The pros of working remotely seem to be top of mind for most businesses these days, and rightfully so - we find ourselves smack dab in the middle of a flexible workplace revolution.
Working from home became a very sudden reality for many employees around the globe when COVID-19 lockdown measures were put in place to curb the spread of the virus, sending HR professionals, ops managers and company directors into a collective tailspin as they tried to make sense of this rapid change.
The good news is that the world did not spontaneously implode when companies suddenly had no choice other than allowing their employees to work from home. In some instances, it even went, well, well.
International surveys show that 76% of global office workers want to continue working from home post-COVID-19. At this point in time, the estimate is that approximately 25-30% of the workforce will be working remotely multiple days a week by the end of 2021.
The pros of working remotely are pretty clear when you view it from an employee’s perspective - they don’t have to battle the dreaded commute, they can work in whichever space (and pants) they find most comfortable, and (given that flexi-time is on the table) they are able to organise their workday around other responsibilities (e.g. childcare) they may have. It’s pretty great.
However, the truth of the matter is that the new remote working trend is saving businesses money.
Kate Lister, President of Global Workplace Analytics, was recently quoted as saying that "Work-at-home employees will save U.S. employers over $30 Billion a day in what would have otherwise been lost productivity during office closures due to COVID-19."
Those are some pretty sizable numbers right there.
According to statistics from 2017, 42% of all South African companies had employees working from home on a full-time basis back then, and this number is sure to increase in the wake of the pandemic. It only stands to reason that an increase in remote collaboration will stand to benefit forward-thinking local enterprises in terms of ROI as well.
Here are a few pros of working remotely that can help South African companies to keep overheads low and ROI high in months and years to come:
No commute = less staff absenteeism
The daily commute is not good for the health and wellbeing of your workforce, no matter how you slice it. Whether they're sitting in traffic, taking a train or arriving by taxi, just the process of getting to work saps a lot of energy from a person - energy they could be spending on their work, from the comfort of their homes.
Supercharged employee retention
Employee churn is bad for business.
Recruitment costs alone are astronomical, and then you have to factor in the revenue that goes down the pipes while a new employee settles into their role with the help of existing employees who have to put their own work on the back burner while they are busy showing someone the ropes. This is why employee retention is such a big deal for companies who like to stay competitive.
The pros of working remotely are very attractive for Millennial job seekers, as well as members of Gen X and Z. A more flexible approach to workspace appeals to these agile, entrepreneurial spirits and being able to offer it as an option gives companies who do an edge over those who don’t.
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A bigger pool of talented applicants
When a business is open to the notion of a dispersed team, the pool of potential job applicants gets a whole lot bigger very quickly. After all, this means you could be recruiting top talent from anywhere around the world, instead of having to settle for the small grouping of likely candidates who happen to live within commuting distance of your office. This can be particularly beneficial in locations with skills shortages, such as smaller towns outside of a city metropole, etc.
Lower rental expenses
One of the major pros of working remotely from a business perspective is the ability to keep overheads low. When there are fewer backsides that require seats, your office space doesn’t have to be nearly as big. This is great news at a time when rental rates in Joburg are often in the R245/m² vicinity, and prime Cape Town real estate isn’t that much cheaper at R220/m² for sought-after locations.
Increased employee engagement
It may seem counterintuitive that employee engagement will increase when people work offsite, but it’s true. SaaS-based employee engagement solutions like bountiXP make it simple to keep a dispersed team connected in a cohesive fashion by using timeous, specific employee recognition and reward as a way to promote preferred behaviours among co-workers.
So where’s the money?
Well, employees who are actively disengaged in work could be losing the South African economy as much as R700 billion in lost revenue per year. On the flip side, highly engaged teams show a 21% greater profitability than their competitors, and every 1% in employee engagement is associated with at least 0.6% growth in sales for a given organisation.
There you have it - five ways in which companies save money when their employees are allowed to work from home. The financial pros of working remotely are pretty clear.
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