Increase Employee Engagement With Telecommuting Options

Employer Insights

For most of employment history, we have operated under the assumption that if you wanted to build employee loyalty and team cohesion, everyone had to work in the same place. On the surface of it there is a certain logic to that notion. But recent research is suggesting that perhaps the opposite is true, that employees are actually more engaged when they spend some time out of the office.

The research firm Gallup published a report titled State of the American Workplace: Employee Engagement Insights for U.S. Business Leaders that measured how engaged employees were in various types of work environments. The goal of the report was to serve as a guide that managers and business owners could use to base workforce management decisions on empirical facts rather than dated assumptions.

Their research produced some surprising findings to say the least. Of the employees that were never allowed to work from home, 28 percent reported that they felt engaged, 20 percent reported that they were actively disengaged, and the remaining 52 percent reported that they were simply not engaged.

At the other end of the spectrum, of the workers that were allowed to work from home all of the time, 30 percent reported that they were engaged, 23 percent reported that they were actively disengaged, and 47 percent reported that they were simply not engaged. That is revealing, because while engagement went up, so did active disengagement. That suggest the benefits of 100 percent telecommuting are a double edged sword.

Where things really get interesting, however, is in the category of workers that were allowed to work from home 20 percent of the time. Of these workers, 35 percent reported that they were actively engaged (the highest rate in the study), 12 percent reported that they were actively disengaged (the lowest rated in the study) and 53 percent reported that they were not engaged. So, according to this research, employees that spend some but not all of their time out of the office are far more engaged than their office-bound counterparts.

To some degree this comes as no surprise at all. The importance of work-life balance is as important as ever, and today’s employees are increasingly discontent with the traditional M-F, nine-to-five way of doing things. But at the same time, the research shows that having no office at all is not necessarily ideal. A middle ground in which team members see each other face-to-face, but also have time to set their own schedules and work from outside a cubicle, seems to be the sweet spot.

We have written many times in the past about the benefits of flexible scheduling in recruiting and retention, and we hope this research will help you overcome any biases you have about telecommuting. Learn about more strategies to help you boost your workforce optimization efforts by working with the team at TekPartners.

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