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July 4, 2018

Teleworking continues expanding, along with its fans

by Karen Talley

As teleworking, or working remotely, gains further popularity, telling feedback such as data and commentary indicating employees feel more industrious when working this way continues rolling in.

Of those with the option to work remotely, roughly half (54%) feel most productive when outside the traditional office environment and in a place such as their home, a coffee shop or a co-working space, according to a survey by Clutch, a B2B research company.

Better productivity isn’t the sole reason employees prefer nontraditional workspace options. A quarter (26%) of employees who are able to work remotely say a better work-life balance is the top benefit of working outside the office.

Flex hours, less distractions

Other perks are flexible work hours (21%) and fewer distractions (18%). These benefits may explain why workers not only feel they’re more productive when teleworking but also prefer to do so, with 62% saying they would rather work remotely.

“For too long, traditional companies have spent billions of dollars providing employees a place to work with a desk, cubical, break room, even fancy lunch options, but the modern operation is focusing on telecommuting to ignite cost savings and support a better work life balance for employees,” said Paul Szyarto, CEO of Datapella, in an email exchange. “A traditional company can spend upwards of $15,000 a month, per employee, to provide a place to work from. Those costs are high and unwarranted unless there is continuous collaboration needed for teams working.”

When a company begins supporting a telecommuting model, “there are not only costs savings, but since people can work in their own environment and be comfortable, an increase in productivity is typically also realized,” Szyarto said. “Employees can now work from home, or even the local Starbucks, in an environment more to their liking, without office distractions. Employees are also able to integrate their work life into their home life, getting more time with family and more work out of the day due to the decrease in travel and time constraints to work.”

MIT’s doing it

MIT Sloan’s Executive Education program features an approach that includes the ability to work remotely at least two or three days a week.

“We have established flexible work principles in hopes of enhancing the work-life balance of our employees while increasing agility as a business that frequently has staff working in a variety of locations across MIT’s campus and further afield,” said Dr. Peter Hirst, associate dean of executive education at MIT Sloan School of Management, via email.

A survey of the approach found:

  • 83% of employees indicated collaboration was either not adversely impacted or had actually improved through remote working and telepresence technology.
  • 90% said support for their personal and family life had improved.
  • 86% reported that stress levels were reduced.
  • 100% recommended other departments consider adopting similar flexible working policies and practices.

Greater job satisfaction

“I have found in my past managing of an employee base which was largely remote, the vast majority of employees see an increase in productivity and definitely greater satisfaction due to the flexibility and work-life balance,” said Greg Samios, CEO of Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory U.S. “The cohorts you have to be sensitive to are the folks operating at the extremes of the bell curve.”

Overachievers “can tend to blur the line between work and home and burn out quickly, so it is good to stay close to the A players to ensure that this is carefully managed,” Samios said. “On the other side of the curve, there will always be folks who exploit the system. So, managing output and outcomes is even more important and at the end of the day, this results in a better managed company.”

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