We all know time = money. So for businesses, the more time employees spend not working or working unproductively, the more money you’re losing. Especially during the winter, businesses face significant obstacles to productivity. The holidays make work/life balance tough, winter storms keep employees home, and the flu runs rampant.
What’s the answer to these winter woes? Telecommuting.
Telecommuting and work from home programs are growing rapidly as businesses realize the benefits of a flexible workforce. Here are a few of the ways that telecommuting can improve productivity and ultimately save you money this winter.
It Keeps Employees Safe & Productive, Even in Bad Weather
There’s nothing like a winter storm to turn roads into a salty, slushy game of bumper cars. Winter road conditions can make commuting a nightmare, and a major storm may prevent employees from getting to work at all. This in turn causes many small businesses to shut down, resulting in huge productivity losses. In the wake of the blizzard in 2016, a Global Workplace Analytics study estimated that each snow day costs Northeast businesses $1.3B.
Imagine, instead, if all of those businesses had remote work programs set up. While the snow was falling, most of their employees could have been happily working from home. Not only does this avoid losing whole days worth of working time, it also keeps employees safe.
Every year, more than 1,300 people are killed and 116,800 people are injured in vehicle crashes due to snowy, slushy, and icy roads. In fact, Pennsylvania is one of the worst states for deadly winter time crashes. Telecommuting eliminates the risk of commuting in bad weather, and it also reduces traffic on the roads, making them safer for everyone else too.
It Helps Employees Stay Healthy
Winter means flu and cold season, and the office is the perfect environment for spreading germs. We’ve all been there: one person comes in sick, and a week later, everyone is coughing and sniffling. Many employees will choose to go to work when they’re sick to avoid lost wages or protect precious PTO. More sick employees means more lost work time for the business and may impact their quality of work too.
By letting employees work from home, you give them a better alternative to stay productive without infecting their co-workers. Studies show that telecommuters take fewer sick days than non-telecommuters. In fact remote workers typically log 5-7 hours more per week, since they often work even when they’re sick or on vacation.
It Reduces Unscheduled Absences by Giving Employees Flexibility
78% of employees who call in sick really aren’t. They call off because of family issues, personal needs and stress.
In the winter months, plenty of things can interrupt your employees’ workday besides sickness – like school closures, shoveling the driveway, or a heater on the fritz. Unscheduled absences from these little issues add up quickly, costing employers about $1,800 per employee per year.
Telecommuting gives employees the flexibility to handle the unexpected interruptions of life without sacrificing the entire workday. Your employees win because they don’t have to stress about being home to get their kids off the school bus or talk to the HVAC repair person. You win because they can work a partial day from home, rather than simply calling off the whole day.
It Reduces Operational Costs
If an eligible employee worked from home just half of the time, they could save their employer about $11,000 per year. Of course, the vast majority of those cost savings come from things like real estate – you need less office space if you have more employees working remotely. So you wouldn’t see savings like that from employees staying home during snowstorms.
Still, even the little expenses around the office add up over time. Things like coffee, office supplies, printing, and cleaning. After implementing work from home programs, two big companies – Dow Chemical and Nortel – reported 30% savings on non-real estate costs.
Telecommuters Are More Productive, More Engaged and Happier, In General
There’s a reason why work from home programs are growing so rapidly: more and more employers are recognizing the benefits. Numerous sources support the fact that when working from home, employees are more productive, more engaged and happier.
As we already mentioned, telecommuters tend to put in more hours and fewer sick days, which certainly leads to higher productivity. But are also typically less distracted than their in-office colleagues. From water cooler chatter to office noise to impromptu meetings, there are a ton of little interruptions that ruin efficiency. Gallup even reported that remote workers were slightly more engaged than their colleagues.
Finally, the flexibility of working from home is often seen as a major perk that increases employee happiness. Remote workers often report a better work/life balance, including less stress, more sleep, and more job satisfaction. Plus they save time and money from not commuting. Perhaps that’s why 36% of workers would choose the ability to work from home over a pay raise.
This infographic from Vonage sums up the advantages:
Thinking about Telecommuting?
A work from home program offers a ton of benefits – certainly in the winter, but all year round too. If you’re thinking that telecommuting is right for your business, your next step is to develop a solid plan. Download our helpful e-book, all about setting up a successful work from home system for your business: