Back in the 1950s, the concept of ‘telecommuting’ was first touted as being the future of work. The term was said to have been coined by Jack Niles, a former NASA engineer who proposed it as an innovative answer to traffic, urban sprawl, and scarcity of non-renewable resources. The concept is still around, but in 2020, we all know it simply as ‘working from home’, or just ‘WFH’.
Covid-19 ushered in the biggest ever jump in WFH. Offices around the world closed down, video conferencing companies saw their subscriber numbers skyrocket and cloud companies rejoiced.
WFH is in the news again this week. As some governments are encouraging a return to working in offices while giving businesses discretion, companies are weighing up the pros and cons.
There are many learnings from 2020's globally-enforced WFH directive, but I believe the biggest takeaway is that companies can operate and even thrive with their employees working remotely. One recent study by Stanford University found that home-workers in China did 13.5% more work than those in the office – nearly a whole extra day’s work each week. Telecommuting has finally arrived.
By dropping the idea of teams being based in a company building, and embracing a ‘Work from Home’ culture, companies are presented with opportunities that go beyond saving corporate square metres of prime real-estate. Here are 3 ways that WFH can boost your corporate IQ.
- Access to a wider talent pool - With a remote workforce, a company can employ people from literally anywhere and attract the best candidates, without restricting the talent pool to a radius of the office.
How many people have turned down jobs based purely on location, or relocated to an area with unaffordable housing to secure a role? Why do either of these things? Most of us have the equipment and internet connection to do our work from anywhere in the world. Remote working means that a business can be scalable as there is no longer an overhead of ever-increasing office space.
WFH generates potential for a different way to look at recruitment at the point when companies are ready to grow.
- Limitless potential - WFH creates additional opportunities when combined with flexible working. Just think of the number of qualified, skilled and talented individuals who are unavailable due to childcare commitments or looking after vulnerable relatives. Many of these people are not reaching their true potential and are currently in roles that provide little job satisfaction.
The WFH culture opens the office door to everyone!
- More productive business trips - A distributed work force will increase the need for business travel. It is vital to maintain human interaction with regular training, team bonding and team off-sites. The good news is that there should be a budget for these activities with the savings in office space.
There is also an opportunity to be more strategic with the locations of team meetings. Why not consider taking it in turns to have team meetings in the home towns (or countries) of the team members and involve that team member in the planning of evening activities?