More and more companies are letting their employees work remotely, set their own hours, and determine their own vacation allowances. According to recent data, this not only is helpful to the employees, but can actually be a huge benefit to the companies as well.

In Harvard Business ReviewNathaniel Koloc, co-founder and CEO of ReWork, details the advantages of giving your staff greater freedom. For one thing, he writes, employees tend to be more productive when they have more flexibility at work. One study from Stanford University and Beijing University found that Chinese call-center workers who worked from home took fewer breaks and were more efficient. Another study from LRN showed that companies that allowed their employees more freedom were 10-20 times more likely to outperform companies with low freedom scores.

According to Koloc, companies that allow employees to work remotely at least three times per month were more likely to report revenue growth. A work-at-home policy also can lower a company's costs by requiring less office space.

Beyond the obvious moves of letting employees work remotely, there are other ways to increase their freedom. For instance, the Gerson Lehrman Group's New York headquarters doesn't have set work areas. Instead, employees can move around and work out of different "neighborhoods" in the office. The company also lets its engineers choose their own projects and engage with business operators directly without project managers. At Koloc's own company, ReWork, employees have four weeks of paid vacation each year, four weeks of remote work eligibility, and unlimited sick days.

If you're trying to increase the level of freedom at your own company, Koloc has three suggestions:

1. Crowdsource ideas from your employees. Ask them what they want and factor that into the company policy. Set up meetings with your employees to see what they want, whether it's the ability to work remotely, unlimited vacation, or the freedom to choose their own work. If your company is too large to set up meetings with every employee, send out a survey.

2. Research remote communication tools. Look into tools that can make it easier for employees to work remotely. Chat room platforms like Slack can facilitate open communication between employees who are scattered around a city.

3. Broadcast your "freedom" policies. Once you have policies in place, make sure that your employees and job candidates are aware of those policies. This will help you recruit and retain the best talent.

Published on: Nov 11, 2014