Remote work is becoming more and more popular. There was a 26% increase in the number of remote jobs posted last year, and that number is only expected to grow as our economy becomes more global. Long embraced by tech, finance and business service companies like IBM, MasterCard and Gartner, remote work is becoming more and more accepted across most industries and verticals.
At K Street Partners, we operate on a location-independent model. We believe it’s possible to work anywhere with the right support system. Many of us are in New York, but we have satellite offices across the country and around the globe. While we do have brick-and-mortar work spaces, we encourage our team to take advantage of the opportunity to work remotely.
Here are seven reasons you might want to consider location independence at your company, too.
1. Increase productivity
It’s often easier to maintain focus in a comfortable work environment of your choosing, versus an “open plan” cafeteria-style setting in which the person next to you is shouting into the phone all day while you’re trying to think through a complex problem for your client.
A Stanford study found that homeworkers’ productivity increased by 13% over the course of nine months, due in part to quieter working conditions, and the rate of staff turnover fell almost 50%.
2. Enhance efficiency
Commute time can be upwards of 50 miles round trip for the average American worker, and the The Texas Transportation Institute reports that traffic gridlock costs $78 billion annually, or 4.2 billion lost hours. In another study conducted by Staples, 76 percent of remote workers reported that, without the (often long) trek to the office, they were more willing to put in extra time on work and felt more loyal to their company.
Another study by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) found that 3.9 million telecommuters reduce fuel consumption by about 840 million gallons and carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 14 million tons, so there is a positive benefit for the environment as well.
3. Promote health and happiness
According to several studies, remote workers report that working from home cut their stress in half. In fact, a recent story on telecommuting found that 82 percent of telecommuters said their overall stress level was lower, and 80 percent said they felt better about themselves and their work because they worked remotely. In the Staples study above, 73 percent said they even eat healthier when working from home.
4. Encourage work/life balance
Being location independent helps foster good work/life balance, particularly for people with health issues or disabilities, people who are caring for elderly parents or children and people who live in rural environments far from urban centers. In the Staples survey, 86 percent of respondents said they were better able to balance career and personal priorities when they worked from home. And a study by Telework Research Network reported that four out of five workers felt remote work helped them cope more effectively with family and career-related matters.
5. Hone communication skills
When you work remotely, you learn to be efficient and strategic in your communication. You don’t often spend the first 10-15 minutes of a meeting hovering over the bagel tray or discussing the aggressive air conditioning. And because you can’t always see the other members of your team or your clients, you’re forced to think harder about the language you use, honing your communication and presentation skills in every meeting you have.
6. Foster collaboration
Client in Australia? No worries, mate. Team member in Las Vegas? Roll with it. Location independence means it’s easier to take calls late at night or in the morning, easier to build in breaks in the middle of the day to accommodate these types of meetings, and easier to be responsive to the people with whom you’re collaborating. Also, the proliferation of apps to support location-independent teams is staggering: Google Docs/Sheets, Hangouts, Basecamp, Slack, and Dropbox are just a handful that K Street has used to collaborate remotely, depending on the needs of the project and the client.
7. Reduce overhead
A remote workforce has helped plenty of big, successful companies save money on overhead. According to InnoVisions Canada, organizations can eliminate one office for every three telecommuters. IBM saved $56 million a year after reducing office space by 2 million square feet, and has saved about $100 million annually since beginning its remote-work program.