I'm the founder of FutureWork IQ where I spend my time assisting businesses to improve their climate literacy so as to understand the projected impacts from the expanding climate crisis and how to adapt their workplaces in the face of these impacts.

The Chinese travel company Ctrip were looking at ways to bring their overheads down. Because of technology they saw a way to save on furniture and office space by allowing their call centre staff to work from home. As they were not sure whether this was even possible, they decided on a 9-month experiment. They gave their staff the opportunity to volunteer to work from home for nine months. Half the volunteers were allowed to telecommute; the rest remained in the office as a control group. They then over the nine month period collected data from both groups.

Were they able to save on furniture and office space? Yes! And the savings were substantial. For each employee that worked from home, they saved a staggering $1,900.00 over the period! They initially thought that the savings would offset the loss of productivity they would have from the work from home group. However, what they found truly surprised them.

The work from home group, were much happier and reported more job satisfaction and were more productive! In fact the stats were amazing. They found that those working from home completed 13.5% more calls than the staff in the office did—meaning that they got almost an extra workday a week out of them!

When asked why there was such a productivity hike Professor Nicholas Bloom, who was involved in the experiment, made this observation:

“One-third of the productivity increase, we think, was due to having a quieter environment, which makes it easier to process calls. At home people don’t experience what we call the “cake in the break room” effect. Offices are actually incredibly distracting places. The other two-thirds can be attributed to the fact that the people at home worked more hours. They started earlier, took shorter breaks, and worked until the end of the day. They had no commute. They didn’t run errands at lunch. Sick days for employees working from home plummeted.” (Source: Harvard Business Review – To Raise Productivity Let More Employees Work From Home)

Interesting in recent research published by TINYpulse entitled “What Leaders Need To Know About Remote Workers” they found the same.

Should you seriously be looking at this as an option for your team? If you are wanting to lower your overheads and have a happier team, yes!

However, as with everything digital, migrating from a traditional office bound work environment to a remote one requires that this be approached strategically. A mobile workforce is something you must design and prepare for and there is a lot to consider and have in place. This is why one of the workshops we present is entitled “Designing a Mobile Workforce” to help you develop a solid strategy to successfully become a truly digital mobile business.

There is no question that technology is allowing us to break free from traditional ways of doing things, making us happier, healthier and more productive.

Building a business in the 21st Century will look more like this. Hope you enjoy these insights.