More companies are choosing to give their employees real flexibility and options to work from home. Eurostat data confirms that working from home is on the increase across Europe: “The percentage of employed persons in the EU who sometimes work from home has increased steadily over the years, from 7.7% in 2008 to 9.6% in 2017.”
In 2017, the percentage of people who usually work from home in Europe stood at around 5%. “This figure was highest in the Netherlands (13.7%), followed by Luxembourg (12.7%) and Finland (12.3%)". Whilst Romania and Bulgaria had the lowest percentile of work from home employees. These figures are quite interesting as they mirror what happens on the other side of the Atlantic. In America, according to a 2018 US census, more than 5% of people worked from home.
The benefits of flexibility and working from home is obvious for employees but more and more studies are showing there are countless benefits also for employers.
A study carried out by Nicholas Bloom and James Liang (cofounder of the Chinese travel website Ctrip) shows the company actually reported an increase in productivity. “We found that people working from home completed 13.5% more calls than the staff in the office did.”
The work from home employees also had a higher rate of satisfaction than the control group which worked out of the office. And if that wasn’t enough, the company is said to have saved an estimated “$1,900 per employee for the nine months.”
Working from home will also eliminate commuting, meaning employees can use that time more productively, also reducing stress. It also means lower fixed costs for the employer as there is a reduction in utilities, office space, telephones and other costs associated with housing employees for the day.
Working from home is not for everyone
There is a great deal of self-motivation that is needed when working from home, so employees need to take ownership of their work and motivate themselves to complete their tasks. Certain jobs may also not be as suitable for work from home. Studies also show that people who have more stable social lives, such as older workers, married people and those who have kids appreciate the option of working from home a lot more than younger workers who have a social life more connected to the office.
Should you use “productivity tools?”
There are many tools out there who in some way or another attempt to measure the productivity of an employee. For jobs like customer care this may be an easy thing to do. But for other jobs which are more on the creative side (anything from marketing to software development), it would be very hard to quantify productivity by the number of keystrokes or time active. The best way to measure productivity is by setting clear goals or KPIs. Your employee will feel more in charge this way and it will foster a more trusting relationship.
Should you implement a work from home policy?
Yes, and this is very important! If you do want to give your employees real flexibility it is important to have a clear policy your employees can follow and everyone can refer to.
Some companies have certain days where all employees need to be in the office for face to face meetings. Others might want to cap the amount of work from home days, while others want the employees to take ownership and will give full flexibility as long as line managers are kept in the loop.
Working from home has many other benefits which go beyond the employee/employer dynamic. If there are more people working from homes this will also mean less traffic on the roads and less pollution.
Work-life balance is fast becoming a hugely important factor for many seasoned workers. Many desirable candidates will score a company high on their list if they offer true flexibility. Offering the option of working from home will definitely attract better candidates when you are looking for new employees. It might be time to reconsider the old practices of a 9 to 5 from the office.
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