At the Bamboo offices, winter is in full swing. And while some of our friends and customers on the other side of the equator are enjoying the sun, we’re in the middle of a lovely winter storm warning. So while some of us trekked into the office, many of our coworkers are working safely from their homes. (Presumably with a hot cup of cocoa and some cozy slippers.) Here are a few reasons we encourage employees to take advantage of telecommuting in the winter months:
Avoid Crummy Commutes
In the U.S. alone, more than 800 people die each year in winter weather-related crashes. We like to do everything we can to keep employees from joining that count. Plus, when winter weather impacts road, it often impacts schools. When school is canceled or delayed, this can leave your working parents in a bit of a pickle.
We encourage our employees to use their best judgment when a storm blows through. Sometimes this means they work the morning from home, leaving time for the snow plows to improve the roads. Other times it means they avoid the commute entirely and work from home for the whole day.
Keep Germs at Bay
October through March—when up to 20 percent of the U.S. population contracts the flu—can wipe out your workforce, especially if you require ill employees to come into work. When George in accounting starts sneezing in a meeting, he spreads his sickness to Suzanne, who leaves them on a doorknob, where they’re picked up by Jill who coughs into the open office space and . . . you get the picture.
Some argue this is a reason to mandate paid sick time, and research does show that fewer people get sick when they have no financial incentive to come into the office while ill. We actually don’t have sick time, and instead opt for a generous paid time off policy that provides employees with a bank to use for vacation, illness, or personal days. So, when employees are really sick, they take time off. But if they’re just down with a case of the sniffles, they know they can keep their PTO, reduce the chance of spreading the sickness, and work the day from the comfort of their homes.
To be perfectly honest, Bamboo’s employees always have the flexibility to request partial or full days of telecommuting—regardless of the season. This is partially because we appreciate the fact that life doesn’t always happen outside a 8 to 5 work schedule. Also, we know working from home occasionally can often help employees be more productive.
A change of scenery and the ability to remove yourself from meetings and distractions that can easily derail focus are just a couple ways working from home aides productivity. In fact, organizations that embrace telecommuting have seen productivity increase as high as 45 percent. Other benefits include increased job satisfaction, retention, and unscheduled absences.
So, to sum up, here are three keys to telecommuting:
1) A clearly defined position on telecommuting and process for getting telecommuting approved
2) Hiring employees who you trust to be honest with their time and discretionary when deciding when to take advantage of the flexibility and
3) Finding tech tools that help everyone communicate and stay on the same page, even when some coworkers aren’t physically in the office.
Applying these keys in your workplace can resolve many issues, seasonal and otherwise, and keep your employees healthy, safe, and productive.