Many companies are hopping on the remote workers train, even though there are some positions that just can’t be done remotely. Small businesses are beginning to hire employees that work remotely.
In Chicago alone, the number of people working from home has doubled since 2005. Those are pretty significant numbers. The Chicago Tribune pulled data from Global Workplace Analytics which stated that nearly 3.1 percent of the workforce, which is roughly 131,000 workers, are working from home. About 3.7 million people work remotely in the US, which doesn’t count those who are self-employed. It’s obvious that this trend is only growing. The Tribune interviewed a CEO by the name of Joe Hagan who has been instituting a work-from-home policy for three years.
“You’re always concerned people will not work as hard if they’re outside the office, which has proven here, at least, to be a fallacy,” said Hagan, who can see when people are logged in and active on the company’s work system.
So the biggest fear, which is employees becoming distracted while working from home, can be dispelled. However, if you are planning on switching to allow employees to work remotely, you may want to keep in mind that sometimes, moderation is key.
Studies have shown working remotely increases employee engagement, but in moderation, because there is still value in the relationships nurtured when colleagues are face to face. The most engaged employees are those who work off-site three to four days out of a five-day workweek, according to a report this year from Gallup.
This is great news, right? Why can’t every position be done remotely! Increased employee engagement is a goal any company should have. Not only that, but some studies have shown that companies that hire remote workers are actually helping to close the very pronounced gender gap we see in the tech industry. TechRepublic reviewed data from Remote.co which analyzed 53 remote companies and found that women made up 42% of leadership when compared to other S&P 500 companies with only a dismal 14% of female leadership.
“Particularly among tech firms, the freedom to work remotely is becoming increasingly popular with professionals,” said Dawn May, manager at Robert Walters, in a statement about the findings. “The flexibility these policies afford staff is a powerful draw for top talent and employers should consider whether they can introduce or expand these policies within their own organisation to secure the best professionals.”
How else does remote work help women? Flexibility, especially for working mothers. When you have a child, your priorities shift. Maternity leave in the US is disappointing to say the least. Most women can’t afford to be on maternity leave, which is really just 12 weeks off with no pay. If companies do offer remote work, they’re finding that new mothers are actually returning to work and a lot faster, too.
A Pew Research Center study found that 51% of women said being a working mother made it more difficult to advance their careers, while only 15% of working fathers said the same. It also found that 42% of mothers reduced their work hours to care for a child or family member, compared to 28% of fathers. Further, 27% of mothers said they quit their job to care for their family, while only 10% of fathers did the same.
Offering flexibility in the work environment is attractive to nearly everyone and obviously will help new parents transition back to work easily. In general, interest in working from home is at an all time high. It will be interesting to see what changes occur to the workforce when more companies move toward hiring remote workers.