that when employees are outside of the office they are less productive or may even be inclined to ‘skive off’.
Surprisingly, or unsurprisingly dependent on who you ask, much research has been carried out and has proven that working from home actually improves employee productivity, rather than negatively affecting it.
On an individual employee-by-employee basis there are also attractive benefits to companies having a flexible working policy
For example, by cutting daily commuting times parents may be able to spend more time around their children. There also appears to be some data-backed benefit to mental health, a recent study by Canada Life Group found that workers in cubicles (37%) and open plan offices (32%) are more regularly affected by workplace stress than those who work from home (17%). Further backing up the idea that flexible working increases productivity, the same survey found that 77% of employees offered flexible working arrangements reported an increase in productivity.
Flexible working outcomes in a real-world scenario
A Stanford economics professor, Nicholas Bloom, recently produced some solid academic research on working from home vs working from the office.
Bloom set out to conduct his own rigorous study, saying “everything I saw was pro working from home, but the people against the idea remained quiet”. [paraphrased]
The results of the study came in and the company being tested in the study reported the following:
- $2,000 per year per employee on office space
- Employees who worked at home were 13.5% more efficient than those who worked in the office
- Staff who worked from home were 9% more engaged than their in-office co-workers
- Employees who worked at home “reported shorter breaks and fewer sick day and took less time off”
- Attrition rates were 50% better with the work-at-home employees
- Employees who worked at home “reported higher job satisfaction”
Based on the positive results of the study, the company then opened the option of working from home to almost all employees, and in an interesting turn of events, half of the study participants who had been allowed to work from home returned to the office, citing concerns with isolation and perceived (but accurate) notion that employees who worked from home were less likely to be promoted and receive bonuses.
How can your business benefit from introducing flexible working?
Businesses can benefit from introducing flexible working in the following ways:
Actively reduced overheads such as office space
Flexible work patterns and home working can bring savings on workplace office space and overheads, which can eliminate the need to have to upgrade to bigger premises if your company is growing
Become a more eco-friendly organisation
By cutting commuting times and the need for polluting vehicles, your business can actively reduce employees’ carbon footprint.
A wider talent-pool for recruitment
As work-life balance becomes more and more valued, workers are now looking for flexible working options in potential jobs. By introducing flexible working options businesses can widen their search for talent and ensure their vacancies are displayed to a significantly higher proportion of potential applicants.
Reduce absenteeism from existing employees
Home workers take fewer sick days than office-based workers, according to a 2017 study by CartridgePeople.com.
Improved employee retention rates
Employees who feel they are able to achieve a better work-life balance are less likely to quit your organisation, which means your business saves on both recruitment time and costs, as well as the time and monetary costs of training a new employee.
By cutting out the need to commute to work, you also save your employees money (whether that be through eliminating the need for extra petrol and parking costs, train tickets or bus passes).
Long commuting times in particular effect employees’ perception of their work-life balance, and so saving an employee that time every day positively affects how they perceive their work-life. Working from home is now considered a very attractive employee benefit, and employees who do are less likely to leave for another job not offering the perk.
In summary there are some very real benefits to introducing a flexible working policy into your organisation. Of course whether such a policy would be compatible with your business is highly dependent on multiple factors such as your industry, working processes, and of course each individual’s ability and your team’s communication skills.
If you’re looking to introduce other employee benefits into the workplace, perkpal makes it easy. With hundreds of benefits, discounts and offers on demand, there is something suitable for everyone, and you can bring improved employee engagement and satisfaction to your team.
To sign up for perkpal or find out more, contact us today!