Businesses that allow employees to work remotely also reap the benefits of increased employee productivity, happiness and health, according to a new survey commissioned by LogMeIn. It found that many New Zealanders and Australians are opting to work remotely, and the concept of a standard eight-hour shift is on the decline.
The survey polled 1000 people across ANZ, the UK, France, Germany and India, and found that despite some level of guilt about being away from the office, remote working is making people happier and healthier.
More than half (57%) of New Zealand office workers are now able to work remotely if they choose to. Of those who do, 70% say it gives them more flexibility in their hours or breaks, 43% say it's easier to focus, 40% say it's easier to take care of family members, and 39% say they feel more productive when the work remotely.
New Zealand and Australian respondents also experience the benefits of improved happiness and mental health – 40% of Kiwis and 35% of Australians agree.
Remote working also slashes commute times – of the New Zealand respondents, 67% say cost and geographic distance are the two biggest factors that encourage employees to work remotely.
While some New Zealand workers do feel guilty about working remotely and battle with negative perceptions that it's less productive than being in the office (56%), they also feel more pressure to appear ‘more responsive' on email and other communication platforms. What's more, 22% also felt pressured to work more hours, which affects family and free time.
"We've uncovered that while over a third of workers find it easier to focus while working from home and report numerous benefits, they feel that there's a perception from the outset that they are slacking off,” comments LogMeIn VP Eduardo Cocozza.
“This means they end up sending more emails and being more responsive on other team chat platforms than they necessarily would do while in the office, just to prove they're working. This is clearly a problem. Businesses need to trust their employees to do their jobs and ensure they act on this opportunity to improve employee wellbeing and satisfaction.
Remote working does have some downsides - respondents also report loneliness/lack of camaraderie with office peers (40% of NZ workers), less communication (32%), and some face significant technology or connectivity issues (32%).
There is an optimum balance between remote working and working from the office when the option is available to them – and 82% of all polled office workers think remote working opportunities are the future of business.
While 76% of New Zealanders say they are most productive in an office, many feel they do their best work outside of it. 44% of Kiwis would ideally work from home, while 12% prefer a public space.
What's more, 7% of New Zealand respondents would be interested in a position that allows remote working all of the time. 54% of New Zealand office workers stated that their ideal working situation includes working part of the day/week in an office and part at home or on-the-go.
67% of NZ respondents would be more likely to take a job with a remote work option than if it was offered without the option. 22% of respondents would also be willing to take a job with lower pay if it allowed them to work remotely.
“For businesses looking to grow and succeed in the future, offering work from home opportunities will be vital to their success. Even allowing employees to work from home once a week can boost productivity as well as morale,” comments Cocozza.
Long gone are the days of traditional office work in the confines of an office setting. Office workers are looking to live more environmentally friendly lives, save money on their commute, and have more flexible, family friendly schedules which allow them to get more done and be more productive than if they had co-workers constantly distracting them in an office setting,” Cocozza concludes.