It makes sense that there would be a correlation between a healthy workspace and employee morale and productivity, but what does a healthy workspace entail?
Within an office building, a healthy workspace can include items such as an ergonomic desk and keyboard, monitor placement, lighting, and other physical items to enhance the space (like diffusers and personal photos). Regular breaks allowed during the day to partake in physical fitness and/or stretching, as well as employee discounts at gyms and for fitness equipment, go a long way toward better moods.
To further foster the emotional needs of employees, some companies allow volunteering on company time. Employees feel valued when their company helps them to support their favorite causes. Volunteering as a group creates a sense of camaraderie and improves work relationships.
But what is the most essential factor for creating a healthier workspace according to a recent Business News Daily survey? Work-life integration through remote working.
In the Business Daily News survey of employees who work from home, it was found that:
- Twenty-nine percent (29%) of remote employees said they struggled with work-life balance when they worked in the office, and thirty-one percent (31%) said they used to have to take a day off every now and then for their mental health.
- Remote workers take longer breaks on average, but they remain productive for an additional 10 minutes per day.
- Remote employees work 1.4 more days per month than their office-based counterparts, resulting in more than three additional weeks of work per year.
Office employees often struggle with a lack of privacy and personal space. Introverts and ambiverts can feel drained by too much social interaction and interruptions. Overhead lighting can cause exhaustion and even migraines. But the greatest problems with office jobs is the commute time, lack of flexibility to work in more manageable (and healthier) blocks of time, and the inability to fit things into one’s daily schedule (like a doctor’s appointment).
Working from home creates the ultimate work-life integration, and has the following five benefits:
- Greater productivity
- Reduced absenteeism
- Cost savings for both employers and employees
- Reduced carbon footprint
- Increased talent pool
Employers who have not adopted a remote working policy often fear that employees will work less outside of the office, but in fact it has been demonstrated that employees do just the opposite. In a working from home productivity study conducted by Chinese travel website Ctrip, those employees allowed to work from home answered 13.5% more calls than those in the office. Employees are also more likely to work longer hours at home.
Hand-in-hand with greater productivity is reduced absenteeism. If employees can work a doctor’s appointment into their work from home schedule, that reduces the need to take a half, or even a full day off from the office. Additionally, many remote workers cite “greater mental health” as a benefit. Since Depression and Anxiety cost employers over $1Trillion per year in loss of productivity, this, alone, is quite a benefit for everyone involved.
While upper management wants employees to be happy to do their jobs, it also has to make fiscal sense, which is why cost savings tends to be near the top of the list of reasons why employers are interested in remote working programs.
In an interview with AreaDevelopment.com, Janine Grossmann, Practice Leader of Interiors for the Ontario offices of Perkins+Will says, “On average, companies typically spend a ratio of about $3 per square foot per year for utilities, $30 for rent, and $300 for payroll. This means that even small productivity gains as a result of health and wellness measures have larger impacts than cost savings from energy or rent. Organizations want healthier employees because — in addition to decreased costs associated with fewer sick days and less time off — healthy employees will also be more engaged in their work and in the organization.”
Carbon footprint is a hot topic currently, and most companies are looking for ways to reduce it. While many employers only focus on recycling and energy efficient appliances, they should also take a look at remote working as part of their Green Policy. A zero commute reduces one’s carbon footprint considerably. Multiply that by many employees over the course of a year, and that employer can offset quite a bit of global impact.
Finally, a considerable benefit for employers is an increased talent pool. Instead of just hiring locally, companies can now expand their searches worldwide to include a much more diverse population with which to build their team. This is especially critical for companies who are marketing globally. Why would you use just one demographic to appeal to many?
Whether a company’s main concern is to attract employees or retain them, reduce costs, or increase productivity, working from home is a great way to accomplish all of these goals. And with more companies offering this option, employees are beginning to expect it. It is clear that companies must embrace this work style and create a remote working policy that benefits their people and their bottom line.