Employees who are working remotely from home are saving a lot, and much of these come from transportation costs. This is among the findings of a study published in Frontiers in Sociology in May 2021. It shows that transportation is one of the largest expenses of office-bound employees. It is also one of the most time-consuming activities related to work. Those who work remotely from home save both time and money, whether from public transportation or from private vehicles.
The costs involved are fare, fuel, toll fees, and insurance, as well as time, health, and environmental impact. Time saved can be spent with family or on themselves. This plus the elimination of fatigue from the commute contributes to better health.
A study by Flexjobs shows that in the U.S., the average time of a commute to work is 27.1 minutes or almost an hour for the round-trip each day. The Auto Insurance Center states that every year, commuters spend around 100 hours in their commute and 41 hours stuck in traffic.
Employees working at home also save on housing. With rents and housing prices increasing everywhere, they can move to areas far from work that have lower rent or home prices, as well as lower cost of living. They are no longer bound to living within a convenient distance to the office.
There are other savings related to remote work. An employee does not need to spend on work clothes and toiletries to comply with office-acceptable standards or dress codes. Food and even coffee at home are cheaper than outside.
A separate study confirms these findings. Among 2,100 workers they surveyed, all of whom worked remotely during the pandemic, 38 percent said they save at least $5,000 a year in this set-up while 20 percent said they save $10,000 a year.
Employees Now Prefer Remote Work
It is not surprising that among the respondents, 65 percent stated a desire to remain in remote work full-time even after the pandemic, while 33 percent stated that they prefer a hybrid of home-based and office-based work. A majority or 58 percent stated that they will look for a new job rather than return to office-based work.
Those who prefer remote work also liked having virtual meetings. Three-fourths liked the fact that they do not have to travel to the meeting. A majority or 58 percent liked being able to wear comfortable clothing, 55 percent liked the ability to mute, and 51 percent like flexible scheduling. A lesser number or 47 percent liked the ability to share screens, 42 percent find it to be more efficient, 42 percent stated that it less fewer office politics, 40 percent liked being able to record meetings, 35 percent said it makes scheduling easier, 30 percent liked that it can accommodate more people in every meeting, 29 percent liked seeing colleagues and clients in more natural settings, 27 percent said it was more productive, 12 percent said it was more engaging, and 12 percent liked being able to go on breakout rooms.
Benefits of Remote Work for Employers
Employers benefit from the increased productivity reported by 55 percent of employees working from home. Three in 10 of the surveyed employees stated that their ability to collaborate virtually had improved a little or a lot while working remotely. Employers also benefit from better employee retention with remote work options, as 72 percent of employers reported. Having to hire and train new people is costly and the value of employees who already master their job is high.
Global Workplace Analytics data shows that an average business can save about $11,000 per year for every employee who works at home. FlexJobs has employees working remotely and it has saved over $5 million from overhead costs, real estate costs, transportation subsidies, and continuity of operations. Altogether, U.S. employers are saving more than $30 billion a day from remote work. This benefits the economy immensely and can increase further if companies make remote work a long-term solution.
For certain activities like large in-person meetings and team building, the company can pay for an outdoor space such as a rooftop venue or even hire a boat for an open-air cruise. These will be fun and safe at the same time, and the experience will be enough incentive for employees to participate.
A Sustainable Future for Everyone
Having fewer commuters and, therefore, less transportation on the road positively impacts the environment and affects climate change as it reduces the carbon footprint. Even with only part-time remote work, 7.8 billion vehicle miles are saved each year, corresponding to $980 million in oil savings, and avoidance of the release of three million tons of greenhouse gases (GHG).
During the pandemic, with many people working from home, the world experienced significantly reduced pollution, congestion, and traffic. If remote work becomes the new normal, sustainability goals can be within easier reach.