COVID-19 introduced a spectrum of changes to...well, everything. But especially the way we work.
The combination of digital connectivity and mandatory physical distancing around the world resulted in many businesses transitioning from brick-and-mortar to online operations, setting a new precedent for the future of work.
And as employees everywhere explore their new work from home (WFH) reality, many have found that it is actually a silver lining during an otherwise taxing time.
According to a survey by Gallup, 60 percent of respondents working from home would prefer to work remotely as much as possible even after restrictions are lifted, proving that employees crave the added freedom of WFH policies.
A flexible WFH policy can empower employees with the ability to choose – to find where and how they achieve maximum productivity and a better work-life balance, which ultimately improves job satisfaction.
That begs the question – what’s the secret sauce to the right WFH set up? And how can working from home result in a happier, more successful workforce?
Let’s take a look.
New Schedules, Renewed Productivity
Imagine all that goes into a traditional morning routine before work: Showering, dressing, packing a lunch, taking care of a few chores, and, eventually, commuting to the office. And that’s if you don’t have children. Add one or more kids to the mix and you double (or triple) the complexity.
If you’re lucky, this process takes an hour. But for most, it’s a significant part of their day. These time-consuming, pre-work rituals are mostly non-factors when employees work from home. With the lack of a morning (and evening) commute and routine, employees have more time for themselves, and more unhurried focus to give to their employer.
With more time often comes more motivation. While that may sound contradictory, this Harvard Business Review article that references a Stanford study found that employees who work from home are 13% more productive than their office-working counterparts. That’s because the traditional cumbersome practices that accompany an office environment, such as a tedious morning commute, are significantly minimized by working from home. Removing tedious tasks, and adding more free time to think, results in increased worker productivity.
If history has taught us anything about employee engagement and happiness, it’s this: to do one’s job well (and happily), an employee needs access to ALL the tools they require to do their job well...in the broadest possible sense. This naturally includes technology, training, clarity of role, and anything else that gets in the way of them being as successful as possible. They want to understand how their specific role fits into the whole, and they want to be proud of the organization for which they work.
The Tools for Success
An enormous contributing factor to ensuring optimal productivity? A remote workforce that is equipped with the right resources and tools to do their work well. The right technology facilitates remote collaboration, organizes workflows, and tracks performance, all of which help employees get work done efficiently and effectively.
No employee can be happy, productive, or engaged if they’re simply unable to do their work well for lack of the right tools. That requires having access to the full range of integrated technology they need to feel truly connected, across all that matters to them—from staying in touch with the broader organization to progress toward personal goals and real-time coaching.
The Power of Goodwill
Beyond social distancing, some expect that WFH will be here to stay for many companies – that is, if leaders can believe in their employees’ ability to remain diligent in the home environment. In fact, Sutherland has moved nearly 70% of our global operations to remote workforce models.
And here is more and more data to suggest that a WFH workforce can have a tangible, positive impact on a business long-term. In fact, happier employees = greater ROI.
An important factor in the benefits of WFH policies comes from the goodwill attained when employees feel trusted by their employers. In fact, employees who feel valued often want to invest back into their company. This sense of trust and faith in a company motivates employees to remain loyal and achieve stellar results, ultimately leading to a significant business impact.
Happiness Is Business-Critical
As workforces embrace a remote working future, the value of a happier employee experience is clear.
And yet managing a remote workforce comes with formidable challenges, which leaders need to plan for to ensure that employees aren’t just happier, but also have improved performance. The biggest obstacles? Ensuring collaboration, flexibility, and productivity across teams.
Ultimately, if WFH is here to stay, employers may need to adjust their very definition of employee engagement and experience, from one where individuals are simply engaged with their work and workplace, to a definition of broader life engagement.
It’s impossible to know where all this is going and what the future has in store. But starting to think more broadly about what makes employees the happiest and most productive in remote work makes a ton of sense.
That’s why WFH businesses must embrace technology designed to empower remote workers to remain agile and collaborate effectively (like that included in our Sutherland Anywhere solution). By creating the right balance between people, process, and technology, your business can generate high-performance employee outcomes and foster flexible, resilient services delivered dynamically anywhere in the world.
To learn more about how you can build a happy and successful remote workforce, get in touch with our experts today.