Why Allowing Your Employees to Work From Home Can Make You Both Happy
You might be surprised to find currently untapped financial gains just by putting employee happiness at the top of your priority list.
The way we work has fundamentally changed. There’s no doubt it is still evolving, but what we know about the way we work is that it can no longer be summed up by the decades-old “going to work” experience. Company-owned buildings, offices, and cubicles are no longer required to accommodate employees and the growing trend of companies offering flexible scheduling and remote work options for employees has substantial implications. There’s good news in that these new employment structures are impacting employee satisfaction and productivity in ways that employees and employers alike can celebrate.
Of the most significant factors affecting employee satisfaction is the employee-manager relationship. Communication is essential for relationships to flourish – especially employee-manager relationships. A recent Gallup poll found that employee engagement was highest among those with daily communication with their managers. By leveraging digital communication tools, employees who work remotely are able to have just as much, if not more, interaction with supervisors. Consistent, regular access to management creates a culture of connectedness and accountability – a culture where employee satisfaction is high. Not only does this allow for nimble adaptations in project approach or client strategy, but the immediate feedback loop positively affects employee engagement and motivation. The emergence of this unique employee-manager structure has allowed for managers to effectively monitor work and provide meaningful feedback, but to avoid micromanagement.
The most effective managers have been shown to be the ones who have respect for their employees as individuals. These managers actively work to help their employees find an ideal work-life balance. Recognizing and responding accordingly to situations where employees are disengaged, either physically or emotionally, from their work responsibilities is at the heart of building a relationship of trust and conviction.
Even though remote work arrangements seem to run counterintuitive to expanding the capacity of workplace productivity, giving employees the flexibility to fit work around their life actually improves worker productivity. The effects of building a company culture where employee satisfaction is valued translates into increased efficiency. That is, a happy and well-managed staff is likely to stay engaged, motivated, and committed to company objectives.
The flexibility that working remotely provides makes it easier for workers to strike their ideal work-life balance. A significant finding emerged from a 2000 study in which researchers found that on average workers reached peak productivity in their 30s and 40s. Most often concurrently, these same workers are tasked in their home lives with parenting responsibilities and the care of aging parents. Giving employees options to maintain flexible work schedules allows employees to give equal attention to both home and work life, enabling maximum productivity. What’s more, by eliminating commute time and spending less time in meetings, people who work from home actually spend more time working. Some find managing work responsibilities from a quieter environment, as opposed to a noisy office, more conducive to productivity.
Presented with all the benefits flexible scheduling and remote work options have to offer, some companies might find it tempting to quickly implement a flexible work program in order to start realizing benefits. But consider that this new work structuring also brings with it a new set of issues for managers to navigate. Supervising employees who aren’t location-specific and monitoring performance without personally interfacing require companies to put thoughtful initial focus on building a solid communication structure and setting manageable expectations for employees. Clear articulation of these expectations and structures is required for success.
While this type of work structuring might not be a good match for every employee or every workplace, the opportunity exists for employers to positively affect worker happiness while simultaneously increasing productivity. If your company is interested in exploring the benefits of offering flexible scheduling and remote workplaces, consider a trial period or experimental program. You might be surprised to find currently untapped financial gains just by putting employee happiness at the top of your priority list.