Are Your Employees Asking for This New Work-​Life Balance Benefit?

BY Kathy Crosett
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Managers consider themselves forward thinking when they allow employees to work from home. News flash. Work from home has started to morph into the work-​from-​anywhere trend. Here’s how this trend is evolving.

Quality of Life

Employees are struggling to find affordable housing in key markets like Seattle, WA or Los Angeles. If they are lucky enough to purchase a home in a town with decent schools, they might be faced with a killer commute. Driving three hours a day to and from work does little for anyone’s quality of life. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, more employees are negotiating deals to move themselves and their jobs to smaller and more affordable cities like Eugene, OR and Boise, ID. In the still strong economy, employers are approving these WFA requests, because it’s an easy way to hold onto good employees.


These days, over 40% of employees work from home at least some of the time. Overall, U.S. Census Bureau data indicates that employees who work from home or WFA permanently make up 5.2% of the workforce. Managers might worry that having employees so far out of reach, and unable to come in for meetings, will depress productivity. That’s not true. In a study conducted by faculty members at the Harvard Business School and Northeastern University, researchers measured a 4.4% increase in work output once employees moved into a WFA situation.

Employee Retention

In addition to improving productivity, employers can use a WFA program to retain key employees. For example, employers can convince valuable older employees to stay on the team when they’re flexible about work location. Team members who want to transition to retirement over a three-​to-​five year period might also want to move while they are still employed. That’s because attractive retiree geographic regions often aren’t located near corporate offices. With a WFA program in place, your employees will work harder and you'll be able to postpone the need to recruit replacements.

To ensure success for your WFA program, establish a few guidelines. Agree, in advance, on specific work hours. Check in with your remote employees regularly, especially by video chat. You’ll want to have more than just voice calls, text messages and emails to go on when you’re trying to determine how well your employee is doing. And, make time to regularly review work quality and project progress.