Do you want your team to be happier and more productive? Then stop making everyone work in an office.

A growing body of research suggests that remote work helps people be more productive -- upending the idea that teams must work together in person for the wheels to turn.

A FlexJobs survey of 3,100 professionals found that only seven percent reported they were most productive when working in the office. So if you answered "true," you were right. More than 50 percent said they accomplished more when working from home, while another eight percent cited better productivity at coffee shops, libraries, or co-working spaces.

It seems that many people prefer to work anywhere but the office.

What is going on here? You would think people would work harder while safely tucked away in a cubicle under watchful managerial eyes. But for many, remote work offers an opportunity to flourish and do their best work.

I know this firsthand. I lead an entirely distributed team at Aha!, a rapidly growing software company, and I can attest to the impressive amount of work we accomplish. Even across different time zones, we all work incredibly hard -- and yet, our team shares a closeness that you would expect to find only in a traditional office.

Here is why remote work is a boon for business. It offers teams more:

Focus

The typical office worker wards off distractions all day long. With an average 11 minutes between interruptions, it takes as long as 25 more minutes to return and refocus on the original task. And the popular open-office trend is no panacea to productivity.

Many employees resort to wearing noise-canceling headphones to drown out the endless chatter. Remote work makes it possible to focus away from the "fishbowl" office environment.

Autonomy

Remote teams have the flexibility to get things done in a setting that is most fruitful for their work style. And they do not need a manager clocking their every move. Scientists agree; another study shows a correlation between psychological and physical privacy and job performance.

Many of our team members convert a spare bedroom as a workspace, while others "desk hop." Where they work does not matter nearly as much as what they can accomplish.

Happiness

Some of the FlexWork survey respondents sought remote opportunities to escape from stressful office politics, endless meetings, and long commutes, which steal valuable time and impact productivity.

A work atmosphere of your choosing paves the way for more free time, more productivity, and more happiness. And remote employees do not miss out on vital communication, thanks to video meetings and chat applications that help them connect.

Loyalty

More than 80 percent of survey respondents said they would be more loyal to employers if flexibility were an option -- another separate study bears that out.

Call center employees who were given the option to telecommute started their workday earlier, worked longer hours, and took shorter breaks than their in-office counterparts. (They also made 13.5 percent more phone calls per day.)

Don't brush off remote work as a real possibility for your team. Given the chance, you may be surprised by how much more work is accomplished working remotely. Your team will become more productive and (yes) happier -- which can only benefit the bottom line.

Does your company have a remote work policy?

Published on: Sep 14, 2016