21 Benefits of Remote Work for Employees and Employers

Remote work has a number of benefits for employees and employers including increased productivity, access to better jobs and talent, and lower costs.

Abi Tyas Tunggal

23 Jul 2021 • 18 min read

21 Benefits of Remote Work for Employees and Employers

In this article

Remote work was already a global movement before COVID-19. Coronavirus simply accelerated the inevitable. And now that the genie is out of the bottle, there’s no going back. According to a recent poll from Gallup research, nearly 60% of U.S. employees who have been working from home during the coronavirus pandemic want to continue to do so, even after the pandemic ends.

Employees want the flexibility to work where and when they want, regardless of what industry they work in. This doesn’t necessarily mean working from home, it could also mean working from a coffee shop, co-working space, or beach. Remote work is attractive because it increases flexibility and autonomy for employees. According to Inc., 90% of workers who work remotely plan to do so for the rest of their careers.

Twitter and Square have said that staff can work remotely permanently. Most of Shopify’s employees will permanently work remotely. Office centricity is over”. Brian Armstrong wrote that Coinbase will be embracing a remote-first culture. And Mark Zuckerberg has said Facebook will “aggressively open up remote hiring” and expects half of his employees to be remote by 2030. Even prior to COVID, we saw Stripe announce its fifth engineering hub would be remote in 2019.

Employers have found that the benefits they receive from supporting remote workers are substantial. From decreased costs and lower environmental impacts to increased employee productivity and retention, it’s safe to say employers can embrace teleworking without sacrificing performance.

Let’s drill down into the specific benefits of remote work for employees and employers.

14 benefits of remote work for employees

Remote work offers a range of benefits for employees. You’ll likely be aware of many of these but you might be surprised on remote work’s impact on the economy and planet.

1. Better work-life balance

Woman with daughter
More workers are prioritizing work-life balance 

Many remote jobs also come with a flexible schedule that lets you start and end your day when you want, as long as your work is complete and your KPIs are met. It’s common knowledge that some people work best at night while others work best in the early hours of the morning. If you’re a night owl or early riser, you know how beneficial flexible work options are for your productivity.

Control over your schedule is also invaluable when life comes up. Whether it’s dropping kids off at school, doing the laundry, hitting the gym when it’s not as busy, or just taking a break when you need to, managing your personal life is a lot easier when you work from home.

That’s not to say it’s always easy, lines can be blurred between work and home life when you’re working from home. That’s why many remote companies focus on ensuring their employees keep a healthy work-life balance. It’s also a learned skill that leads to feeling happier and more productive while at work. You can learn more about the skills that are essential to remote work here.

Even if you do need to work specific hours, you can still do things that aren’t possible in a traditional physical office space: a quick vacuum during lunch, a refreshing power nap, or even just controlling the temperature of your office!

2. Control over your commute

Lisa's TED talk
The average one-way commute time in the U.S. is 27.1 minutes

The average one-way commute time in the U.S. is 27.1 minutes, this means the average person is spending nearly ten days a year getting to and from work. And that’s just the average. Extreme commuters face commute times of 90 minutes or more each way – over a month spent commuting each year.

Not only is commuting a time sink, but it’s also a source of increased stress and anxiety. According to Time, commuting is associated with increased blood sugar levels, higher cholesterol, greater depression risk, increased anxiety, lower happiness and life satisfaction, temporary blood pressure spikes, higher blood pressure over time, lower cardiovascular fitness, worse sleep, and back pain.

Even if you don’t want to work from home all the time, having the choice of ditching the commute when you want to has health benefits. The time you’ll save not commuting lets you focus on things outside of work like getting enough sleep, spending more time with friends and family, working out, or just cooking a healthy breakfast.

3. Work from where you want

Computer and desk overlooking valley
Remote work opens up travel opportunities

Fully remote workers who have no set job location are free to live and work from wherever they please. Pre-pandemic some remote workers with flexible work arrangements left home altogether and lived as digital nomads, traveling and working from new locals whenever they pleased.

Even if you’re bound to a specific time zone or country by the remote company you work for, remote work still means that you can move to cheaper cities or prioritize lifestyle rather than proximity to an office. People who have to move frequently, such as military spouses, can also benefit from having a remote job that can be done from anywhere (or in specific time zones).

This doesn’t mean you have to move around. It might just mean working from your favorite coffee shop around the corner from your house rather than an office, working while visiting family, or simply working outside rather than in a cubicle.

4. Access to more and better job opportunities

Himalayas job search page

This might just be the biggest benefit of working remotely. Remote workers have access to a broader range of job opportunities than workers who are bound by geographic location. If you like living rural or in a small town, you no longer need to move to a city to get access to incredible jobs.

Just look at the depth and breadth of remote roles available. As Dror Poleg wrote in No Floor, No Ceiling the internet gives more people an opportunity to win. Geographical constraints no longer protect the average from the best. If you’re an excellent engineer, writer, or really anything, you no longer have to move to find work. You can live where you want.

If you're not sure where to start, be sure to read our article on finding a remote job and getting hired.

5. Improved inclusivity, diversity, and exposure to different people

Man talking on video chat
GitLab's team spans across over 68 countries!

By removing the restriction on a specific locale that not everyone wants to or can afford to live in means remote companies often have more diverse and inclusive teams. Remote workers are exposed to people from different socioeconomic, geographic, and cultural backgrounds who have all different perspectives.

A great example of this is GitLab who have remote employees in over 68 countries! It’s impossible to have that diversity in a company constrained by geography.

It also means that you can work from a community where you feel the most comfortable and supported rather than where is close to the office. Remote work also gives people who may have a hard time getting a job at a traditional company more opportunities. This could be those with disabilities, caregivers who need a flexible schedule, or stay-at-home parents who want to balance career and family.

6. Lower cost of living

Woman at desk next to lake
Working remotely opens up options to live in lower cost-of-living areas

Remote work is a great way to avoid paying expensive rent or having a large mortgage. In the past, the highest paying jobs required living in a city with a high cost of living. With remote work, you can earn a great salary without having to live in a major metropolitan area which means you can save a lot of money. This could be put to financial independence and retiring early, holidays, taking care of your family, or just enjoying yourself.

Rent isn’t the only place you’ll save money. The average American commuters can spend as much as $5,000 per year on their daily commute - including the cost of gas, maintenance costs, public transport, etc. Not to mention the need for professional attire (no more separate wardrobes for work and life!), coffee and lunches bought out, and after-work drinks. These things can really add up and put substantial money back into your pocket.

7. Make more money

Woman at cafe working
Remote workers are making more money than non-remote workers

Research from PayScale that analyzed thousands of salaries determined that remote workers make 8.3% more than non-remote workers with the same job and 7.5% more in general.

Owl Labs’ State of Remote Work report also showed that 26% of remote workers reported earning more than $100,000 per year versus just 8% of on-site workers. This means as a remote employee you’re 2.2x more likely to earn a salary over $100,000 than an on-site worker!

Pair the higher salary with the lower cost of living and remote workers have a huge financial advantage over on-site employees.

8. Lower environmental impact and improved sustainability

Green mountains
Remote work reduces commuting miles by 70 to 140 billion each year

The coronavirus pandemic and the behavioral changes it brought on (less travel, lockdowns, and working from home) led to slowed deforestation rates, reduced air pollution and improved water quality across the globe.

Given 1 in 4 Americans or approximately 39 million people will be working remotely in 2021 we can expect that the impact of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with commuting will be continue to be suppressed. KPMG estimates that 13 to 27 million people will continue working from home in the coming years which would reduce commuting miles by 70 to 140 billion each year.

Air pollution is a very big deal. It has adverse effects on numerous health outcomes and general morality that are widely documented and it also has significant cognitive costs. By working from home, you’re doing your part to make the world a happier and healthier place!

9. Control over your office and environment

Home office setup
Work from anywhere and make your home office into whatever you want

Working from home means you’re able to create an environment that is designed for your needs and desires. Whether you want a more ergonomic chair, want music playing at a particular volume, or want to heat up or cool down the room, it’s all in your control. You can make your home office into whatever you want.

If you work best in dead silence you don’t need to worry about noisy coworkers and if you like noise you don’t need to worry about annoying your colleagues - win, win.

10. Improved productivity and performance

Man working on balcony
Open plan offices actually reduce productivity by at least 15%

While it might take a bit of getting used to, remote work has fewer interruptions, less noise, and more efficient meetings. You’ll find that you actually get more done when you work remotely. That’s because you can control your working situation more and don’t have to worry about co-workers stopping by to ask you a quick question, obligatory socializing when you grab a coffee, or offending someone by putting your headphones on to escape the open plan office.

Conventional wisdom is that open offices are a good way to promote collaboration and save costs for employers. But open plan offices are penny-wise and pound-foolish. There is overwhelming scientific consensus that open plan offices reduce productivity by at least 15%.

Given the lack of commute and open office, remote workers typically have more time and fewer distractions which leads to increased productivity. This allows remote workers to focus on what really matters, their job. That's not to say that remote collaboration isn't without its challenges.

11. Happier and healthier life

People sitting outside and working on computers
Remote workers tend to sleep better, feel healthier, and experience less stress

Working remotely gives employees the time and control over their environment they need to make healthy choices. With no commute, no lunch rush, and no long hours in the office away from family, remote workers are generally happier.

A study from the American Sociological Review shows that flexible remote workers tend to sleep better, feel healthier, and experience less stress. A report from the New York Times on the study showed that these positive effects cascaded down to the children of the employees too who also slept better and reported less stress when their parents had a flexible schedule. Not to mention the reduced risk of exposure to potentially sick coworkers.

In addition to personal health and wellbeing, coworker and manager relationships tend to be more positive with the distractions and politicking that comes with an in-office job.

12. More self-sufficiency and better writing

Man at desk writing
Remote work trains employees to be more self-sufficiency

Being a remote employee means you won’t necessarily have colleagues online at the same time or an IT team that can help you out if you have computer issues. So you’ll find yourself developing the skill of looking for the answers and being more proactive when you need help. Of course, you can still ask questions and get help via Slack but a lot of the time it’ll be faster to Google it or search your company’s Notion to find the answer yourself.

You’ll also end up as a better writer because of how much you’ll rely on writing. This means clearer and concise emails, as well as being sensitive to your colleagues who may operate on different time zones but need to pick up your work once you sign off.

13. Strong bonds with colleagues around the world

Quizbreaker homepage

One common misconception is that people who work remotely are lonely or left out. But the opposite is often true. There’s a huge range of communication tools for remote workers now. Technologies like Slack, QuizBreaker, and Notion make it easy to create strong bonds with colleagues even if you’re not in the same time zone.

If you’ve ever played video games, you know that you don’t need to be physically around someone to become friends with them. The best part is when you visit a remote colleague’s country, you’ll have someone to show you around!

You’ll also be able to make the most of the interactions you do have with colleagues. Rather than interrupting them while they’re working, you might instead write up a memo outlining what you’re planning to do and then call a meeting to discuss it once they’ve read it. This saves everyone time and ensures that the time you spend together isn’t wasting on context gathering.

14. Less office politics

Man working on computer
Remote work reduces idle chatting and increases productivity

Avoiding office politics is impossible. Even as a remote employee but because idle chatting and time hanging around the water cooler isn’t possible, many remote workers tend to skip the gossiping and posturing that happens in traditional work environments. And because remote teams rely heavily on effective communication, many remote workers are great communicators which reduces the risk of misunderstandings and therefore politicking.

7 benefits of remote work for employers

It’s safe to say remote work isn’t going anywhere. That’s why it’s important for corporate leaders to understand the benefits of remote work and why they need to invest in it.

If you're looking to hire remote talent, be sure to check out our guides on how to attract, hire, and onboard remote employees.

1. Increased employee productivity

Open plan office
Workers that skip the commute experience less day-to-day interruptions 

Many employers are still grappling with the question: “If I can’t see my employees working are they?”

The myth of remote workers being lazy is just that: a myth. In fact, telecommuters have shown time and time again to be more productive than employees who work from a physical office. You need to trust that your remote employees are working, because they are. A recent report from Airtasker based on the habits of 1,004 workers showed that while remote employees spent more time taking breaks throughout the workday, they also devote more time to work tasks.

Employees who can skip the long commute and open office plans are able to focus on their work and productivity increases because of it. According to a two-year study conducted by Stanford professor Nicholas Bloom in conjunction with C-Trip found that telecommuters had a productivity boost equivalent to a full day’s work every week compared to in-office colleagues.

This increased productivity can be attributed to a multitude of things such as happier, healthier, and more rested employees to less day-to-day interruptions which frees up employees for deep work and problem-solving.  Other employees likely benefited from their newfound flexibility and ability to decide what hours worked best for them, whether that be in the morning, middle of the day, or late at night.

‍Think about it. Employees are already bringing work home with them after hours, finishing their presentation over the weekend, or catching up on email at a cafe. You’re already trusting them to work remotely in these situations. Now imagine if you did so on a consistent basis.

COVID-19 has forced employers to test remote work and results have shown no dip in productivity despite the stress and uncertainty associated with a global pandemic. Imagine the potential of remote work in better conditions.

Other long-term studies conducted by Gallup Research, The University of Melbourne, Harvard Business School all support the findings of Nicholas Bloom and Stanford University and point to the same thing: remote employees are more productive.

To learn more about the benefits to employee productivity, watch Nicholas Bloom’s TED talk below.

Go Ahead, Tell Your Boss You Are Working From Home | Nicholas Bloom

2. Lower costs

Empty office
Remote companies can save on real estate costs, transit subsidies, and in-office perks

According to research-based consulting firm Global Workplace Analytics, employers who allow employees to work from home part-time save about $11,000 a year per employee. The savings would obviously be higher for completely remote employees.

This is because you can save on real estate costs, transit subsidies, in-office perks, and everything else that comes with having a physical location. As an extreme example, Google will likely save over a billion dollars this year due to employees working from home due to reduced costs related to promotions, travel, entertainment, and in-office perks offered to colleagues.

This is a major economic benefit for remote employers who will continue to benefit even after the global pandemic. It’s a simple equation, having fewer employees in the office reduces costs for businesses. With fewer people in the office, companies can condense their real estate footprint and have more efficient workspace usage.

Depending on the size of your business, supporting remote employees could equal significant savings without radically changing your company structure.

And while remote employees are generally paid more than their in-office counterparts, 36% of employees would choose the ability to telecommute over a pay raise.

3. Easier recruitment and access to larger talent pool

Zoom meeting
Remote work opens up a global talent pool to employers

Traditionally companies have relegated themselves to hiring people who live within a reasonable distance of one of their offices. If you were located in a major city, you were competing for top talent with companies who had resources to outbid, out-perk, or out-cool you. For businesses outside of major cities, finding employees with specific skillsets was difficult. Many simply settled for good enough.

Employers with remote work policies and a bias for async communication quite literally have the world at their at fingertips. They can hire a UX designer in Sydney, a developer in Bali, and a customer success manager in Toronto. In other words, they can hire the best person for the job, regardless of geography which can only be a good thing. Removing geographic obstacles means you’ll get the best applicants possible for each job and have a more diverse workplace. Chances are that the best person from the job doesn’t live within commuting distance of the office and might not even want to.

If you’re looking to hire remote talent, consider posting a job on Himalayas.

Supporting remote work also makes it easier to attract talent. Most employees have had a taste of remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the majority of the want to continue to work remote even after the pandemic is over.

EY has found that more than 50% of employees would quit their current job if not provided post-pandemic flexibility. This finding is supported by research from Valoir (40% of workers would prefer to work remotely full-time in the future), Zenefits (77% of job seekers consider flexible work arrangements when evaluating future job opportunities), Gallup Research(54% of U.S. workers would quit their current job for a remote one) and International Workplace Group (80% of U.S. workers would turn down a job that didn’t offer flexible working).

4. Increased employee satisfaction and better employee retention

Employee retention is one of the hardest problems to solve for businesses of all sizes. The longer an employee stays at a company the more valuable they become because of all the context they have about the business, the market, and competitors. But employee tenure is shrinking and for millenials it’s only about two years.

Allowing employees to become remote employees is one of the best ways to improve employee retention. Not only do you give them more work-life flexibility, you also give them a chance to prove their leadership abilities with expanded autonomy and responsibility. Which is exactly what your best employees want. It also means you won’t lose your best employees if they just want to leave the city your office is in.

Free from the office, remote employees have the chance to manage their won priorities and time, which gives them the opportunity to show they can complete projects without micromanagement. Employees when given the chance to work when, where, and how they want turn in more quality work, are more engaged, and stay at companies longer.

Think about the incentives you currently offer at your organization to retain talent. Do you have a cohesive benefits package? A great company culture? Employee health benefits? Quarterly bonuses for the best employees?

While these are great, the ability to work remotely as an incentive for employees is different. It shows them that you trust them to get their work done without having to manage them. It also shows that you care about their work-life balance and value them as a person.

Work-life flexibility is a major contributor to employee happiness and retention. Keep in mind that the average cost of onboarding a new employee is between 6 and 9 months’ salary. Retaining your employees is something you shouldn’t ignore. 73% of employees are currently open to a new career opportunity and one in three are actively looking for a new job.

Offering remote work is one of the most effective non-monetary ways to retain employees that also benefits your business. According to the Owl Labs’ State of Remote Work, companies who support remote work experience 25% lower turnover than those who don’t.

5. Better disaster preparedness

People working in an office
During a crisis, staff need to be able to operate from home at a moments notice

A permanent remote workforces means your business can continue running even if there is a natural disaster, local or national emergency, or even a global pandemic. Even if you don’t want all employees working remotely, allowing some employees to do so and formulating a remote work contingency plan in the event of a disaster is good practice.

During a crisis, staff need to be able to continue operating from home. And as many employers have found, those staff might actually be more productive when collaborating over Zoom and Slack rather than in an open plan office.

6. Better networked employees

Woman on computer
Allowing employees to seek out education and self-improvement keeps them engaged

Many professional development and networking opportunities are hard to juggle with a traditional 9 to 5 schedule. Some events happen during working hours which prevents employees from attending. Other employees have commitments outside of work that make it difficult to prioritize professional development, stunting their growth and therefore your business.

The flexibility that comes with remote work can eliminate or ease these conflicts. If you allow employees to work during their most productive hours and pursue professional development outside of those hours when they see fit, they’ll upskill constantly. And they’ll be able to attend networking events in their own locale which might lead to new connections, clients, or employees for your business.

Giving your employees the freedom to seek out education and self-improvement keeps employees engaged and ensures that they’re continually adding more value to your business.

7. Lower carbon footprint

Cycle route sign
Remote work eliminates tons of greenhouse gas emissions

Cutting your employees commute time eliminates tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year. If all employees in the U.S. who held remote-compatible jobs (about 50% of the workforce) and wanted to work remotely (about 79% of the workforce) did, greenhouse gases could be reduced by 54 million tons.

By supporting remote work you demonstrate to potential customers (and current and potential employees) that you care about the environment. A Nielsen survey showed that environmental concern positively influences consumer purchasing decisions. So not only is it good for the Earth, it’s good for your bottom line too.

Ready to embrace remote work?

If you’ve read this far you now understand the key benefits that remote working offers: increased flexibility, autonomy, and happiness for employees which in turn leads to increased productivity, better retention, and reduce costs for employers.

But there are also challenges associated with remote work that you should be aware of. Regardless of whether you’re looking looking for a remote job or to hire a remote employee Himalayas can help.

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