6 Questions to Ask When Allowing Employees to Work from Home

Allowing employees to work from home is a growing trend that shows little signs of stopping or slowing down.

The feasibility of remote work depends on the industry you operate in, of course, as some lend themselves to remote work easier than others. Still, it’s possible that your company might benefit greatly from letting at least some of your employees work from home.

How can you tell if working from home will really help your company, though? While the decision really depends on multiple factors, here are a few questions you can ask that may shed some light and help you make that decision:

Q: How Big Is the Commute?

Depending on where your office is located, your employees may spend a significant amount of time in their morning and evening commutes. A long commute can put someone in a bad mood, and the amount of gas your workers have to use can take a decent bite out of their paychecks as well.

If your office location is inconvenient for your employees, allowing them the option to work from home at least part of the time will improve morale by reducing commute time and gas expenses. It may lead to some employees putting in some extra time as well, since they’ll have extra time that they would otherwise have spent driving.

Q: How’s the Local Talent Pool?

Allowing employees to work from home or other remote locations opens you up to talent beyond what you can find locally. Sure, you might find some traditional employees in other areas who are willing to relocate, but moving is a major expense that many potential employees won’t be willing to take on.

If your new employees can work from home and connect to the office over the Internet, though, you’ll see a lot of talent vying for the job openings you put out there.

Q: How Productive Are Your Employees?

You might think that working from home would cause a reduction in productivity since workers are more likely to become distracted in comfortable environments. While it’s true that remote work sometimes takes more discipline, a study published in 2014 in the Quarterly Journal of Economics actually found a 13% increase in productivity among workers observed in the study when they switched from on-site employment to a work-from-home setup.

This increase came from a combination of spending more minutes every hour actively engaged in work and handling more tasks per hour due to having a more comfortable work environment.

Q: How Much Do You Spend on Supplies?

Office supplies, coffee, snacks and other replenishable supplies all cost money. The more people you have using these items up, the more often you’ll have to replenish them and the more you’ll spend throughout the year. If your employees work from home at least some of the time, however, there are fewer people using these supplies and the cost of maintaining them may drop significantly.

Q: How Much Do You Spend on Your Office Space?

As with your supplies, maintaining your office space is a major expense. If your office isn’t fully staffed because at least some of your workers work remotely, you don’t need as large of an office as you would if everyone was present in the office at the same time. This also gives you a lot more maneuvering room when looking for a new office space, since you can focus more on the price than the floor space.

Q: Do You Have Problems with Absenteeism?

Sick days and personal days are a reality of the business world. Having employees try to work when they’re sick can make things even worse, since they might spread their bugs around and next thing you know you’ve got several people out. Employees that work from home are less likely to call in sick, though, since they can complete at least part of their work for the day in relative comfort. This prevents a total shutdown of productivity due to illness and helps keep your other employees healthy to boot.

There are other considerations as well, of course. These questions are simply meant to serve as a starting point for your evaluation of remote work. If you decide to give remote work a chance, however, you might find even greater benefits than the ones presented here.