Flexibility in the workplace is no longer considered a benefit. In fact, it’s more likely to be a prerequisite, featuring high on the list of employee demands and a key consideration for employers competing for popular skills.
Just how flexible businesses can (or should be) and the benefits it creates for employers and employees has been a hot topic for years and a wealth of recent studies takes things a step further, offering a long list of stats in support of the modern working phenomenon, making it harder than ever for employers to ignore.
Remote working can:
- Increase productivity
- Drive employee efficiency
- Lower stress
- Boost morale
- Reduce employee turnover
- Reduce the cost of office space and overheads
- Increase employee engagement
- Meet the demands of younger workers and
- Keeps older employees in the workforce for longer
Allowing, or even encouraging, employees to work remotely with mobile devices can be a shift in employer psyche as much as a change in the physical. It’s not right for every business, but for those that can use it to improve productivity and performance while reducing costs, it makes sense to explore the opportunity.
5 questions to help you work out whether your business is ready for remote working:
- Is remote working already in operation to some degree?
In some businesses, the opportunity to work from home is reserved for key roles or senior members of management, which could contribute to a ‘them and us’ divide. But, if that’s as much as you’re comfortable with, a slow roll out can work well as a pilot, giving you time to see how things go and decide whether it’s a policy that could work on a larger scale.
- Would employees appreciate the ability to work remotely?
It won’t be possible for everyone and many employees enjoy the sociability of working in an office environment with the opportunity to mix and interact with colleagues.
Either way, if the option is available, it says something about the importance a business puts in providing a flexible and rewarding work environment for its employees.
- Does remote working make financial sense?
Office space, hardware, running costs, facilities, décor, security, insurance….the list of expenses for business premises goes on and on, so if you can reduce the lot by embracing remote working and having your staff join meetings through the likes of VoIP, for example, that’s reason enough to seriously consider it as it could curb your IT costs and general day to day costs too.
- Could it make you more competitive?
If your closest competitors are already operating a remote working policy, you can take that as a clear sign it’s both workable and profitable.
It might also be giving them competitive advantages you haven’t thought about, such as:
- Proving more attractive from a recruitment perspective
- Pricing more competitively because their overheads are lower or
- Having access to a wider pool of expertise using contractors and freelancers
- Will you be more agile as a result?
As a business, anything that allows you to react quicker, manage easier or spend smarter, can be considered a good thing. If being more flexible opens your business up to any of these benefits, a remote working culture could be just the ticket to help future proof your operation.
- Could the BYOD trend work for you too?
The pros and cons of bringing your own device to work have been widely publicised since millennials made it a ‘thing’ – opting to use their own laptops (or phones) with their favourite software, to get the job done better.
It’s not completely black and white though, so it makes sense to look at both sides of the argument.
On the one hand, device familiarity and total convenience are hard to knock. With a BYOD policy, businesses can ensure the software and security required are installed and updates regularly, and employees are comfortable with the tools they need to do their job from day one.
On the other hand, cyber security can be an issue, with the risk of breaches through inbox threats and ransomware, and the loss of company information, increasing for businesses who employ a BYOD policy.
Risks can be minimised by stepping up security and ensuring employees are aware of the risks and their responsibilities.
Another plus is that employees who provide their own devices and work space can save employers a significant amount of money both short and long-term. On the other hand, again, the perfect recruit might not come with their own souped-up device. If that could mean losing the best person for the job, as a business, you need to decide whether:
- That’s reason enough to spend more time and money searching for another person, or
- You’re open to the idea of supplementing the cost of whatever they need
The big take away here is that home is also considered the workplace for more employers than ever and the number opting for the freedom it brings is growing year-on-year.
Businesses that want to stay in the game and hold on to their skilled resource need to keep pace. If you’re not there already, don’t worry. You’re just a quick assessment away from understanding how remote working can benefit your business and what it would take to get you there. A good IT service provider can help with both.