Why Flexible and Remote Teams are More Productive
As more millennials push into the workforce and companies become more global, there is a growing trend of flexible and remote work. Businesses are beginning to measure employees on work output, rather than time spent in the office. There are obvious exceptions to this, especially companies who work with sensitive data, but this trend is growing.
At The Intern Group, our work ethic allows individuals to utilize the most productive schedule and workplace. I work remotely two or three days per week since I live over an hour from the office, saving myself five to six hours of transport per week. We have parents on our team that prefer to work in the early morning hours or after dinner, in order to meet their children’s needs. In addition, some people are simply more productive in the morning, evening, and in the middle of the night. The traditional 9-5 structure simply doesn’t suit everyone.
Not every company can offer remote and flexible schedules, but many can. In addition to increased productivity, we’ve found that these offerings make for happier employees and save resources for our company. For businesses considering offering flexible and/or remote schedules, here are the advantages we’ve experienced by doing so.
Some team members work well in an office, and so in order to best support this and our customers, we have a physical office in each of our destinations. However, some people prefer to work in a coffee shop or set up a home office. We prefer to have more productive employees rather than watching who is doing what and when. Furthermore, we hire and retain talent that thrives in this environment. We always allow for a learning curve, but employees that struggle to work on their own and need a micromanager, in the end, are not always going to be the best fit.
Employees can get more done without a commute and by finding locations that make them comfortable. Offices are sometimes incredibly loud and distracting, which is not a suitable environment for everyone. We support our people to make this choice for themselves and ensure we have other measures in place, such as regular in-person and video meetings, to ensure continuity of team connection and collaboration.
We have found that employees that have increased job satisfaction have a better work output. Of course, there are other factors at play here; employees have to enjoy the actual work as well. Also, since our team is so global, an employee may need to stay up late to take an international call. If their schedule then permits, the next day they can sleep late or start their workday late instead of feeling pressured to again commit to certain hours and then finding themselves drinking copious amount of coffee and producing low-quality work.
Employee happiness is essential, especially considering how costly it is to replace talent. Replacing a highly-trained employee can reach over 200 per cent of their annual salary. On the other hand, employees who categorize themselves as "engaged and thriving" are 59 per cent less likely to look for a job with a different organization over the following 12 months.
Looking at the bottom line, allowing flexible and remote work saves money. We rent a smaller permanent office since employees work remotely many days per week, which is an enormous cost reduction. It also allows us more choice in finding an office in a better location with greater access to our customers and partners. Companies that want to support a fully remote team can always use co-working spaces around the world for team-wide, in-person meetings. Using a smaller office also means cheaper utility bills, which is also another costly consideration.
The future of remote work
Statistics show that companies that do allow remote work have 25 per cent lower employee turnover than companies that don't. In addition, 74 per cent of employees said they would quit their current jobs to work for an organization that would allow them to work remotely more often, and that is even if their salary stayed the same.
Clearly, more employees want flexibility and remote work options. Furthermore, companies should begin to measure output rather than trying to micromanage what time each employee enters and leaves the office. We have had great success with this work model. We retain more employees and find their productivity is high when we allow flexible work options.
Companies can always test the waters by allowing employees to work remotely a few days per month as they measure how this changes the output. And employees can begin by taking a look at where and at what times they work most productively, whether in the office, at home, or at a co-working space, to find the location that best meets their work needs.