The Economic Case for the Remote Workplace and Flexible Scheduling

The Economic Case for the Remote Workplace and Flexible SchedulingEmployers are increasingly finding flexible scheduling for employees attractive for a number of reasons – not the least of which is to produce cost savings.

At 9:15 AM Sam drops his kids off at school and heads over to the coffee shop near his house. He grabs a coffee, cracks open his laptop, responds to a couple of emails, and finalizes his notes for a presentation he’ll be giving tomorrow. Sam’s manager, Barbara, sends Sam a text letting him know the time for next week’s video conference has been changed. For the rest of the morning Sam works among the coffee shop’s other patrons.

Sam’s remote office and flexible work schedule have become increasingly ubiquitous among today’s workforce. Undoubtedly a driving factor in the shift for companies to facilitate more flexible work arrangements for their employees is employer cost savings. Offering this type of autonomous, flexible scheduling for employees can impact a company’s bottom line, sometimes dramatically. If your company hasn’t contemplated offering remote work options or flexible scheduling, take a look at some of the financial advantages it could be missing out on:

Cost reduction of real estate and utilities

That real estate is most often a company’s second largest expenditure is good reason to explore the cost savings benefits that remote work environments provide. When employees aren’t required to be location-specific, companies are very likely to realize a reduction in facility expenditures. After Sun Microsystems implemented a program to arrange for employees to work remotely, the company reported a cost savings of over $387M in annual building-related costs. In a similar move, Canadian-based ATB Financial, reduced their office space by 88,000 square feet and saved $2.6 million annually. In addition to office space, the reduction in building utility costs represents a significant financial incentive for employers considering that office equipment energy consumption rate is twice that of home office equipment energy consumption. Allowing employees to work from home shifts that utility cost off employers.

Lowered absenteeism

Employee absenteeism accounts for $300 billion in lost income for U.S. companies annually. Some employers are finding the uncertainty and decreased productivity – and ultimately lost profits – created by absenteeism are being hedged as a direct result of flexible and remote work policies. Six out of every ten U.S. households with children are homes where all parents work, and approximately 40 million Americans provide unpaid care to an elderly relative or friend. Without workplace flexibility, these workers are often faced with taking time off work to attend to the needs of those who rely on them. Maintaining flexibility in their work schedule allows workers to attend to personal and family issues without disrupting the production of work. Companies can help employees balance these obligations while decreasing workplace absenteeism by structuring work schedules to be adaptable.

Attraction of top talent

The cost associated with recruiting top talent is significant; companies have an incentive to find unique ways to recruit valuable employees. Arranging remote or flexible work options can be an effective strategy in achieving that objective. A 2014 study by The Council of Economic Advisors found that 49% of working parents have passed on a job opportunity because they felt it would conflict with family obligations. In an effort to appeal to top candidates, employers should not only include flexible work options as part of the overall compensation package for job candidates, but encourage workplace flexibility for current employees. A truly supportive workplace culture will signal to candidates that your company values its employees.

Reduction in turnover

To combat the high costs of recruiting and training new employees, many companies often seek cost-effective ways to retain current employees. Similar to the way remote working and flexible scheduling lowers absenteeism, they also help to reduce turnover. In the same 2014 report, researchers with The Council of Economic Advisors described a steady increase in childcare costs over the last 25 years that has led to workers finding it more difficult to find affordable childcare. Coupled with the additional demands of an unexpected illness of a child or other family member, it underscores the growing need for the expansion of remote and flexible workplace policies.

Modern workplaces are beginning to move away from the antiquated Henry Ford notion of workers as cogs and recognize employees as individuals who require flexibility in order to equally respond to all demands of life. Employers are increasingly finding flexible scheduling for employees attractive for a number of reasons – not the least of which is to produce cost savings.

Has your company realized financial benefits from offering your employees the option of working from home or flexing their work hours?

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