Early April, 2020. The world came to a full stop as a global pandemic unfolded and turned the workforce upside down. Suddenly, it was comprised of three types of employees: essential, non-essential, and remote. The shift happened fast, but many organizations found themselves depending on employees to work remotely. After a little over a year, the data is in. Companies found their employees productivity and performance were maintained and, in many cases, increased! Office expenses lowered, absenteeism rates reduced, and retention improved. This doesn’t come as a shock to those who have studied work from home benefits pre-COVID. Research has shown that people who spend at least a portion of their typical workweek outside the office have higher workplace satisfaction, job commitment, engagement, and score higher on indicators of innovation. We’ve solidified a lot of knowledge around the benefits of work from home. However, there are a few you may not have considered! Let’s look at some less widely discussed WFH benefits.
Building a remote workforce allows companies to welcome diversity and inclusion. It gives companies the chance to expand into other socioeconomic, geographic, and cultural backgrounds and experience different perspectives. This can be challenging when limited to a specific region that may not be available or affordable for everyone. A remote team can reflect a company that chooses to support diversity, community, and family. Inclusion of workers with disabilities or who have caretaker responsibilities open up access to talented individuals who struggle with on-site work. All in all, diverse and unique perspectives make for a workforce comprised of different strengths, experiences, and ideas!
The first thing worth noting is the reduction of cars on the road. This immediately reduces greenhouse gas emissions, fossil fuel consumption, and energy usage. Air quality improves, which has a direct impact on human health. Current remote workers avoid emitting roughly 3.6 million tons of greenhouse gasses per year, greatly reducing our carbon footprint. In addition to impressive measurable numbers, we can make some assumptions about reductions in paper and plastic use for those opting for a coffee mug vs a to go coffee and preparing their meals at home vs on the go. WFH could play a big role in affecting climate change by reducing travel pollution.
Work Life Balance
Many professionals juggle the 40+ hour work week along with the responsibilities of a family, children, and extracurricular activities. It can be a struggle to jam “life” into the hours of 6pm-9pm. Working from home is most effective when paired with flexible schedules, allowing employees the opportunity to take care of their personal life and stay on top of their workload. The ability to balance both your job and your life instinctively is irreplaceable. It establishes trust and loyalty to the employer and improves worker morale. This uptick in morale ties directly to increased productivity and mental health leaving both the employee and the employer reaping the benefits.
The pandemic has caused a lot of challenges in both our personal and professional lives, but these challenges present an opportunity for improvement. Perhaps we can shift our perspective and focus on the potential ahead. This unexpected rebound from a global event gives companies the chance to be change agents and to actively pursue and leverage policies that support diversity, the environment, and the wellness of their employees.