What's the best way to get the most out of your financial workers? Maybe just tell them to go home-literally.
Telecommuters say they feel and work better when working from home, according to a recent survey by Staples Advantage, a business-to-business division of Staples. In fact, over 85% of telecommuters polled say they're more productive, happier, more loyal and even healthier when they are spared daily commutes to an office.
The survey also indicates employees feel that working at home gives them more balance in their lives and can reduce work-related stress. Telecommuters also claim their stress levels have dropped an estimated 25% since working from home. And 73% even say they eat healthier when working from home.
But does this "work from home" model provide the same worker productivity benefits for financial advisors and their employees?
When asked, advisors wholeheartedly agreed that working from home can save workers time, reduce stress and lead to better productivity.
"Working from home is fantastic,'' said Herbert K. Daroff, estate planning attorney and financial planner for Boston-based Baystate Financial Services, whose estimated 400 employees work out of five of the six New England states.
"The ability to work on a ... fully protected network from home allows our employees to get a lot of work done," Daroff said. "I work at home, and it has substantially reduced my own stress level in getting things done and having access to all of my records."
Daroff said the work-from-home model has also allowed some of his staff who can no longer work full time at the office to log part-time schedules from home.
"There's staff that have been able to continue working for us by working from home and having access to the materials they need to work with," Daroff said. "The ability to cut back on all kinds of commuting has created all kinds of hours of extra productive time."
Bob Littell, an Altanta-based financial services industry veteran and founder of Littell Consulting Services, agrees that financial advisor employees can effectively telecommute, and provides them certain advantages.
"When you can just all of a sudden shut off, where the telephone doesn't ring as much as it would if you were in another office, yes, I think working at home would be very productive," Littell said. "I don't think that there's any question that working on your own is to your advantage."
"The creativity and innovation side of the business has a great advantage from being on your own," he said. "Because what tends to happen in an office is there are constantly interruptions. You can lock your door, but there are still going to be instances where you'll get 'Oh, Mr. So and So is on the phone and he says that it's urgent.' It's definitely not the same as working out of your own office at home."
In past decades, says Littell, financial services workers would need to come to the office to access library and resource materials. "Today, that library can be Google,'' he said.
Staples Advantage fielded online responses from more than 140 telecommuters at companies of various sizes and across industries. Conducted in May 2011, the survey asked respondents, who work at least one day per week from home, about their home office setup, furniture and technology, as well as their overall telecommuting experience.
Cambridge, Mass-based Forrester Research predicts the number of work-at-home employees in the U.S. will reach 63 million by 2016, according to its report, "U.S. Telecommuting Forecast, 2009 to 2016," released in March.