Remote work can help companies’ talent search, employee well-being

Can’t find enough employees to fill your job openings? Take another look at your remote work policies.

By Marlene Satter | October 29, 2019 at 10:15 AM

A substantial 69.9 percent of people currently lacking jobs or “economically inactive” say that if they could work flexibly, they’d be interested in doing so. 

Companies that want to better their position in a tight job market, as well as those concerned with their employees’ well-being, ought to be looking at how much they rely on remote work.

That’s according to a new survey from The Center for Economics and Business Research, conducted in partnership with Citrix Systems, Inc., which finds that a range of benefits ensue from companies relying on technology to help them adopt a “work from anywhere” culture.

Related: 5 tips for managing remote work arrangements, from an expert

Not only can a remote work model be helpful to new employees or to workers recovering from illness, but it can expand access to job opportunities for potential workers with their own needs. According to the report, this is beneficial to employers because it boosts their profile in recruitment and labor retention, as well as increasing productivity gains across the country’s economy.

This is not nickel-and-dime stuff, either, either to the economy or to workers. A substantial 69.9 percent of people currently lacking jobs or “economically inactive”—such as people who had to give up working to care for children or elderly relatives, or boomers who are retired but would have preferred to stay active in the workforce at least a few hours a week—say that if they could work flexibly, they’d be interested in doing so. That could add up to $2.08 trillion in economic gains across the country, as well as a GDP boost of 10.2 percent.

For people already working, there’s even more interest, with 95 percent of knowledge workers saying they’d choose to work from home an average of 2.4 days per work week. Not only would that save them time—a cut of 5.8 billion hours in commuting alone each year—but it would benefit their bottom lines, with $44.4 billion in commuting costs eliminated annually.

A whopping 93 percent of all workers said that virtual/remote work would let them organize their time and tasks more efficiently, and 68 percent of part-timers, too, say they’d be more productive if they weren’t devoting time to commuting.

And then there’s the benefit of greater work-life balance, with 11.9 billion hours liberated that workers could use for personal and leisure activities. The resulting greater productivity, motivation and job satisfaction workers would experience would pay off for their employers in a happier, and more loyal, workforce.

A change in government policy, as well as in the thinking of employers who don’t currently use remote work, could streamline such a transformation; in addition, the adoption of technology that facilitates “digital workspaces” could to an extent offset its own expense thanks to lower overhead, the need for less desk/office space and lower printing costs. And that doesn’t even take into account reduced expenses from less absenteeism, less need to recruit/replace employees and a wider/better pool of candidates to choose from.