The Benefits of Remote Work, According to Researchers

Tapping into a remote workforce is more convenient than ever—which is why using remote workers continues to be one today’s most significant business trends. Research now indicates that remote work offers impressive benefits for both individuals and organizations.

Saving the planet.

Let’s start with the biggest picture of all: Planet Earth. Workers who don’t commute contribute to measurable environmental savings. A study by the Carbon Trust suggests that an employee who works two days a week from home can save up to 390 kilograms (859 pounds) of carbon emissions annually. That figure includes the reduced emissions from commuting as well as energy used for heating and office space.

Fulltime remote workers create environmental impact with real reach; the reach grows exponentially when you consider the impact from fewer trips to day care, dry cleaners and lunches. Employers can leverage their astute environmental practices as a selling point for clients and customers. The same can be said for attracting and keeping employees who are committed to green practices – using remote workers means you can pull from a bigger pool, so you can compete on different levels for the best talent.

Living healthier lives.

Along with helping make the planet healthier, remote workers themselves are in better shape. Skipping the daily commute, for example, simply makes life better. In their book, Remote, the founders of Basecamp, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier, suggest that employees who don’t commute experience less stress, pain, obesity and depression. They’re happier, healthier and more productive.

They also call in sick less frequently — remote workers are not around other people to catch that cold that’s spreading around the office. They report a better life-health balance overall, with more exercise, sleep and time with family. Savvy employers understand the benefits of healthier lifestyles and how they impact both morale and the bottom line.


Focusing more on work.

Speaking of which: because they usually work when they want to, remote workers work both more and more effectively. They can focus on a task without the usual office interruptions. “Meaningful work, creative work, thoughtful work, important work—this type of effort takes stretches of uninterrupted time to get into the zone. But in the modern office such long stretches just can’t be found. Instead, it’s just one interruption after another,” write Fried and Henemeir.

Increasing productivity.

Stanford Professor Nicholas Bloom and grad student James Liang found proof of productivity for remote workers in a study of the call center for the Chinese travel website Ctrip.

Ctrip employees who worked at home saved the business $1,900 US in furniture and office costs. In addition, they answered 13.5% more calls than the control group of employees, who worked in the office. And, they were happier and less likely to quit.

With numbers to back up intuitive good sense, it’s clear that enlisting remote workers will continue to shape business in the future. No matter what the current structure of your business may be, odds are good that incorporating remote workers can help sharpen your strategy and bottom line.