Eight million employees–about 31 percent of the workforce in Britain—work from home at least one day per week. More Americans are following suit. Why isn’t remotely working catching on more quickly?
The study by Virgin Media used 2,006 employees to come to these findings. Not only are there more people telecommuting, but the billions they bring to the UK economy is set to only grow and grow. More than half say they haven’t had the opportunity to work from home but have expressed the desire to make the change and at least be able to telecommute once per week. If these individuals found themselves with the ability to work remotely, that would make the number of British that do so jump to 15.6 million.
From the study:
“More people than ever are spending some of their working week at home, and our research shows that homeworkers depend on having a good broadband connection,” says Kerris Bright, chief marketing officer at Virgin Media.
“As it consults on more robust broadband advertising rules, the ASA must consider Britain’s growing army of homeworkers, and require companies to advertise average speeds across a full day.”
So why are so many companies so slow to understand the benefits of remote workers? Why is there such a stigma about working from home? We already know that telecommuting can save companies loads of money. A study performed by Global Workplace Analytics states that employers could save as much as $6,500 per employee, per year! Stephanie Lynch explored this surprising information in a recent article for AccelaWork. The number one reason? Reduced office space:
Even if your employee works part-time from home, you can coordinate it so that your business needs less workspace. For example, if you had a company with 50 employees, you could have 25 people show up one day, while the other 25 show up the next. This, in turn, leads to a lower electric bill, less office space you need to rent, fewer desks, less electricity and so forth. Even commercial real estate brokerage firms are recognizing the telecommuting trend.
One reason that some companies fear flexible schedules could be the reports that state remote workers still experience burnout, maybe even more than those who have to go into the office on a daily basis. Mark Robinson, the co-founder of Kimble Applications which is a professional service automation firm based in Boston, had a lot to say on the topic. He agreed that most of America’s billable workers are hardly ever in the office anymore. Most travel for work or are capable of working from home. Regardless of how you work, you still have billable hours that must be tracked and reported. Robinson’s company found that many workers are putting in crazy amounts of hours at work that aren’t reflected on their timesheets. Why are they underreporting their hours?
“Too many businesses have no idea how much they are pushing their employees, because many [workers] fudge their time to create the right optics for client bills,” says Robinson. As a result, businesses don’t know how much time it really takes to complete a task or project, and businesses don’t recognize burnout in employees when it happens, he adds.
Is it because the employee isn’t in their face on a daily basis that companies tend to not recognize the work they’re doing? These telecommuters not only recognize they work more hours than agreed upon, but state that is just what is necessary to get their work done.
“We talk about ensuring that employees are challenged, appreciated, and in sync with strategic objectives, said Mollie Lombardi, co-founder and CEO of Aptitude Research Partners, “but even when they have an intellectual or emotional engagement with their work they sometimes still feel overwhelmed.”
Working from home and having flexible schedules is definitely not perfect right now. Companies need to be willing to work on it in order to give their employees the best possible work and home balance. Happy people become happy workers!