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The Growing Benefits of a Remote Workforce

4 Oct. 2017 Posted by aadams

Amy Haft, FEI Senior Account Manager

With one year of being a remote worker under my belt, I am pleased to say I have become a
big fan. 

If you haven’t noticed, remote working is on the rise. In its most recent State of the American Workplace survey, Gallup noted that 43 percent of employees work away from their team members at least some of the time (up from 39 percent in 2012). According to Global Workplace Analytics, that translates to 20 to 30 million Americans working at home at least one day
a week

Given the proper resources—a computer, good cell service, an internet connection and access to the company’s messaging systems and internal network—many people can and do opt to work from home or other remote locations. Working remotely offers many benefits for both employers and employees. From my experience, working from home has improved my work-life balance and provided the flexibility to make medical appointments during the day as well as attend my grandson’s school functions. It motivates me to put in time later in the day at my home office, an opportunity I wouldn’t otherwise have.

Because of these benefits, telecommuting has become a proven recruitment incentive. Employers also benefit from these arrangements with increased productivity (more than two-thirds of employers report increased productivity among telecommuters), reduced office expenses, reduced travel costs and lower absenteeism and turnover. It benefits the environment as well: With fewer commuters on the roads, there’s reduced fuel consumption, traffic congestion and air pollution.

What do I miss most? My colleagues of course. But even though I work alone, I don’t feel isolated. I have daily contact and the support of my coworkers, either one-on-one or during meetings. My customers are located all over the country, so they are used to hearing from me by phone. Regular meetings with different work groups and my supervisor provide both meaningful interaction and feedback, which make me feel valued and appreciated. Although I’m not in the office, I still feel part of FEI’s culture. 

With telecommuting and other remote workplace options becoming increasingly popular, what can companies do to maintain engagement with their remote staff? A few suggestions from this remote employee:

Communicate regularly with your remote employees to build trust and a supportive relationship. Acknowledge their contributions and remind them that they are a vital part of
the organization.

Include remote workers in all communications, even if the distance makes it untenable for them to attend office events. It will nevertheless make them feel integral to company culture. 

To ensure remote participation in meetings or with team projects, include network-based options like a telephone conferencing bridge; management software such as SharePoint, OneDrive, or Slack; or live audio/video capabilities through Skype, FaceTime, or
Google Hangouts. 

Consider allowing telecommuting if you don’t already. It is an easy accommodation that will benefit the employer, employee and the environment, and many industries have already taken the plunge.

Thinking of making telecommuting available for your employees, but unsure where to begin? Perhaps you want to expand previously developed telecommuting options? Or maybe you just don’t know if remote employment is the right fit for your organization.

Talk with staff and open discourse with senior leadership. Make the case for increased productivity, employee retention and lower operating costs. Keep in mind that, with the
recent avalanche of natural disasters across the U.S., telecommuting became a necessity for many employees in impacted areas where they were unable to get to their offices, or offices were closed.

Workforce trends have spoken, and they are saying the same thing: Remote work is here to stay.


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