Microsoft Survey Cites Remote Working Benefits for Both Employers and Employees

A 2010 survey by Microsoft found employees believe that less than 50 percent of their employers are supportive of their working from somewhere other than the office, such as from home.  Their perception is supported by the fact that well over half (59%) of them report their company has no formal work-at-home policy in place.  These findings are particularly disheartening given the survey’s additional conclusion that most companies do have the technological capability to enable remote working.  In fact, the data show that many companies already have everything in place―from laptops, virtual private networks (VPN), instant messaging, live meeting capabilities, remote desktop and more―that would allow employees to work from home or some other location both safely and efficiently.

Given that most 21st century companies are able to offer remote working as a viable option to their employees, the fact that they are unwilling to do so is all the more surprising.  Perhaps the survey’s findings with regard to the benefits of working from home or some other location―for both the employer and employee―will help more of today’s companies get onboard for what is certainly the wave of the future.

First and foremost in the minds of most employers when it comes to whether or not to allow their employees to work outside of the office are the questions of privacy and productivity.  According to the survey’s findings, employers need not worry so much on either front.  On the issue of privacy in particular, 90% of those surveyed agree that it is and will not be compromised when working from home.  As for productivity, the results are also in and they are unequivocal.  In fact, an overwhelming 89% of respondents say that as employees they are every bit as, if not more, productive when they are allowed to work from a location other than the office. 

Of course, given the flexibility to work from home or some other location, employees also realize a number of key benefits―many of which may translate into very real pluses for the employer as well, such as enhanced morale, loyalty and an energized workforce.  The survey found that the tangible benefits enjoyed by employees who are able and encouraged to take advantage of a remote working policy are considerable and include:  work/home balance (60%); save gas (55%); avoid traffic (47%); more productive (45%); and less distractions (44%), among many others.

One thing is for certain, working remotely means any one of us can get the job done whenever we need to, no matter where we might be or what we may be doing―and according to the survey, that’s just how it happens.  In fact, employees that work out of the office conduct business from a whole range of locations, some more unusual (We hope!) than others, including:  plane in flight (21%); bathroom (9%); family vacation (37%); coffee shop (27%); grocery store (10%); park (10%) and even funerals (1%)!

Okay, just because we can work anytime, anywhere―and I mean anywhere―maybe we can agree that some limitations are appropriate and even necessary.  I mean as much as all of us can and do appreciate employee dedication and the need to meet a deadline, really…a funeral?  When it comes to honoring our dead, work can wait, right?  Just asking…

Source:   2010 U.S. Remote Working Research Summary National Survey Findings, by Microsoft, Redmond, Wash., March 2010.

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