As we started discussing in March, for decades, tech giant IBM has led the way in letting employees work from home, and has bragged about the results: savings and increased productivity. Between 1995 and 2008, the company said it reduced its office space by 78 million square feet, and 58 million square feet of that space was sold for a gain of $1.9 billion.
Can work-from-home curb employee engagement?
As reported in CNNMoney recently, 40 percent of its nearly 400,000 employees worldwide did not have a traditional office. However, the company is changing its policy. The vast majority of workers who have been asked to return to the office have agreed to do so, IBM said. The company added that while some exceptions to the policy will be made, some employees will lose their jobs if they’re unwilling to work in offices.
IBM is not the only tech company to pull some of its employees back. Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, caused an uproar four years ago when she also changed the policy to bring work-at-home employees back to traditional office space.
As a workforce engagement expert, this move does not sound like it would drive trust in senior leadership and an increased emotional connection to a company, so I did some research. Interestingly, I found a wealth of studies, news articles, and white papers that offer an array of statistics about remote work and the benefits telecommuting offers to employers and workers:
1. Remote work increases worker productivity.
2. It drives employee efficiency.
3. It lowers stress and boosts morale.
4. It reduces employee turnover.
5. It decreases real estate cost and overhead.
6. It often leads to greater workforce engagement.
7. It positively impacts the environment.
8. It meets demands of young workers.
9. It's the future of work.
10. It's a global phenomenon.
I’m coming down on the side of data. We know that engaged workers provide better customer satisfaction, stay longer, make fewer mistakes, are great ambassadors for your brand, and refer their friends and family members to your company for jobs, products, and services. In addition, a whopping 77 percent of employees report greater productivity when working remotely, according to a new survey by ConnectSolutions. As a leader, I encourage you to enable your employees to do their job in their pyjamas. Sometimes the industry leaders and best-known brands don’t get it right. Look at the data and consider asking your employees what they want. You can never go wrong when you take your customer’s and employee’s considerations into account. Ask and you shall receive.