In the last several years, the concept of Work From Home (WFH) has become increasingly more popular. Though some still remain skeptical, it has been gaining in popularity and become more widely accepted among management circles. That said, the pandemic event in 2020 essentially set the debate entirely aside, at least for the time being, because WFH became the only choice between working and shutting down.
Aside from mandatory quarantines, why have organizations been adopting WFH policies? There are several factors that are motivating companies to select WFH.
1. Employee satisfaction
Many, but not all, employees like the freedom to work from home at least part of the time. Offering WFH opportunities can increase levels of employee satisfaction. This ties in to the increasing concerns employees have about work/life balance. Most workers, especially younger ones, prefer organizations that allow a greater balance between life and work and they perceive WFH to be an important aspect of creating that balance.
Worker productivity is a major driver for WFH policy adoption. In the end, increased productivity is a bottom line issue and studies have shown that in many cases productivity improves when employees work from home. It may seem one’s house has many distractions, but the office may have more. Colleagues visiting, the hustle and bustle of a busy office space, and impromptu meetings can steal a lot of one’s day. And anytime a person’s focus is pulled away from a task, it takes several minutes for them to get back onto the level of engagement they had before the interruption.
3. Less commuting time
Anyone who sits in traffic or on public transportation each day sees the merit in this benefit.
4. Recruitment and retention
Recruiting top employees remains a serious challenge no matter what the state of the economy. Increasingly, studies by major consulting and recruitment firms are determining that the opportunity to WFH can be a key factor when selecting a new employer. The lack of a WFH opportunity has also been shown to be a reason for seeking alternative employment. Also, it can become a branding issue: employees and applicants, especially younger ones, may perceive office-bound companies as obsolete, less cutting edge, less competitive, and thus less desirable employers.
5. Caregiving needs
While some WFH policies restrict at-home workers from handling caregiving needs, others provide WFH for that very reason. Employees who have child, parental, or spouse care responsibilities require flexibility to handle these demands. WFH may be a way to accommodate these needs. When it works, it can decrease turnover, as a large percentage of workers, especially women, end up leaving their jobs to handle child or parental care. That means losing quality, productive employees.
6. It may be greener
Cutting down on daily commutes may have a net positive effect on energy savings. However, if nothing else, employees will see a cut in their weekly transportation costs.
7. Real estate costs
For companies and organizations who believe WFH will be their long-term model, this can mean eliminating office space, cutting considerable fixed-costs out of the bottom line equation.