A smartphone, tablet, and pair of glasses on a desk.

Statistics indicate that remote worker productivity is much higher than many realize.

When considering whether to allow employees to work from home, business owners often wonder whether remote worker productivity will be sufficient to advance the company’s goals. With no supervisor physically present to ensure the work gets done, how can the company really be sure that its remote workers will be focused on the task at hand? Will the temptation be too great for them to end up just playing Xbox all day?

With telecommuting on the rise — Gallup recently estimated that 37 percent of American workers have now worked from home — some business leaders may be concerned about how to best address this growing trend while ensuring productivity doesn’t take a hit. Fortunately, statistical data indicates that remote workers can often be incredibly productive and satisfied at work, sometimes even more so than their in-office counterparts. Companies may be able to reap the benefits that work-from-home arrangements deliver for the four following reasons:

1. Fewer Interruptions Mean Greater Focus

According to a recent survey from TINYpulse, 91 percent of teleworkers report they are more productive when working remotely. With fewer interruptions throughout the workday, they can settle into a state of sustained concentration and work more effectively on their projects. Compare this with the traditional office setting where, according to The Washington Post, each office worker is interrupted or switches tasks every three minutes and then requires an additional 23 minutes to regain their focus. This de facto interruption culture can negatively affect the morale of office workers, who might mutter into their cups of coffee about how they can’t get a moment’s peace. This is not so with teleworkers, however, who may enjoy a greater ability to concentrate on their work and tend to make the most of it.

Additionally, a flexible working environment and increased autonomy help workers optimize their productivity. Teleworkers may be able to arrange their tasks in a way they find most effective, cycling through their to-do lists with ease. Although it is true that telecommuting newbies working from home must contend with distractions in their environment and learn the ropes of working well in that setting, by and large, they are able to stay on top of their work and meet deadlines.

2. Remote Workers Understand the Importance of Collaboration

Perhaps partly because they are not located in an office where collaboration opportunities are automatically woven into the workday, many employees who work from home understand the importance of proactive collaboration and accountability as active team members. Remote workers say that they regularly stay in touch with their supervisors, if on a somewhat less-frequent basis. A generous 34 percent of respondents to the TINYpulse survey report that they are in touch with their supervisor once a week, while 31 percent say that they check in once per day and 21 percent note that they check in multiple times per day. This actually lines up pretty well with how frequently most remote workers say they would prefer to be in touch, so it appears they may be satisfied with this arrangement.

Remote worker productivity is typically highest in cases when both the supervisor and employee have a clear, shared understanding of what needs to get done and fewer check-ins are needed to keep the work moving. Interestingly, 92 percent of teleworkers say they are happy with the way they receive feedback from their supervisors, so it seems both remote workers and their bosses are communicating effectively in this setting and likely use a variety of tools to do so, from video conferencing to email.

3. Remote Workers Feel More Valued at Work

When employees have the ability to work from home, they may be able to more comfortably balance their professional and personal obligations. For example, parents might find it easier to get their children to doctor’s appointments and caregivers may be better able to tend to older relatives. When employees experience greater independence and improved work-life balance, they typically report higher levels of employee satisfaction.

According to the TINYpulse survey, teleworkers say they are happier at work compared to their in-office colleagues. They frequently also feel more valued at work. Increased job satisfaction contributes to greater employee retention in the long run. Employers, who know well that it costs more to hire and train a new employee than it does to retain an existing one, should find this metric attractive when considering their ability to keep top talent and preserve their budget.

4. Inclement Weather Isn’t an Obstacle

Companies offering teleworking programs may be able to stay productive in the event of inclement weather, since nothing prevents employees from taking care of their work safely from home, even if a storm is raging outside or the public transit system is experiencing issues. This reduces liability for the company while simultaneously creating opportunities for productivity that simply did not exist before. Yes, teleworkers are going to have to stay home and actually work on those TPS reports instead of running outside to pelt their friends with snowballs during a major snowstorm. However, those same employees will likely appreciate not having to experience the frustration (not to mention wasted time) involved with a difficult or treacherous commute. Instead of bundling up and trudging out into the elements, they can simply make a cup of hot cocoa, sit down, and get to work.

Teleworking may be a new frontier for some companies, but it’s one that may offer significant promise in the form of greater productivity, increased job satisfaction, and more proactive communication among staff. Company decision-makers who have not yet explored the benefits of allowing their employees to work from home might find that it is not only worth their while, but also takes their business to a whole new level.

Find out how Vonage Business can work with your organization to boost company-wide productivity.

About Rose de Fremery

Rose de Fremery is a New York-based writer and technologist. She is the former Managing Editor of The Social Media Monthly, the world’s first and only print magazine devoted to the social media revolution. Rose currently blogs about business IT topics including VoIP, UC, CRM, business innovation, and telework for Ziff-Davis as well as HP’s Tektonika program, HP Innovation Journal, HP Channel, Intel, and Vonage’s content marketing program.

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Smiling woman in office.

Empowering employees leads to increased productivity.

So, you want to build a company culture that will help increase productivity throughout the office. It’s an admirable goal with the potential to transform your entire business. Whether you’re a cutting-edge cloud business or a standard mom-and-pop grocery chain (or anything in between), a strong culture can have a big effect on productivity, engagement, and other biz-positive outcomes.

But first, you have to get there. And whether your plan is a reaction to a drop in productivity or comes as a more proactive move, there’s work to be done. Here are a few things successful organizations do to boost productivity at the office:

They Empower Employees

At first, the word “empowerment” in a workplace setting sounds like more buzzword mumbo-jumbo. However, there’s value in the idea that empowerment increases productivity. It lets employees do more on the power of their own decisions, makes them feel their employers trust them enough to give them that authority, and lets them get to work — which is a huge factor behind, you know, staying productive. Can your sales reps cut deals without frantically flagging down their managers through a conference room window? Can your service reps calm down an angry patron without the added pressure of their supervisor’s watchful eyes? Employees work through small things like this every day, and they’ll greatly appreciate it if they don’t have to needlessly jump through hoops anymore.

They Make Criticism a Good Thing

To some degree, this falls under the general banner of positivity, but it’s big enough to mention on its own. While you won’t convince every employee that “You aren’t doing ____ right” is an opportunity to improve and is not a punishment or personal judgment, your rules and standard operating procedures should reflect the thought all the same. The goal here is to help employees do better without making them feel like they’re being excessively monitored or that their jobs are at stake. Instead, try the popular “compliment sandwich” strategy, where the manager puts every criticism between two compliments — it’ll taste better this way. If you frame criticism as less of a job review and more of a chance to help the business improve, most people will come around over time.

They Stay Positive

Make a note here, because positivity has an unquestionably beneficial effect on productivity. Like the example above, this one’s more about taking standard facts of workplace life and tweaking perceptions. Ask yourself the following questions to gauge your workplace’s positivity:

  • Do your managers get angry about mistakes, or do they make a serious attempt to listen and uncover the problems that might be causing them?
  • Is your office a dour place, or do the rules — and perks — encourage fun?
  • Do you actively discourage drama, behind-the-back talking, and other positivity-killing shenanigans from the top?

A positive workplace is one that values its employees — and valued employees work harder.

They Embrace Technology

Besides enabling employees to be more efficient, technology is also a boon when it comes to measuring key performance metrics. For example, a restaurant could increase productivity with something as simple as a wireless thermometer in the refrigerator. Suddenly, instead of a beleaguered employee having to record temperatures every hour, the computer does it for them. Additionally, giving employees the right technology to let them work from home when life happens — or even on the regular — is a great way to keep them productive, but on their terms. However, whatever your people do, look for ways to implement cloud technology into your plans.

The cloud can boost employee potential through its mobility-enhancing, collaboration-friendly capabilities. Employees value tools that let them approach work on their terms, making tools that offer consistent digital workspaces across a variety of platforms perfect for productivity-boosting initiatives. Something as simple as being able to edit a document on the train home or using email to respond to an inline product note on-the-go can make a big difference, and that’s before considering the larger capabilities consistent accessibility can bring.

They Don’t Mistake Efficiency for Productivity

We saved the biggest one for last: While productivity does mean how well an office gets things done, it’s often confused with efficiency. And while efficiency is important, it doesn’t sum up the broader scope of productivity. Instead, successful businesses look at how well a job gets done and which tools they can provide to enable it. For instance, it’s good when sales reps efficiently move customers through the purchase process, but it’s better when they provide an excellent experience to customers and keep them coming back. That’s true even if they take a little more time getting the job done.

The same goes for that manager who is a bit too soft on the rules when it comes to managing people but gets great results in every department she is assigned to. While you may not be able to turn a blind eye to every rule she lets her people bend (attendance is one common source of conflict here), attempting to understand what drives her decisions can lead to insights that transform your idea of management.

Cloud technology can be a major benefit on this front, too. Give that slow sales rep access to a full-bore cloud customer relationship management solution, and he could provide a better experience than ever without adding time per interaction. Your problem manager’s lax attendance enforcement, on the other hand, could be resolved (and indeed, turned into an asset) with tools that allow her to connect and communicate with staff anywhere they happen to be working.

As good as technology is at bolstering specific processes and enforcing established rules, it really shines when it’s helping you identify, promote, and encourage examples of good work that can’t easily be summed up in a spreadsheet. Once you understand that, you’ve captured the zeitgeist of productivity.

For more tips on increasing productivity, contact a Vonage Business consultant.

About Evan Wade

Evan Wade is an author and editor from Carmel, Indiana. As a veteran tech writer and lifelong tech enthusiast, he focuses his writing and research on communication, mobility and security. Alongside work with leading cloud technology providers and industry news sources, Evan has extensive sales and end-user marketing experience, giving him a unique view of the individual’s relationship with technology — and how organizations can realize huge benefits from it.

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With the “Work from Anywhere” feature, our hosted PBX technology keeps employees connected to full phone system functionality when they’re on the go– wherever they have an internet/ broadband connection.

Vonage Business phone service is delivered over the Internet, and IP phone connections are registered by an IP (Internet Protocol) address, rather than a physical phone jack in the wall. This means that the IP phone will register correctly regardless of which Internet connection it’s plugged into. Employees can take their IP phones home or on the road with them, and make and receive calls as if they were in the office.

With hosted PBX, our business VoIP system allows employees to take their phone home, transfer calls to their cell phone, or even set up their extension to ring multiple phones at the same time. Many employees prefer to access phone system features on their mobile phone via the Vonage® MobileConnect app for Android™ and iPhone® (now updated for iOS 10!).

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For employees who don’t want to take their desk phone with them, our Call Forwarding and Never Miss a Call features enhance the “Work from Anywhere” flexibility. From Vonage’s Online Portal, it’s easy to forward an extension to a mobile number.

Business calls to a company extension can be forwarded to a cellphone seamlessly, and still retain the phone system functionality. This means that our hosted PBX service transfers calls that can go to company voicemail, or another extension within the company.

Who Uses “Work from Anywhere”?

Many businesses can benefit from the “Work from Anywhere” feature. Real estate agencies, insurance agencies, and construction firms have expressed that this feature is particularly valuable to the way they do business. Employees can easily work from home or on the road, with no interruption in their communication with clients and colleagues.

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