Save $10,000 per employee by encouraging telework

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It’s hard to embrace change when you don’t know what those changes might bring, but if your company isn’t adjusting to embrace remote workers and telework you could be missing out on some hefty advantages.

London mayor Boris Johnson recently described working from home as a “skiver’s paradise” – a sentiment shared by many managers. However, the facts don’t match that image, a new Canadian study found.

The WorkShift Canada Telework report estimates employers could save almost $10,000 per employee by allowing workers to stay at home two days a week.

“The biggest factor [in productivity] is that you’re not distracted by all the things that typically go on in a regular office environment,” report author Kate Lister said. “The trend with leading companies now is to realize offices should be places where people go to collaborate and to work together and quiet environments are where they should go to concentrate.”

As well as fewer interruptions, employees generally manage their time better and work longer hours – in fact, overworking is one of the major issues to work through with teleworkers. The majority of teleworkers will work two or three days at the office, and the rest of the week off-location. Lister added that because employees want to be trusted with the right to work from home, they work hard to get good results.

As more and more workers seek work/life balance, flexible work options may be the key to increasing productivity. A recent survey found that while office workers could only work 38 hours a week before they lost work/life balance, teleworkers could manage more than 57 hours a week.

Robyn Bews, manager of Calgary-based WorkShift, has spent three years encouraging and assisting businesses to adopt telework. Bews was motivated to bring Lister in because she wanted a comprehensive business case about the impact of telework on individuals, community, business and the country. Alongside the increasing use of smartphones and mobile technology, people are already working from anywhere and everywhere – it’s just a matter of accepting that and adjusting to make it work for the company and the individual, she said.

“The old image of telework, of people sitting at home in their bunny slippers, is antiquated,” Bews said. “The message is no longer change how people work, instead it’s embrace how people are already working.”

ATB Investor Services worked with WorkShift over the last two years to develop telework options for their staff. Their pilot program started in November last year, and they couldn’t imagine going back to the old way of working, Sherri Wright-Schwietz, head of talent and story said.

“We did self-assessment and manager assessed performance based on targets and timelines. We had a 40% increase in productivity,” she said.

In fact, five people who were part of the pilot but chose to work from the office saw an increase in the productivity of their colleagues and have chosen to shift to the flexible work option.

There were significant savings as well. An assessment before the pilot found the company was using its real estate space less than 40% of the time. The company is extending the program to another 130 staff because of the success of their first pilot. Since then they’ve reduced their space by 36%, including adapting a space that held 12 people to serve 60 people.

Know the numbers:

  • Telecommuters give back 60% of the time they would have otherwise spent commuting, doing work. With an average national commute of an hour, that’s 72 minutes of extra work every day.
     
  • Alpine Access, one of the US’s largest all-virtual employers, attributes a 30% increase in sales and 90%  reduction in customer complaints to its home-based agents.
     
  • Best Buy measured an average productivity increase of 35% through its flexible work program.

Interested in telework as a tool for attraction/retention? Check HRM next week for how you can make flexible work options your point of difference as an employer.

 

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