The next time one of your employees asks to work from home, don’t roll your eyes. While there’s still a risk that your telecommuting staffers will sit around in their pyjamas all day, more and more companies are choosing to allow remote work as a way of boosting productivity.

That’s the finding of a survey conducted by Regus, an international business centre operator. “What we’ve seen over the last five years is that remote working is becoming much more acceptable, almost a standard business practice across companies,” explains Wayne Berger, Vice-President and Canada country manager for Regus.

Small businesses are turning to telecommuting in particularly large numbers. The survey asked decision-makers and managers if they’d seen a rise in remote workers at their company, and 81% of those in companies with a maximum of 49 employees answered in the affirmative.

For companies struggling to establish themselves in the market, the cost savings from remote working practices could be crucial. “A huge piece is reduction in overhead costs and capital investments,” Berger notes. “Part of the feedback that we heard was that [remote working] reduced real-estate costs, parking costs, and administrative costs.” It also allows existing firms to divest space for a quick injection of funds.

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Pushing staff out of their cubicles doesn’t mean you have to lower your performance expectations. Berger worked at Staples for a decade and watched the company transition some staff to a remote working setup. The time saving from eliminating the commute alone helped employees get more done during the day.

Travel-related issues were particularly high on respondents’ ranking of the annoyances that cost them the most time on the job:

Some of these issues are unavoidable, of course. You can’t simply cancel meetings and cut conference calls because they disrupt the stream of your workers’ consciousness. And having staff in the office during the conventional workday ensures that there’s someone to answer the phone when a client calls.

But losing the 9-to-5 may actually mean staff get more done, not less: 68% of respondents said that fixed hours are no longer suited to their duties. Rather than spending their dead time reading listicles and texting, your employees can finish tasks in their personal lives and get back to work when there’s something to work on.

Your employees are clamouring for better work-life balance, and allowing remote working is a good way to let them have it. Maybe it’s time to shut those office doors once and for all.

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Do you allow or encourage your employees to telecommute? What benefits and problems with remote working have you noticed? Let us know using the comments section below.

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