The classic story of a business that is grown from a garage into a huge conglomerate is not an apocryphal one. Jeff Bezos, for example, built Amazon from a tiny bookseller into a multi-billion dollar business from the comfort of a small home in Bellevue, Washington. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak put together the first Apple computers in Jobs’ parents’ garage.
While these humble beginnings have grown into massive offices with thousands of employees, today, large companies are looking at ways to give their workers the same freedom and flexibility that innovators like Jobs and Bezos had at the beginning of their careers. Allowing them to work from home.
If your company, by necessity, is mostly delegating from out of your living room, you might feel like part of your growth should be the establishment of a brick-and-mortar office. In a traditional view, that’s just what you do when your company reaches a certain size threshold.
However, you might want to amend that concept and use the money you potentially would spend on real estate to make your business more competitive through improvements in product design, better marketing, or just improved financial stability.
It turns out that the incentives to give employees the flexibility of working from home are great, and the negatives (depending on your industry of course) turn out not to be not particularly persuasive.
Companies are trying to have more remote workers
Around 30% of businesses believe that telecommuting is going to be more pervasive across all industries in the future and it’s not hard to see why. In fact, many businesses are looking for ways to downsize their real estate commitments in favor of more employees working from home.
Office space is not only about real estate investment either. Expenses include computers and phones for workers, utilities, housekeeping, and other office amenities like water and coffee.
An article from CNN estimates that companies save over $10k annually for every employee that works from home just half the time, rather than at a dedicated office. Aetna Insurance already has a workforce that is nearly 50% remote which is saving the company an estimated $70m per year.
As a small company with no current real estate investment, you would already be ahead of the curve.
Potential employees prefer telecommuting
Statistics on working from home show that flexibility is very desirable for employees. Nearly all workers say that working from would make a huge difference in improving their quality of life. And, according to one survey, almost three-quarters of the workforce would consider leaving their job for another one that offered the possibility of working from home.
Not only does it allow people to build a better work-life balance and take care of their children more effectively, but it is also a financial boon. Workers can enjoy an estimated $4,000 in annual savings thanks to avoiding expenses like commuting costs and dry cleaning bills.
Of those already working remotely, 90% are happy where they are, saying that they would like to continue working that way for the rest of their career.
Making work from home work for you
In many industries, creating a flexible work from home schedule is a win-win situation. Everyone saves money and everyone avoids the hassle of getting to work or maintaining an office environment.
The largest question tends to be about productivity. Does productivity suffer due to home distractions? Metrics on working from home say that they do not. Actually, most of those that transitioned from working in a traditional office say that they are now much more productive because they are less distracted.
While a dedicated office might seem to be a place where more focused work can get done, day-to-day interactions, unnecessary meetings, and office functions may end up taking up more work time than one would think.
That said, it is crucial to find ways to work from home that allow you the focus you need to get projects done.
Some tips on how best to work from home include:
- Keep a regular schedule: While flexibility is part of the ethos of working from home, it’s important even in a small business to maintain daily and weekly work hours that allow you to maintain a rhythm.
- Take mandated breaks: While you might feel that working continuously will help you get more done, studies show that this is not the case. In fact, regular breaks are useful to allow your mind to get back to work more efficiently.
- Avoid distractions: Social media and non-work calls and texts can keep you from putting your mind on your work and make getting something done more time-consuming. There are apps you can use to block social media during your work hours and it is possible to shut down notifications.
- Stay social: over 20% of remote workers site loneliness as the biggest downside of working from home. Make sure to make plans with friends and family and even co-workers, if feasible, so that your company has a level of cohesion.
- Find a place you can work: Create a dedicated place at home that is only for work. Try not to use your couch, your bed, or your dining room table. If life at home is too distracting, find another place like a coffee shop, library, or virtual office, to focus on the tasks at hand.
If your company can be built entirely from remote workers, you may have a distinct advantage over those that have set up a dedicated shop.
Indeed, you also may be able to recruit higher-level talent, because you are not restricted to a specific location. And while face-to-face meetings might be useful, you can still have those once in a while for a fraction of the cost of maintaining an office block.
And if environmental friendliness is something you prize, statistics show that working from home saves massive amounts of energy, including sparing the earth from the greenhouse gasses that you would use in your daily commute.
Ultimately, the numbers on working from home point to the idea that, while you may want your company to grow, you may never want to grow out of your garage.
Author bio: Sarah Archer is a Content and PR manager at Your Best Digs. She’s passionate about evaluating everyday home products to help customers save time and money. When she’s not putting a product’s promise to the test, you’ll find her hiking a local trail or collecting stamps in her passport.