According to the “State of Remote Work 2017″ report from Owl Labs, 52 percent of employees work remotely at least once per week, and 65 percent of employees who don’t work remotely at all wish that they could. Remote work is transforming from a luxury to a common expectation, and businesses need to find the best ways to adapt.
Perhaps you’ve already considered allowing your employees to work remotely – and perhaps you, like many managers, are hesitant about it.
Will allowing remote work decrease productivity? Will you need to change your management style? How will you keep tabs on team performance?
As it turns out, remote work is just as beneficial for the business as it is for the employee. Here’s why:
1. Remote Work Improves Employee Retention
Hiring and training employees can be expensive and time-intensive processes. Losing an employee means losing that investment – plus, turnover negatively impacts team results, momentum toward major goals, and team morale.
According to the Owl Labs report, companies that support remote work have 25 percent lower employee turnover than companies that don’t. Why is that?
Fifty-one percent of employees who choose to work remotely do so in order to improve their work-life balance, and 47 percent do so to lessen their commutes. In these ways, remote work removes some of the stress from work, which leads to happier, healthier, more engaged employees.
2. Remote Work Increases Trust
Companies that support remote work also benefit from a growth in trust between managers and employees.
Historically, managers would simply use their eyes to check on employee productivity. Does the employee come into the office early and leave late? Can you consistently find the employee typing away at their desk?
Managers of remote employees don’t rely on those visual cues, which sends a powerful message to employees: “I don’t need to hover over your shoulder and watch you work. I know you’re being effective. I trust you.”
Research shows that employees who feel trusted are more productive and engaged, which makes them more likely to stay with the company in the long term.
3. Companies That Support Remote Work Make Faster Hires
Fully-distributed companies (meaning companies without corporate offices) take 33 percent less time to hire, on average, than other companies. While going fully remote may not be an option for your business, there is still a lesson to be learned here.
Pick one of the open roles on your team and estimate the number of potentially qualified individuals within a reasonable commute distance to your office. Got the number? Great. Now, estimate the number of potentially qualified individuals in the entire country. Big difference, right?
Being open to hiring remote employees significantly expands your talent pool. When you have access to a larger group of qualified candidates, you’ll speed up your recruiting process.
Don’t Fall Into the ‘Out of Sight, Out of Mind’ Trap
One unfortunate discovery of the Owl Labs report is that remote workers have 25 percent fewer career conversations on average than their on-site colleagues. This indicates that many managers suffer from an unintentional bias by which they prioritize the employees they see in person on a daily basis for new roles, opportunities, and responsibilities.
What can managers do to address this? First, schedule regular one-on-one conversations with remote employees to make sure you have opportunities to discuss their work, careers, or whatever else may be on your employees’ minds.
Next, whenever a new opportunity arises, take stock of the whole team. Think through the impact each employee has had lately. When this becomes a habit, you’ll be less likely to fall back on whomever may be sitting nearby when it’s time to assign new responsibilities.
Max Makeev is CEO of Owl Labs.
Max Makeev is cofounder and CEO of Owl Labs, the creator of the Meeting Owl 360° video conferencing camera. It improves meetings for remote attendees by automatically focusing the camera on the people in the room when they speak. Max’s career has been centered around robotics, and prior to founding Owl Labs, Max was a product leader at iRobot. Max’s passion is improving collaboration among distributed teams, which includes the 40 percent of Owl Labs employees who work remotely today.