Why People Need to Work Remotely During Expected Traffic Nightmares
Whether it’s the Chinese president, the Pope, or a Martian visiting town, you know traffic is going to be a nightmare. And we in Seattle are about to see our routines significantly disrupted, as President Xi Jinping kicks off his weeklong trip in the United States in the Emerald City today.
Here’s a little background: Seattle has been ranked as the fifth worst city in the U.S. for traffic, according to a survey by Tom Tom Navigation. Now add in closed streets in the heart of Downtown Seattle and motorcades following the president, and the city is facing full-on Carmageddon.
And because of that, many government officials are encouraging residents to do whatever they can to stay off the roads during Mr. Xi’s visit — which means many employees might find themselves working from their couches this week.
The good news is that thanks to the technology that connects all of us — social networks, collaboration tools, email, and mobile devices — business owners and managers don’t have to worry about their workers slacking off just because they happen to be doing their jobs from home.
If you’re worried about whether you should let your staff work from home, consider the following:
Employees who work from home don’t get stuck in traffic
A study by INRIX reported that traffic congestion stole $124 billion from the U.S. economy in 2013.
If your employees are stuck on the highway because of a flat tire, terrible weather conditions, or Mr. Xi’s motorcade, they’re not able to work — it’s as simple as that. On the other hand, employees who work from home never get stuck in traffic. They can devote more time and energy toward their work.
Employees who work from home are happier
Many studies show that employees who work from home are happier than their office-bound peers. It’s not hard to figure out why.
Here’s one reason: according to WNYC, the average commute time for an American worker is 25 minutes. So right off the bat, those who can work from home are able to reclaim 50 minutes from their days. As an added benefit, businesses that employ remote workforces also don’t have to worry about traffic-induced grouchiness commandeering an otherwise pleasant office environment. Yes, sitting in mind-numbing traffic can drive down employee engagement even before you walk through the office doors.
Employees who work from home are more productive
A recent study from Stanford revealed that remote workers outperform those who work in office settings.
Employees who work from home are able to start their shifts on time every single day. And believe it or not, some are even willing to work more hours for the same job if they’re able to do so from home. Beyond that, remote workers don’t have to worry about getting interrupted by their colleagues (except digitally). Even further, employees who work from home get to do their jobs in an extremely comfortable environment, thereby reducing stress levels. All told, these factors contribute to a measurable uptick in productivity.
If you’re on the fence about enabling your employees to work remotely and your business is in the Seattle area, consider using Xi’s visit as an opportune time for a trial run (for the folks on the East Coast, you can do the same with Pope Francis’s visit). If it’s not in the cards right now, take a look at the calendar and figure out when the roads around you are likely to get clogged. Go out on a limb and schedule a company-wide work-from-home day. You may very well be surprised at just how much work gets done.