Health and safety officials, business consultants and human resources specialists have been talking for years about the benefits of working from home.
Did you know that the first book exploring the concept of travelling less distance to work, The Telecommunications Transportation Tradeoff, by Jack Nilles , was published as early 1974?
This current enforced uptake in remote working due to the COVID-19 pandemic may not feel beneficial right now to beleaguered employers.
Indeed, it can be difficult to fully appreciate mere statements about why having employees working at home can be useful.
Let’s look at some startling figures, and how remote working can help to solve them.
51% late for work
A BrightHR survey of employees in 2018 outlined different categories of reasons that employees had given to excuse their lateness. Some are given below, along with how they could be reduced or even eliminated as reasons for lateness altogether:
- Traffic: 11.4% and Transport: 20.8%
More than a third (32.2%) of employee lateness was due to problems with the commute from home to workplace, such as cars failing to start, unexpected queues, or unpredictable train and bus timetables. If employees work from home, they will no longer have these problems.
- Oversleeping: 11.3%
Most people have overslept on a workday to some degree. Getting rid of commuting time will, for many people, allow a naturally later waking time which may by itself improve people’s likelihood of getting out of bed.
There are huge amounts of guidance on working from home, and a consistent thread is that it is important to get dressed in different clothes from your bedclothes, and to stick to a routine. However, if an employee oversleeps when working from home, it is easier for them to make up the losses and “arrive” on-time by not getting fully dressed, or eating breakfast at their workspace.
- Medical reasons: 8.4%
Some illnesses will always render employees completely unable to work. However, many short-term problems are far easier for employees to deal with at home that at work, so that they can still be productive. For example, someone with visual migraine symptoms might be perfectly able to operate a phone, but unable to safely drive to the office. Someone with a very splashy cold or a hacking cough might call in sick out of consideration for their colleagues’ wellbeing and patience – but as a remote worker, they can continue as normal.
17 hours of unnecessary overtime
A survey from MAXIS Global Benefits Network discovered that 70% of the UK workers they questioned worked for companies with a “desk-time” culture. This is where employees feel obliged to stay at their desk for more than the timespan in their contracts.
On average, UK workers worked 17 extra hours in a month.
Many companies consider that staying late at your desk is a sign of a hard-working and loyal employee. However, this survey showed very different motivations.
- Nearly 30% of them said that they would not take on extra work for the overtime, but would merely spread their existing workload out to fill the time.
- 12% of employees said that people in their company who do not stay late are “marginalised”.
These results suggest that these employees believe the appearance of staying late is more important to how they are perceived at work than the practical output of their ‘voluntary’ overtime. This behaviour is very likely to lower morale, and may, if they submit their overtime to the payroll department, be a wholly unnecessary cost.
Remote working can help to alleviate this situation by allowing monitoring of not only clocking-out times but by when employees stay connected to VPNs (Virtual Private Networks). There are many other ways to remotely supervise workers, including time management apps, key-loggers and constant video communication.
However, as the survey suggests, this culture is often more of a management problem than an individual employee flaw. Unfortunately, it can be easy for management to retain this kind of attitude by expecting remote employees to answer emails or phonecalls at all hours. This is an issue with trusting their workforce.
Working from home can help to prove to old-fashioned management that productivity does not have to be directly linked with the amount of time spent seen to be working.
24C – too hot? Too cold? Just right?
This is the temperature theorised by a researcher to be effective in improving female verbal and mathematical skills.
Office thermostat wars are a very well-known phenomenon which cost employers in wasted energy and contribute to arguments and stress within the workplace.
There is evidence that letting employees work in their preferred temperatures will actually improve their performance.
A study published in 2019 put the common anecdotal claim that female employees prefer warmer temperatures to the test.
542 university students from Berlin, both male and female, completed tests on their mathematical, verbal and cognitive skill. These tests were carried out in a carefully-measured range of temperatures which averaged between 16 and 32C.
At higher temperatures, women attempted more tasks, and also solved more of them correctly. There was also a slight improvement in their error rate at higher temperatures. Men demonstrated opposite results, with better results occurring in the low temperature environments.
Working from home will enable workers to have more control over the temperature of their environment. This benefits morale, their relationships with their co-workers, and potentially even their productivity levels.
HOW TO EASILY MANAGE REMOTE CLOCK-INS
Here at Tensor, we can offer newly-remote companies a web-based application to help them manage their employees who are working from home.
It is called the Self Service Module and it allows remote employees to clock themselves in and out at the start and end of the day, and to request holidays.
A record of their clock-ins and outs can be exported or printed, and the supervisor has full access to all the employees’ data on the app and can run reports if they need to.
There is also a Self Service Module mobile app.
One of the advantages of this over using a browser is that clock-ins via the phone are transferred with the GPS location. Ths confirms the phone’s location at the time of clocking-in, and a manager can view employee movements on a map.
If the employees go into an area of bad signal, the mobile app caches the information onto the phone and transfer it as soon as connectivity is restored.
Both staff and managers can book visitor appointments remotely, meaning that unnecessary phone calls or car journeys are eliminated.
For more information, please contact us on 01480 215530 or email us.