Working from home is great for anyone who wants to keep up with family activities, maintain a healthy social life, cut back on commuting or just maintain a fair work-life balance. And the great news is that companies which offer remote jobs, flexible scheduling or other telecommuting-related perks are quietly on the rise. More and more, top companies from brand-new startups to established industry leaders are realizing the benefits of remote employees. Here are just a few of the best and most recognizable examples of companies leading this labor revolution.
It’s no surprise that video-streaming platform Netflix, which consistently finds itself on lists of companies with fantastic benefits, is also one of the biggest promoters of the work-from-home spirit. Its company culture prioritizes giving employees “freedom and responsibility,” two qualities that have become synonymous with the company’s hiring policy. This focus yields effective, productive workers whether they are working in office or remotely. However, Netflix hires only the very best, most creative and best-qualified employees, so to enjoy all the benefits of working for the streaming giant, from a year of unlimited, paid family leave to the ability to determine your own vacation time, you’ll have to be the cream of the crop.
The good news is that since Netflix’s HR practices have become something of a bible for Silicon Valley talent supervisors, the company’s focus on employee autonomy, remote work and great employee perks should trickle down to all manner of new startups and innovative companies looking for top talent.
You might hear IBM and immediately think traditional, fusty, or outdated. Think again. The godfather of technology and consulting corporations is surprisingly nimble when it comes to employee policy. In a way, that makes sense. How else do you keep a global corporation of nearly 400,000 employees happy and productive -- much less survive multiple tech booms and busts -- with regressive hiring practices?
IBM originally went all-in on telecommuting, but have pulled back in recent years in some of their operations and offer part-time remote work or flex scheduling. Still, over the past decade, with the battle for top technical talent growing ever more fierce, it has embraced a decidedly modern, competitive work-from-home program for many departments. And IBM's strategy has paid off: According to a 2010 study of IBM workers in 75 countries, those who telecommuted were able to work 19 more hours a week before family concerns interfered with productivity. Nearly 80% of IBM managers agreed employees working remotely increased returns.
In 2013, just as Yahoo and HP were demanding their thousands of Bay Area employees come into the office, something different was going down in Round Rock, Texas. At the Dell headquarters, CEO Michael Dell announced that he wanted half of his 14,000 employees working from home by 2020. The strategy served Dell, which manufactures all manner of IT and personal computer equipment, much of which allows workers to conduct business efficiently from home. But it was still a risk, shown in the way it departed from the general rule at the time.
The move was part of a larger plan to overhaul the company’s recruiting and HR processes, which included such policies as increasing university recruiting and focusing on employee referrals. Dell demonstrated an important point about working from home: companies who embrace it fully -- and state their intentions clearly -- are typically more successful than those who slowly slip into allowing more flexible schedules.
Salesforce is one of the fastest-growing -- and most innovative -- companies on the market today, and its embrace of remote employment has played a big role in that rise. Headquartered in San Francisco, Salesforce bills itself as the world’s No. 1 customer success platform, and learning to build better relationships has gone hand in hand with its many employee empowerment policies. The company has more than 30 offices worldwide, but it’s hiring is not limited to these locations. A quick scan of online job boards shows a wide array of technical positions that offer full telecommuting capabilities.
Airbnb is an innovative service that provides an affordable alternative to hotel stays, and it is currently exploding with growth and adding hundreds of employees. Not only does the company work with hundreds of thousands of “hosts” around the world -- not to mention translators, on-site photographers, and on-site host acquisition specialists -- but it also encourages many of its headquarter employees to work remotely, especially in areas like customer service and community management. Although, with an office like this, few employees could complain about having to spend a few hours a week in the workplace.
Nobody has adopted the work-from-home ethos more completely than Automattic, the cutting-edge startup responsible for building and maintaining the blogging platform Wordpress. All of the 200-odd Automattic workers conduct their daily business remotely, and what the company saves in real estate costs is distributed, in $2,000 blocks per employee, to spruce up those home offices. The company has an array of other employee benefits, such as an open vacation policy and employee meetups all over the world. But the remote office policy is ingrained in Autommattic’s DNA. That philosophy, coupled with the company’s knack for tackling big ideas in blogging, has contributed to its current pre-money valuation of $1 billion.
These companies are just a few examples of major businesses that are increasingly altering work environments to provide employees with the ability to work remotely, and they are already seeing a positive impact on employee happiness and productivity.