Published: December 13, 2017 | Comments
Think back to your last meeting. Were all of your teammates sitting around the table, or were a few colleagues calling in from around the globe? With the rise of telecommuting, chances are the answer is the latter (or it will be soon). Whether you call it working from home (WFH), telecommuting, telework, or remote work, lots of people are doing it—in America alone 13.4 million people work from home.
According to GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com, that’s more than double the amount that telecommuted in 2005. Work from home is becoming more and more popular—possibly from the influx of new Millennials in the workplace. Compared to other generations, Millennials are the biggest proponents for telecommuting, with 92 percent of Millennials desiring the option to work remotely, even if it’s just one to two days a week. Another study found that, when looking for work, 95 percent of Millennials say work/life balance is most important to them.
In other words, Millennials are demanding the option to work from home, and will choose their workplace accordingly; if companies want to attract and retain top talent, they need to incorporate flexible work options into their employee offerings.
With technology, our work can go anywhere
Why are Millennials so passionate about flexible work? Because it’s no longer necessary to physically be in the office to execute daily tasks. Whether you’re in a corporate building in the heart of the city or a cozy coffee shop a block away from your apartment, you’re plugged into a computer—blogging, responding to customer calls and emails, or analyzing spreadsheets. All you really need to work is a laptop and a decent wifi connection.
Even interpersonal communication, something often seen as necessitating face-to-face interaction, can be facilitated online. Advanced communication technology allows for effortless collaboration from remote locations. Google Hangouts, Blue Jeans, Zoom, Skype, you name it—we can connect with people across the world in a number of ways.
Benefits of a flexible work program
A flexible work program not only looks great to Millennials on a job posting, but also has vast benefits—for both employees and your company at large—once the candidate signs on.
Improved productivity. Think about everything happening throughout the day at work—espresso machines grinding, chatter at the desk next to you, impromptu meetings—there’s a lot going on, especially in offices and contact centers with open floor plans. All of this can be extremely distracting, and can be avoided by working from home. A study conducted by Stanford professor Nicholas Bloom found that the employees who worked at home had quieter environments, which increased their productivity by 13 percent. The study also found that people who work from home take fewer sick days—likely due to lack of office germs—and shorter breaks, further increasing productivity.
Higher job satisfaction. For some, working in an office can feel confining and draining. Fluorescent lights and uncomfortable chairs pale in comparison to your weathered couch and warm candles. Many people find that working from home sparks creativity and motivates them to succeed more than working in a traditional office environment. As such, many people have cited an increase in employee job satisfaction as a result of a telework model. From morning dog walks to lunchtime spin classes, remote work allows employees to do more of what they love, creating a close tie between their professional and non-professional lives (and higher satisfaction with both halves). For organizations, this means less employee turnover. Significantly less turnover, in fact—in an organization studied by Bloom, the attrition rate of remote employees was half that of in-office employees. With Millennials’ tendency to hop from job to job, upper management may consider flexible work schedules as a method for retaining the younger generation of professionals.
Saves time. On the days I go into the office, I spend four hours round-trip on my commute. There isn’t much work-life balance; instead, my scale teeters between “work” and “getting to work.” Working from home affords me time to invest in hobbies and relationships, to truly balance myself healthily. Emergency cavity filling or kiddo home sick? Working from home allows employees to navigate these roadblocks without missing full days of work—all it takes is hopping on a laptop from the waiting room to check in with your team or update pending tickets.
Saves money. Planes, trains, and automobiles can cost a lot. Whether you live five miles from work or fifty, few are able to get to the office cost-free. Avoiding long commutes not only gives employee’s wallet a break, but the planet, too. Companies save as well. Distracted employees, like those operating in an open office or closely surrounded by their peers, can cost companies a lot—up to $650 billion a year nationally, some sources cite. Implementing a flexible work schedule, allowing employees to work at home free of office distractions, saves an organization up to $2000 per person every year.
Right now I am sitting at my desk in Zendesk’s San Francisco office, seven floors above the buzzing city streets. I had back-to-back meetings all morning, at which, I should mention, half of the attendees dialed in from around the globe. I could have done the same, but I like having face time with my team during long discussions. That’s just me.
Tomorrow, I don’t have any meetings scheduled, so I’ll need to focus and get to the bottom of my inbox. I’ll likely forgo the lengthy commute for a quick walk to my local coffee shop, or perhaps the public library.
My ability to work from home keeps me feeling balanced—my productivity high, sick days low, and job satisfaction always climbing. It keeps me happy at work and feeling like my company cares about my needs; as a result, I give my best back to my company. My friends who aren’t allowed to work from home? Highly dissatisfied at work and actively looking for new jobs at companies that do offer flexible work options.
With a changing workforce comes a fresh set of requirements. If you’re hoping to bolster your Millennial workforce, offering flexibility—even if it’s just one day a week—may be the ingredient you need to get top Millennial candidates in your seats and keep them there.