Last year, I almost moved to the Netherlands. Having an Erasmus Mundus degree makes me eligible to apply for an Orientation Year visa, which gives me a year to look for work there. Many of my classmates from different parts of the world have opted for the visa and now live in the Netherlands. I was almost about to follow suit, but fate had other plans – so the Netherlands was not meant to Bee (nudge, nudge, wink, wink).
Recently, the Netherlands has been in the news for codifying the right to work remotely in law. The Dutch parliament approved legislation making home working a legal right, and it will now go to the Senate for final approval. I wonder if I would be rejoicing now if I lived and worked in the Netherlands as I’d imagined. Maybe I’d be toasting my friends and colleagues with a glass of Jenever (a girl can dream).
Senna Maatoug, a member of the GroenLinks party and one of the bill’s co-authors, described the measure as an “important milestone” for workers. “We have found that hybrid working provided advantages for a very big part of the staff due to the Corona period. They have the chance to cut down on travel time and establish a better work-life balance”, she added.
A happy employee makes for a happy employer, according to co-author of the bill and member of the D66 party Steven van Weyenberg.
The Dutch lawmakers who introduced this bill have highlighted the same positive aspects of remote work that advocates of this mode of employment have talked about for several years, especially after the pandemic forced a significant part of the workforce to work from home. This law is a vindication for these voices and will hopefully act as a precedent or a reference point for other legislators worldwide.
Needless to say, effective remote work formats require robust infrastructure, smooth management systems, seamless communication and constant innovation. But so does working from the office!
And yet, many of the discussions you might find on the topic are overwhelmingly critical. There are plenty of articles and reports on how remote work harms employee well-being and productivity, and corporate honchos are frequently found groaning about the downsides of remote work.
Why did a country like the Netherlands take such a step then?
Why did France make provisions allowing workers to request teleworking options?
Why did Germany mull a law allowing employees to demand the right to work from home?
Why is Ireland considering a Right to Request Remote Work Bill?
And why did Portugal implement legislation banning employers from connecting with employees after working hours and direct them to pay for home working expenses?
To find an answer to these questions, I went looking for statements and perspectives shared by big businesses on how remote work helps them reap more profits. Here’s what I found:
Remote work lowers operating costs
Since fewer people are physically working at the office, using office supplies, computers, and work desks, remote work does cut operating costs.
In particular, remote work avoids recurring expenses like rent, office supplies, utilities, insurance, maintenance, and repair, which can quickly mount up.
According to information on workplace costs and benefits compiled by Global Workplace Analytics, IBM saved $50 million in real estate expenditures by permitting remote work. The corporation dramatically cut its lease costs and eliminated more than 58 million square feet of office space.
As real estate prices soar globally, I don’t see why any business with laptop jobs, big or small, would want to rent office space unless they HAD to.
Remote work allows you to hire talent from anywhere
When restricted to typical employment situations, businesses primarily hire exclusively within the city or state of their headquarters. Most people won’t want to go very far to begin a new job; therefore, the possibilities for hiring the ideal candidate are constrained.
However, businesses that allow remote work have access to a wider candidate pool that is location agnostic. Geography doesn’t stand in the way of outstanding capability, increasing the likelihood of discovering the ideal match.
Here at Bee, we all live in different parts of the country – but we all work together just fine!
Remote work improves employee retention rates
As any business owner will tell you, hiring new employees is costly. One of the benefits that businesses may use to increase employee retention is flexible work. According to Crain’s Future of Work survey, 78% of the respondents cited flexible schedules and telecommuting as the most effective nonmonetary ways to retain employees. The flexibility that remote work provides makes people happier and more productive. I’m sure that if I weren’t doing a remote job by now, the commute would have made me sick, and I would have applied for that Dutch visa out of frustration!
Remote isn’t the compromise many tech moguls hope you will mistake it for. Instead, it’s a format that can accelerate the growth of your business. I don’t want to sound overzealous, but we could be on the brink of a revolution.
Over the next few years, we can expect many countries to go the Dutch way (Ireland, for example), as more and more people wake up to the simple maxim – work doesn’t have to suck! It doesn’t have to consume your life in every which way, leaving measly leftovers for your family, friends, hobbies and dreams to grasp at as you huff and puff your way through yet another traffic jam or crowded subway ride, only to be late for a meeting that could have just been an email – to the managers who set up such meetings- the jig’s up!
As Karina says, work ought to be what you do in the spaces life doesn’t occupy.
And that’s how it is at Bee — where we’ve been patiently waiting for the world to catch up to Remote since 2012.
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