The pandemic drastically changed the world in all aspects. Over the past few years, we’ve witnessed huge changes to the work arrangements, one of which is the rise of a hybrid working model. The trend of hybrid home/office setup has been steadily on the rise, and it's not slowing down anytime soon. This means new opportunities to market our services. But what types of information should we be sharing with our ideal clients so that we can help them manage and embrace this type of work arrangement, make the right decisions, and allow them to be able to focus on the most important aspects of their jobs (not managing the negative consequences of poor ergonomics)?
In this post, I'm going to share some key statistics and findings and tell you how you can use this information to market your ergonomics services. And if your ideal clients are on the fence, you can use the evidence below to convince them.
Over the past several years, the concept of a hybrid home/office setup has taken flight: a flexible work model that supports a mix of remote, office, and on-the-go workers. Evidently, compared to any other time in the past years, there's a huge increase in the number of people working from home at the outset of the pandemic. Statistics released by Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research and Data shows a large increase in remote work setup. The proportion reporting that they worked exclusively at home rose from 5.7% of workers in January/February 2020 to 43.1% in April 2020—that's just over a few months.
This Stanford study, which tracked 16,000 employees over several months, is one of the most well-known studies on the relationship between productivity and working from home. The research found that workers who work from home see a 13% performance gain, including more minutes worked and work completed per minute. Employees may accomplish more in a working environment free from constraints, according to proponents of remote work.
The argument put out by opponents is that unsupervised employees are more likely to waste time owing to a lack of discipline or the inability of technology to facilitate working remotely. Both arguments have valid points of view, but where then does the truth stand? What do the productivity statistics for home-based workers show?
The main findings are that remote working present both clear benefits and a variety of challenges: that working from home was particularly challenging for those with younger kids and those starting new jobs; and that a ‘hybrid' work model (at home some of the time, in the office some of the time) was both wanted and expected in the future. Now let’s take a look at some of the common objections that your client might have about hybrid work or continuing to work remotely.
Objection #1: Staff will not be as productive at home as in the office.
One study found that of all new teleworkers, 90% reported being at least as productive (i.e., accomplishing at least as much work per hour) at home as they were previously at their usual place of work. Regardless of age, educational attainment, marital status, industry, occupation, and whether or not they have children, men and women tended to report to a similar extent being at least as productive at home as they were in the past at their usual place of work.
Note: This was measured at the beginning of the Stay At Home orders so there’s a lot of troubleshooting required: homeschooling, dealing with the internet, getting files online so personally, so I feel that it could've been even higher than the 90% that was reported. However, some ended up working longer hours per day at home than in the office.
Workers who reported accomplishing more work per hour while working from home indicated that they would prefer working most or all of their hours at home much more often (57%) than all other workers (30%). The large difference observed between these two groups remained in multivariate analyses, thereby confirming that productivity at home is a strong predictor of preferences for telework.
Objection #2: In-person collaboration is more valuable than online collaboration.
Interestingly enough, one study found mixed responses on how remote working had affected their relationships with colleagues, with many suggesting the pandemic had fostered a greater sense of community within teams due to the many remote meetings they held, providing greater insight into colleagues’ lives than in-person meetings might have done.
Even employees who work under the same roof will not collaborate if there aren’t appropriate systems in place to ensure that they are meeting and communicating on projects in a timely manner.
The provision of training to develop virtual collaboration skills may be useful. Organizations would benefit from considering how to facilitate informal support networks and hosting remote introductory events.
Employee preferences are important because there’s a huge value in individual choice and autonomy. We now know that hybrid working is becoming the norm, so considering employee preference will be crucial. Of course, it will not be easy to make policies that would satisfy both the management and employees. It won’t be practical for every company to fully consider their employees' choices, nor is it possible to be able to keep every worker 100% happy, but it’s good to try.
There's one answer we can agree on: all businesses will have to let their employees work remotely—just maybe not as much as some would like. That compromise comes down to one thing: going hybrid. The evolution of the hybrid Home/Office work process is here to stay, and businesses that embrace that will excel.
Knowing the information above when talking about your services to your clients in addition to sharing the benefits of your services is often all you need to move forward with them. Why? Because many employers are looking for ways to retain and attract employees. So the question is: What are you going to do to represent your business? What steps are you going to take?
If you’re interested to see more up-to-date industry research, the Accelerate program could work for you. We release curated literature reviews about ergonomics every month. Accelerate members really love this because it saves them time and money to constantly look for peer-reviewed research. But the curated literature review is just one of the five offerings that you'll get when you enroll in the Accelerate.
One more thing: On January 31st, I’m going to be hosting a free, value-packed Masterclass that'll show you exactly how to get paying clients for your ergo service business. Check out the details here to see if it’s right for you.
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