It’s easier than ever for sales teams to work from home. Entire organizations successfully manage 100% remote functionality, such as the teams at Basecamp and Close.io., or these top 100 companies with remote opportunities.
While the ‘butts in chairs’ mentality has shifted, there are benefits to having a sales team in-house. This might be even truer for sales than for other departments because of what Jim Keller, VP of Sales at BrightTag, refers to as “tribal knowledge.” In a nutshell, this means the sales know-how, product knowledge, and general camaraderie that is difficult to distribute and absorb without a centralized sales team. While 100% remote might not be a good fit for every sales team, there are few big advantages to consider adopting a flexible work-from-home policy (the best of both worlds!).
#1 Employees appreciate the ability to be productive
Offices, especially sales departments, have a constant ebb and flow of potential distractions. Productivity is the magic when an individual’s focus balances with those fleeting moments sans distractions. Jason Fried describes in his book “Rework” that “interruptions break your workday into a series of workday moments.” He also talks about the “alone zone” and how stretches of time by yourself can be extremely productive. This type of productivity is helpful for time between calls to review pipeline tasks and send follow-ups.
Office distractions and time sinks can be avoided by letting your sales team crank from home a day or two a week.
#2 WFH saves employees money
Salespeople sell things in exchange for money. They like money. Chances are most salespeople think about their salaries and commissions within the context of a personal budget. In the same way that sales reps are motivated by commission and bonuses, they are also motivated by the money a WFH (work from home) policy saves them. Extra money is always welcomed and employees will be more loyal because of the savings.
Working from home allows your team to save money on things like transportation, fancy clothes, lunch and snacks, and make-up (mascara is expensive too!).
#3 WFH is good for the environment
This has to be included because … science! If I wake up and walk to the next room for a day of work, I contribute significantly less harm to the environment than if I got in a car, bus, or train and trekked to and from the office.
According to the Census Bureau, the average American spends 100 hours a year commuting to work, which is more than the average of 80 hours allocated for vacations. If you eliminated one average American commute per week, you'd save between 1,300 and 2,600 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. While one commuter might not make a big difference, imagine if everyone worked from home once a week. That’s something to feel good about!
#4 Gives employees more real estate options
A flexible WFH policy allows your employees to consider more options when deciding where to live. For example, a 2-hour commute 3 days a week is much different than the same commute 5 days a week. For some places this might not make a whole lot of difference. However, for big and expensive cities like NYC and San Francisco, there are more affordable options in places with a longer hike to metro areas.
You can incorporate your WFH policy into your talent brand and widen the scope of recruiting efforts for your sales team. A flexible WFH sales policy also allows you to expand to new territories by hiring local and connected sales talent to work remotely.
#5 Other benefits are expected and they aren’t that sexy
The competition for top sales talent can be brutal. Most top performers expect the basics in terms of employee perks and benefits. While it’s important and meaningful to have things like health insurance, FSAs, and a stocked pantry at the office, those things might not be move the needle for someone comparing new opportunities.
A flexible WFH policy shows employees and potential candidates that you trust your employees, that you care about their well-being, and that, as an organization, you are forward-thinking and open to change.
#6 Workplace apps make it easy to stay connected
It’s easier and more cost-effective than ever for employees to stay connected outside of the office. With apps like Slack and Trello, employees working from home can easily access all of the tools they need to do their job and communicate with the team.
#7 Taking ‘a break’ at home is the best
It doesn’t matter if you’re working in the office or at home, after a while you’ll need to step away from your tasks and regroup. Diversion is inevitable and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Taking time to reset increases focus and productivity. A salesperson needs to reset their mental energy after cranking through 100+ calls or blasting through their inbox. It’s better for their well-being, but also for the bottom line when employees are given the space to refocus between sales efforts.
Letting your team work from home gives your employees a more natural environment to spend their breaks, grab lunch, or, heck let’s be honest, maybe even spend time between calls doing a load of laundry or two. The point is that spending these diversions at home allows your team to mentally and physically reset their focus. A quick workout, play session with family pets, or homemade meal is much healthier and productive than wasting 20 minutes pretending to work.
#8 Transparency Builds Trust
While giving your employees more freedom increases engagement and trust with the organization, a WFH policy requires that trust to be reciprocal, which means it has to be genuine. If a WFH sales policy is to be effective, you’ll need to trust that your sales team is making calls and closing deals from home. Sales, maybe more than most teams, has immense transparency and accountability built into its measures for success. Luckily for sales leadership, unlike most roles you have a lot of insights available to you to learn about the productivity and performance of individuals on your team. This should make it easier to take the first leap of trust.
Mutual trust in the form of a WFH policy not only creates the aforementioned benefits for your employees, it also creates a sense of solidarity between leadership and employees. You are forced to hire and keep only the employees you trust. If you have an employee you don’t trust to work from home effectively if they choose, chances are they shouldn’t be on your sales team.