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Natalie Patton

The right balance of remote, on-site and in-office work

The employment landscape in the United States is in a huge state of flux right now. Unemployment is at record lows while business in many sectors of the economy (like energy management and smart buildings) is booming. Adding to the changes, technology start-ups over the last 15-ish years have introduced new benefits to the youngest members of the workforce in turn creating an expectation of flexibility and free lunch that is starting to permeate the mainstream. 

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One change employers and employees keep returning to is remote work (also known as telecommuting, working from home, #WFH). Employees are looking for flexible work schedules in greater numbers, and employers are trying to understand how those benefits effect productivity.

As a mid-sized business growing at a tremendous rate, OTI is experiencing all of these changes first-hand. We strive to be a place where individuals can thrive on their own volition, and we're in a emerging industry that benefits greatly from creative solutions to longstanding problems. As such, we're willing to accommodate a variety of situations across our workforce.

The nature of our work in buildings across North America means we're doing projects in lots of places where we don't have offices. In order to best serve our customers, sometimes it makes the most sense to bring on team members who live closer to our clients than they do to our teams. For many members of our team, our work also takes them out to job sites, client meetings or conferences that add variety to the work week and make it unnecessary to report to an office every day.

Whether in the office, telecommuting or working on job sites, we value collaboration, accountability and results and we're proud of our team that consistently delivers on those values. We're also actively looking for people who embody these qualities to join teams across our company.

A recent study surveyed 1200 workers to find out how they "think about working remotely, hybrid and remote team management, meetings, and more." More than half of respondents, 62%, reported they work remotely at least sometimes. Those who said they worked remotely full-time reported being happier with their jobs 22% more than those who never worked outside the office.

The study shared good news for employers, too, finding that those employees who are happier with their jobs are also more loyal to their companies and more willing to work longer hours in exchange for the ability to work those hours beyond the typical 8-5 time frame. 

Coming at the question of changing work styles from a different angle, the Washington Post examined new data from the Census Bureau on commute times and found that "the fastest growing commute is no commute at all," with more than 1 in 20 Americans "usually" working from home. The article notes analysis from the Quarterly Journal of Economics in 2015 that found employees who work from home to be more productive "both because they worked more quickly and because they took fewer breaks and sick days."

By these numbers, OTI stands out as above-average on the ratio of employees who work remotely full- or part-time. We'd also like to think that our employee happiness quotient is pretty high, too, because we offer the flexibility these studies are examining, but also because we encourage autonomy and consistently present our people with interesting challenges and lots of room to grow. 

 

 

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