By James Grieco
This is a sponsored post by MightyCall.com, a virtual phone system provider that makes telecommuting easy.
The American workplace is a relic of an outdated world. Most everything about it, from the schedule to dress codes and hiring practices, can be traced back to the country’s post-WWII economy or even earlier as American industrialism was expanding. For 2019 and the new realities of American work and life, fundamental changes are necessary. Much of that change will stem from the idea of the office as the center of work. Research has long shown that sedentary office jobs lead to worse long-term health, and the evolution of many office layouts from cubicles to open layouts has only increased health risks.
No matter what modern iterations of offices are unveiled—from those heavy on perks like ping pong tables and outdoor workspace to offices designed to feel like a place where you’d hang out with friends—the fundamental idea of centering work in one single place has never been in the American workers’ best interest. Millennials, who are taking over as the largest share of people in the workforce, are spurring these changes, but many find themselves working longer hours and taking fewer vacations in an effort to get ahead in the rat race.
Progressive countries like New Zealand and Sweden have tested things like a 4-day workweek and a 6-hour workday, and in recent years, each one of these experiments has been successful. Now, like these experiments, we aren’t trying to remove offices from the public sphere entirely, but rather to show that the way work is organized could, and should, be improved.
Whether that is telecommuting permanently, splitting time between home and the office or simply going out for things like assignments and meetings, there are ways to avoid feeling confined to an office and a plethora of reasons why your business should explore them.
1. Telecommuting Is Easier than Ever
With each passing year it gets easier and easier for employees to either work from home or stay connected to their work no matter where they are, from making a sales pitch on a golf course to meeting clients for coffee or going to their home or office to hammer out final details and sign a contract.
Almost every business, big or small, already uses at least one customer-relationship management (CRM) tool, making it easy for staff to stay connected and organized regardless of location. The CRM market, already worth tens of billions of dollars, is the fastest growing software market in the world. What that means is that no matter what you want or need a CRM for, whether keeping employees in the loop or being able to check up quickly and conveniently with them, that exact tool probably already exists, or will soon.
Even better, the CRM market is as modern as it gets. Over the past five years most CRM software has evolved from on premise technology to cloud-based technology, meaning the office no longer even needs to be the heart of a company.
2. It’s Healthier for Employees
Both commuting and sitting in an office (likely in a subpar chair) all day are bad for your mental and physical health. Commutes are especially damaging to people’s mental well-being, with a direct correlation between longer commutes and rates of depression.
The office itself takes a toll on people’s health as well, as it is designed to funnel workers toward their tasks, despite very few jobs actually having 8 hours of quality work to be done every day year-round. That leads to both the increase in chances of developing copious diseases and health problems, ranging from obesity to diabetes to heart disease, and boredom, which saps workers’ resolution and energy.
Work-life balance may seem impossible, and the exact balancing point differs for everyone, but creating a schedule away from the office for at least part of the week or workday is a surefire way to inch closing to improving each employee’s work-life standards. That means happier, healthier workers who in turn do more work for your business.
3. Telecommuting Improves Business Communication
It’s counterintuitive that so many people working in offices spend so little of their time working or knowing what they have to do. With employees working from home or constantly coming and going on business, both managers and employees have a stronger need to be on the same page at all times. That leads to more focused work schedules and better laid-out work plans.
Instead of people waiting for the workday to end so they can go home, workers know exactly what is expected of them and when they need to do and finish projects. That kind of clarity is especially valuable for small businesses where how fast you can get things done for your customers matters more than giant companies that tend to dictate time to the market itself.
4. It’s Easier to Hire the Best People for the Job
Small businesses have their own local orbit, and while they may thrive in that ecosystem, most get anonymous fast once you get outside of their zip code. That means when you’re looking to hire new staff, your applicant pool is restricted.
If you’re willing to hire someone who won’t be based in your office, it doesn’t matter where they’re from as long as they have the skills to help your company. You can even afford to be more selective about who you hire because the number of potential applicants is substantially bigger than if you needed someone to sit 10 feet away from you for 40 hours a week. Skype and FaceTime interviews are nearly as common as in-person interviews nowadays.
5. Telecommuting Will Make Your Company Better
Small businesses already have an edge over big businesses, because small business employees typically report greater levels of happiness and fun. By doubling down on reasons why people who work for small businesses are happier—greater freedom and control, better communication—your company only stands to benefit.
By allowing people to telecommute or have more freedom to come and go as they choose, you aren’t loosening the grip on your employees’ reins. You don’t need to physically monitor them to see the results of their work.
Decentralizing your company’s work from a single physical location or simply downplaying the role your office has will lead to happier workers who are more loyal, less likely to quit and generally more productive. Like work-life balance, the extent of which you do this will vary for every company, but especially for small businesses, the rewards far outweigh the risks.