The Benefits of a Remote Workforce
By Tim Johnson
One of the big questions managers are facing in the upcoming months is whether to continue operations as a remote workforce. After nine years operating the California Rice Commission as a remote office, we see a number of clear and compelling benefits to this structure.
Uniformly, employees report an increase in productivity under a remote structure. The common distractions of the office are removed and there is more control over scheduling. Scores of people new to remote work are echoing exactly what our experience has been – you get more done in a day remote than 1.5-2 days in the office. As an employer, I see most of the staff starting the day earlier – when they normally would have started their commute.
Teams work better in the remote setting, as well. I see more desire and willingness to support co-workers in a remote setting than in the office. I believe it is largely because each employee has more control over their schedules and less interruptions. There is more time to support others and the co-worker social interaction is now focused on work product rather than office banter. As I have said any number of times, I love the people I work with. I like just like them more when I don’t have to see them every day!
More time, more control and increased flexibility to address life’s issues, like taking a parent to a doctor appointment or pick a kid up from school, is a huge boost to employee morale. Many would agree most people leave a job not for salary but do to job dissatisfaction. At the Commission, the switch to a remote office structure was the single biggest boost to employee satisfaction in my tenure.
For a purely fiscal perspective, a remote office is as they say a no brainer. When we made the shift nine years ago, we cut our office space in half. We plowed the savings into a location closer to the state capitol. We put in a good conference room, some cubicles and installed some art on the wall. The result was a better location, correctly sized that reflects our industry well. Many could go the opposite direction and move out of the urban core realizing huge savings every year in office overhead.
Going remote was one of the best management decisions of my career. One action greatly improved productivity and morale while enhancing teamwork. We also cut our office space in half. I wish all my decisions returned fourfold!