DISTRIBUTED: Businesses Reap the Benefits of a Remote Workforce


Companies across the globe, from mammoth corporations to small businesses to emerging start-ups, are embracing the distributed format. In fact, Fortune Magazine reports that 85 of the companies that landed on its 2012 “100 Best Companies to Work For” list allow employees to telecommute or work at home at least 20 percent of the time.

Why are droves of businesses flocking to the distributed trend? Because companies that adopt remote work benefit from substantial cost savings, better talent acquisition, heightened employee productivity and extended marketing reach.

“The virtualization of business is like outsourcing on steroids: not only is it highly efficient, but it is probably the most advanced and evolved economic system yet devised,” writes John Meyer, CEO of Arise Virtual Solutions. “It’s arrived, it’s booming, and we need more of it.”

Keep reading to learn more about the boundless benefits distributed companies enjoy.

Benefit #1: Major Cost Savings

Because distributed businesses don’t have to pay for a physical office space (and the utilities, equipment, housekeeping and supplies that go along with it), these companies enjoy ample cost savings. In fact, distributed companies often save more than 30 percent on operating costs as compared with traditional brick-and-mortar businesses.

Just ask the leaders of insurance giant Aetna. Nearly half of the company’s 35,000 employees work from home all or part of the time. This has allowed the company to eliminate 2.7 million square feet of office space, saving Aetna $78 million a year on real estate costs, utilities, housekeeping, mail service and document shredding.

And distributed companies aren’t just saving on real estate and operating costs. According to the International Teleworking Advocacy Group, after implementing teleworking programs, small businesses report saving an average of $85,000 to $93,000 per year, thanks to lower turnover, reduced operating costs and increased productivity.

Benefit #2: Access to a Vast Pool of Talent

If your business isn’t tethered to one spot, you can hire the best and brightest employees from all over the world.

“By hiring remote workers, today’s businesses are harnessing the speed and flexibility they need to gain a competitive edge and prosper,” writes oDesk CEO Gary Swart in a FOXBusiness article. “When companies hire within commuting distance of their physical locations, as is the traditional preference, the practice becomes limiting when the right talent, at the right price, isn’t available nearby.”

Not only do distributed businesses gain greater access to talent—these companies are more likely to retain their highly skilled employees. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95 percent of employers say that telework has a major positive impact on employee retention, and nearly half of companies that allow remote work say it has reduced attrition.

Benefit #3: Extended Reach

When your employees are scattered across the country and even the world, this extends your reach into many more local markets as compared to brick-and-mortar businesses tied to one geographic area. As a result, distributed businesses gain an edge when it comes to marketing, advertising and research efforts.

“Having people employed, and a presence across the globe, gives a diversification to the well you can tap into to solve problems as well as expose your product or service to more markets giving you more research to work from,” writes reporter Ronan Steyn in a Ventureburn article.

Widely dispersed teams also gain access to clients who live in dramatically different time zones and speak other languages. “You’ll automatically get better coverage of multiple time zones and languages when your team is more distributed,” points out Toni Schneider, CEO of Automattic and partner at True Ventures.

Benefit #4: More Productive Employees

More than half of business decision makers say telecommuting leads to more productive employees, according to a survey issued by Staples Advantage. Not only are distributed employees able to focus more intensely without the frequent distractions that occur in a traditional office, but they also tend to work longer hours than their brick-and-mortar counterparts. According to Gallup, employees who work at home log an average of four more hours per week than those who work on-site.

“Remote workers—without a commute or office distractions to factor in—can spend more time per day focusing on work alone,” emphasizes Swart. “No wonder half of the employers oDesk surveyed have grown their businesses’ revenue, size, or service offerings by using remote workers.”

Corporate giants Best Buy, Dow Chemical and American Express report that their teleworkers are 40 percent more productive than office workers, according to Telework Research Network.

A Powerful Business Model

The benefits of running a remote business are undeniable and unprecedented. Considering the extraordinary advantages, it’s no wonder an increasing number of businesses are tapping into the power of distributed teams.

But distributed business owners aren’t the only ones reaping the benefits. Tune into our next blog to learn about the priceless advantages remote employees enjoy.

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