Remote Work: How Telecommuting Is a Win for Everyone

The traditional office setting has its perks: community, an environment set up for productivity, common meeting spaces for face-to-face interaction.

But with global access to reliable video meeting services and a host of other cloud-based team management tools, remote workers have access to the same perks, plus a host of other bonuses: fewer distractions, less micromanagement, little or no commute, and — most importantly — location independence.

This isn’t a one-sided victory, either: businesses hiring remote workers also see lower costs, lower turnover, happier employees, and a worldwide talent pool.

When Your Team Can Work from Anywhere, You Can Hire from Anywhere

If your team works remotely, they don’t have to be in the city where your company is based. You can hire the right person for the job, no matter where they are in the world.

remoteok.io screenshot.

Remote job boards make it easy to find location-independent workers.Credit:remoteok.io

This means a developer living in Iowa doesn’t have to drop everything and move to San Francisco or Brooklyn to have a shot at getting a cool startup job.

This means an entrepreneur in Mississippi can hire top talent from anywhere in the world without having to convince anyone to move to Mississippi.

On a remote team, the workforce expands from whatever the population of your home town is to approximately 4.8 billion working-age people who may be able to meet a need for your company.

Remote Workers Are Results-Based by Default

One of the best ways to make sure employees and contractors feel empowered is to switch to a results-based approach where employees are rewarded for efficiency instead of just showing up.

Moving to a results-based environment is a huge win for any company (and its employees), and adopting a telecommuting culture is a great way to kickstart the process.

Remote Workers Are More Productive

In a study performed at a call center, employees allowed to work from home were 13.5% more productive than those working in the call center.

There’s a psychological benefit to this as well: reciprocity.

When we grant an employee the freedom to work on their own schedule, it’s a display of trust.

Humans are hard-wired to reciprocate: put your trust in someone and their default response will be to reciprocate by doing good work — repaying your trust, so to speak.

Remote Work Lowers Turnover

After introducing a Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE), Best Buy saw an astonishing 45% reduction in turnover: nearly half the people who would have quit stayed with the company because they were happier with the job.

This is important, because the cost of turnover adds up fast:

It costs upwards of twice an employee’s salary to find and train a replacement. And churn can damage morale among remaining employees.

The Wall Street Journal

Remote Work Empowers Employees

Make the job something workers love.

Employees who feel in control of their work lives love their jobs.

When we’re not being micromanaged, we’re able to self-direct and take ownership of tasks.

This shouldn’t be understated, because employee ownership likely plays a huge role in the reduced turnover ROWE reported.

As an employer, the Holy Grail of creating a healthy culture is employee engagement — this is a buzzword that, at its core, describes employees who feel personally responsible for the success or failure of the company.

Letting employees go remote forces them to own their tasks in order to perform well. This gives them a sense of autonomy and reduced pressure.

Personal responsibility leads to an emotional investment in the success or failure of projects — and like magic, your company has better employee engagement.

Instead of just keeping butts in chairs, you build a family of employees who care about the company’s future.

Remote Work Lowers Costs

For a startup in San Francisco, getting office space for 10 employees will cost about $6,000/month.

Imagine putting that money back into the operating fund. Even if you buy all 10 remote workers a Herman Miller office chair, you’d still save about $57K over the course of a year by letting them work remotely and push that chair up to their desk at home.

In addition, remote workers are far less likely to call in sick: there are 63% fewer unscheduled absences for telecommuters over in-office workers.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are quite a few arguments that suggest remote working saves money.

The only real argument against remote work is “I don’t trust my team”.

All the other arguments are (scientifically) invalid.

Remote Working Just Makes Sense

According to the research, remote workers are healthier, more productive, less likely to quit, less expensive, and even less likely to get divorced.

Why the hell isn’t everyone already doing this?

What to do next.

As adults, we’re supposed to build careers, build relationships, build futures, build happiness… It’s all pretty fucking overwhelming. It’s easy to feel stuck — like we’re on autopilot, punching a clock, and buried in tasks we don’t really care about.

Wouldn’t it be nice to get some balance back? To have extra time every day to dedicate to the things that actually matter to you?

I want to help: I’ve compiled 5 Habits of the Unfuckwithably Productive, and I want to give it to you for free. These are time-tested habits that helped me break the cycle of overwork and exhaustion; this is how I spend less than 40 hours a week on the computer — while making a living and traveling the world.

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