A recent article published in Inc. declared that work-from-home arrangements are the “World’s Smartest Management Strategy,” highlighting the financial, competitive, and employee benefits of allowing employees to work remotely or from home (even if it’s just a few days a week).
That may sound like a stretch, but work-from-home, flexible and remote work policies really are transforming businesses across all industries. Employees with flexible work options are more engaged, more productive, and healthier; not to mention the organizational benefits of embracing flexible work, including reduced turnover and decreased payroll and facility costs.
Here’s an excerpt from the article, highlighting two of the five reasons managers should consider implementing a work-from-home strategy:
1. It raises employee productivity.
In a landmark study cited in the Harvard Business Review(PDF), call center workers on Ctrip—a Chinese travel website—were given the option to volunteer to work from home for nine months. Half the volunteers did so; the other half was the control group and thus continued to work at the office each day.
The study revealed that “people working from home completed 13.5 percent more calls than the staff in the office did—meaning that Ctrip got almost an extra workday a week out of them,” according to Stanford University professor Nicholas Bloom.
Another study, this one from Gallup, found that employees who work from home three to four days a week are 33 percent more likely to “feel engaged” and 15 percent less likely to feel “not engaged” than employees who report to the office each day. Numerous studies have found that increased employee engagement boosts productivity.
2. It reduces attrition rates.
The cost of employee turnover is huge—far larger than most people, even managers, assume. Depending upon the study, recruiting, hiring, and training a replacement after an employee departs can cost up to two full years of that employee’s salary. Assuming, of course, you can find a qualified candidate—a difficult task in a hot economy.
In the Ctrip study cited above, the employees who worked from home reported “much higher job satisfaction” and “quit at half the rate of people in the office,” a result that Bloom said “was beyond what we anticipated.”
In addition to lowering your attrition rate, a work-from-home policy can make it easier to recruit new employees. This is especially true for Millennials, according to a 2018 study at the University of Akron, which found that “41 percent of them state that they prefer communication via electronics as opposed to in person or over the phone.”