5 Benefits of Shifting to a Virtual Office

Jessica Thiefels

17 August 2020

Earlier this year, many companies shifted to a partially or fully remote work model to ensure the safety of their employees amid a global pandemic. In fact, 16 million U.S. workers were remote as of March 27, 2020, and the number has only grown since.

While this began as a temporary shift to meet state and federal regulations, leaders are starting to see the long-term benefits of remote work, both for employee well-being and for the strength of the business as a whole. If you’re struggling to see the silver lining of your workplace’s “new normal,” consider the following benefits leaders are seeing in their own organizations. 

16 million U.S. workers were remote as of March 27, 2020, and the number has only grown since.

Featured Resource: Leadercast 2020—Ripple Effect 

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1. Employees have a better “Monday mood.”
For Pete Sosnowski, head of HR and co-founder of ResumeLab, an increase in productivity has spurred due to one major benefit of remote work: Employees aren’t getting stuck in hourlong traffic and they don’t have to deal with a lot of the stressors that normally come with the 6-8 a.m. hours.

“Remote employees don’t have to worry about getting up early, dressing presentably (and often uncomfortably) and commuting to the office just to be a desk jockey chained to their cube for the upcoming eight-plus hours,” he explains. “Instead, they can start work earlier and execute on their deliverables before regular employees would even get to make their morning coffee.”

Working from home gives valuable time off the clock back to employees. It provides them the option to minimize the amount of time needed to get ready or prepare for the day. Those who consider themselves morning people have a chance to spend their most productive hours working, while those who struggle with early alarms can trade a commute for sleep time. This makes every day of the week—even Monday—better, boosting employee morale companywide.

2. Working from home supports individual workflows.

Instead of being forced to follow workflows set out by the office—arrive at a certain time, be at a certain meeting room, eat in a certain place, etc.—employees are able to create their own workflows. Shayne Sherman, CEO of TechLoris, sees this as a huge benefit to working remotely.

“The biggest benefit of shifting to remote work is giving your employees the chance to build their workflows for maximum productivity,” he says. “There's a reason remote employees are happier and more productive. The key is giving them the tools to make it even better.”

In building a tech stack with all the necessary resources for effective communication and collaboration, employees can carry out their day-to-day responsibilities without having to conform to one way of operating. As a leader, you can empower employees to continue finding their ideal workflow and zone of productivity.

“The reality is that employees thrive with what works best for them,” explains Shayne. “For some that means different schedules, means of communication and, above all, ideas to improve the company as a whole… Remote workers who value independence simply perform their best when they're free to build how they like.”

3. Virtual meetings can save on time and travel, increasing productivity. 

At the beginning of the pandemic, many leaders were unsure how video conference calls were going to compare with regular face-to-face interactions. Michael Stahl, CMO of SERVPRO, candidly says that while he is “a people person and absolutely enjoys being face-to-face with others in meetings,” he’s found the shift to remote work makes everyone more efficient.

“As challenging as the past few months have been, I’m pretty amazed by what can be accomplished remotely,” he explains. “I’ve been involved with some projects that I think would have taken half a year to complete between in-person meetings, travel, etc. But with that removed, we’ve completed these projects in weeks, and I think there is something to be said for the efficiencies we gain with remote work.”

4. Remote work fosters equal opportunity. 

Managing a day’s workload against employee needs can be difficult for leaders in an organization. Ensuring that everyone feels supported can be overwhelming, but as Reuben Yonatan, founder and CEO of GetVoIP, shares: Going remote levels the playing field.

“As the CEO, the top benefit I have observed is greater opportunities to bring the best out of each employee,” says Reuben. “In the office, some employees might fade into the background because of their personalities.”

With no commuting and fewer office distractions, Reuben has been able to make more time for individual connections. “With remote work, I have more one-on-ones with each employee and that has helped break some of the employees out of their shells. It has been eye-opening to see the creativity, talent and drive that might have otherwise gone unnoticed.”

Virtual conversations provide a level of security and comfort to introverted employees who don’t like to speak up in groups. Without the confines of a traditional office, all employees can shine in their own way.

5. No office (or office supplies) means less money spent.

The costs of office space, electricity bills, plumbing and office supplies add up quickly. For Mattress-Review, real estate and food took up nearly 30 percent of their overall yearly budget—but that changed when shifting to remote employment during the pandemic. 

Trond Nyland, founder and CEO, noticed that once their company stopped going into the office, “bottom line immediately grew—and I realized how wasteful we'd been,” he says. Instead of creating an office environment where employees can have an effective work day, leaders are able to shift their mindset to providing resources that can be used from anywhere to get the job done, which usually means less money spent.

Even after giving employees money for home office needs and the like, Trond is seeing cost and waste savings. “I figure that even with the stipend, we're going to save 10 to 15 percent on our total costs in the long run,” he says.

The Benefits of Shifting to Remote

You can’t miss the benefits that both employees and companies are reaping from shifting to remote work. While it can be challenging to make this shift and ensure employees have everything they need to be productive, the end result is a more effective workforce, less money spent and more empowered employees. Don’t let the benefits of remote work get lost in your struggle to make it work—you just need to get the right pieces in place.

Jessica Thiefels

Jessica Thiefels is an entrepreneur and founder and CEO of Jessica Thiefels Consulting. She’s been writing for more than 10 years and has been featured in top publications like Forbes, Fast Company and Entrepreneur. She also writes for Business Insider, Virgin, Glassdoor and more. Follow her on Twitter @JThiefels and connect with her on LinkedIn.

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