This past July, Forbes published the article For Employee Retention, There’s No Place Like Home which makes the case that employees are more apt to be happy and stay with your company if they have some flexibility when it comes to working remotely. Telecommuting is certainly on the rise, with about 40% of U.S. employees working remotely either full time or part time. Studies show that home-based employees are more productive (by 13%), amd almost all employees (80-90%) would like to work from home at least part time. Working from home is obviously not feasible for all types of jobs, but for those careers that can be mobile, it wouldn’t be possible without the cloud. And the reason the trend is continuing to rise has a great deal to do with the advanced tools available with Unified Communications, with features such as web meetings being a large component.
With online chat, email, etc., to communicate, the transition to working off-site is pretty straightforward for most companies. But how will off-site employee attend meetings with their supervisor and co-workers? What used to require a trip to the office can now be accomplished with a web meeting. If you are using a UC tool such as Microsoft Office 365 with Skype for Business paired with your existing phone system, you can start an impromptu or pre-planned meeting with your coworker via video or voice with a few clicks. In fact, it is about as easy to do the same with up to 250 people, whether they use Skype for Business or not (we will discuss in a later blog post what this can mean for reducing travel budgets in your company).
Accessibility to communications tools such as web conferencing are key to employee productivity when they work from home. Many businesses have an incorrect assumption that employee productivity will decrease when they allow employees to work remotely. Perhaps they picture their employees taking excessive breaks to catch up on soap operas or nap time. But studies contradict this assumption. The Harvard Business Review conducted a study that found working from home can save a company an estimated $1,900 per employee for the nine months. Not only saving money on space and furniture if people worked from home but the findings indicated people working from home completed 13.5% more calls than the staff in the office did – almost an extra workday a week! They also quit at half the rate of people in the office, reporting much higher job satisfaction.
Another benefit that web meetings can provide as part of an overall Unified Communications strategy is the ability to retain those employees you have spent years training but for one reason or another, are moving. Whether their spouse is relocated, they seek to be closer to family, or warmer weather is calling them, losing an employee who loves to work for you and you love to have is a hard pill to swallow. With the advances in UC, often times you can keep that great talent even if they are in another state!
In order to make a work-from-home program successful for your business, even if it is just a few days a month or on an as-needed basis, businesses must provide employees with the same access to communications, data, and applications no matter if they are in the office or at their home office. Web meetings certainly help build the business case, and will help you offer employee benefits that will pay off with higher retention of good employees.