Remote Working: How Abandoning The Office Could Help Your Business To Thrive
As more and more businesses look for ways to boost employee satisfaction, increase staff retention and gain a competitive edge, a growing number of companies are turning to flexible and remote working.
In fact, figures from the Office of National Statistics suggest that more people are working remotely than ever before, with almost 50% of workers in the UK being remote by 2020.
Not only can flexible and remote working enable employees to work from the comfort of their own home office, but it can also allow them to progress their careers while improving their work-life balance. In order to ensure remote working lives up to the hype, businesses need to do plenty of research and planning before sending employees home. In this post, we’ll look at the pros and cons of remote working while taking inspiration from some of the companies that have already put it into practice.
Ten statistics around the benefits of remote working
1. Increased number of remote workers
The number of UK workers who have moved into remote-working has increased by nearly a quarter of a million over a decade according to the Office of National Statistics.
2. Happier staff
Remote work makes staff happier, with 55 percent of commuters in the UK reporting increased stress levels due to their commute.
3. Less commuting
45 percent of people surveyed spend over an hour commuting a day. The time and stress saved by avoiding a commute are enticing reasons for many employees to look for a job that allows remote working.
4. Flexible working makes a job more attractive
70 percent of workers feel that offering flexible working makes a job more attractive to them. It’s clear that if you’re an employer, you’re going to have access to a much broader spectrum of talented and enthusiastic workers if you offer remote working.
5. Increased employee retention rates
Employee retention rates increase by 10 percent in organisations that embrace remote working according to research by Gartner. Not only do you have access to a bigger pool of talent when you promote remote working, but you’re also likely to retain those employees for longer.
6. Low overheads for start-ups
56 percent of start-ups worldwide have outsourced their work, contributing to the demand for remote workers. This is unsurprising as the best way to keep overheads low when you’re starting out is to outsource to freelancers and contractors rather than having to provide office space.
7. Working additional hours
39 percent of people who mostly work from home often work additional hours to complete their tasks compared with 24 percent of those in fixed workplaces. Far from losing productivity, this shows your staff actually become more conscientious when they’re in their home environment.
8. Increased productivity
Highly mobile employees could save up to one hour per day by using collaborative software such as Microsoft365 or Google. And this productivity increases as more solutions are rolled out and as users become more comfortable using them. Employees can now remotely access all the files and data they need, and communicate easily with colleagues, in a secure environment.
9. Fewer distractions
75 percent of people choose to work remotely because there are fewer distractions. With co-workers unable to keep their conversations at a reasonable volume, phones constantly ringing and the use of headphones defying safe volume levels. 60% of FlexJobs’ survey respondents attributed annoying distractions to constant noise.
10. Higher productivity rating for remote teams
Remote teams have a productivity rating of 7.7 out of 10. And that’s versus a lower rating of 6.5 out of 10 for teams working in open plan offices.
By abandoning the office environment, productivity can increase, and employees can often manage their work-life balance more effectively than ever before.
Successful remote businesses
With employees benefiting from free Kindle Paperwhites and flexible working hours, over recent years, Buffer has built a reputation for being a forward-thinking business with a great culture. The start-up has now taken its relaxed and friendly attitude one step further by ditching its office completely and allowing its team to work remotely from anywhere in the world.
CEO Joel Gascoigne has cited numerous benefits to this new workplace culture shift. By abandoning the office environment, productivity has increased, and employees are able to manage their work-life balance more effectively than ever before. The company has also benefited from numerous financial perks after eliminating overhead costs such as office rent and bills.
Buffer isn’t the only company embracing remote working. Tech giant Apple allows many employees to work remotely as customer support agents. Workers are provided with an iMac and headset to use from home and they’re taught everything they need to know via online programmes and training courses. While this may sound like a dream-come-true for tech lovers, Apple stresses that this is by no means a casual position. Customer support agents must be confident, self-motivated and disciplined. They must also have access to a quiet, distraction-free workspace with a door that can be shut.
The benefits of working remotely
Since embracing remote working, Groove’s founder Alex Turnbull has seen numerous positive changes for both business and employees.
Attract better talent and reduce recruitment costs
When he originally started looking for developers to join his team, Alex really struggled to find those with the skills required in his area. However, when he widened his search and started accepting applications from talented developers from further afield, he was inundated with interest.
Alex says: “The searches for those team members were relatively short compared to the six-week-or-more recruiting campaigns we’d undergo to hire a single employee at my last start-up.”
The Groove team have a 15-minute team call every Monday morning which gives employees an opportunity to share their accomplishments from the previous week while discussing goals and challenges for the week ahead.
Nothing can stunt the growth of a company like an unhappy, tired and overworked team. By making sure employees are satisfied and energised, productivity can be boosted and staff may even be able to achieve their goals faster and harness better results.
According to Alex, remote working has enabled him to do just that. The Groove team have a 15-minute team call every Monday morning which gives employees an opportunity to share their accomplishments from the previous week while discussing goals and challenges for the week ahead.
If technology fails, the whole team won’t lose productivity
If the internet goes down or there’s a power failure in an office environment, productivity levels can drop amongst the entire team, leaving everyone unable to work. However, if everyone is spread out across a number of locations when one person suffers a technical issue, it’s likely that others can ‘hold the fort’ until the individual is back up and running again.
A reduction in overheads
As every business owner will know, whether you rent or own your office space, it’s far from cheap and the cost of such overhead costs can equate to a significant percentage of your outgoings.
When a business goes fully remote and ditches furniture, electricity, equipment and internet access, significant savings can be made. In order to successfully manage a remote team, a business may need to invest in a series of tools to enable the whole team to collaborate effectively from home. However, the cost of these tools is sure to be significantly lower than those associated with an office environment. Every pound saved on overheads is a pound that can be reinvested in the growth of your business and employees.
When a business goes fully remote and ditches furniture, electricity, equipment and internet access, significant savings can be made.
How to make remote working…work!
Although working remotely can have countless benefits, in order to get it right and ensure the team stays productive and satisfied in their roles, substantial planning is required.
Communication is perhaps the most important part of making remote working work. You’ll still need to discuss ideas and targets on a regular basis, collaborate on projects, and share important information just as you would in a traditional workplace environment. In order to get the most of your new remote working project, we recommend embracing cloud storage and using popular tools such as Google Drive, Trello, HipChat, Slack, MS Teams and many more. Such resources should make it easier to communicate with one another, store files, and continue business as usual.
Self-discipline is another important consideration. Even some of the most hardworking employees can find themselves procrastinating when faced with so much freedom and flexibility. If this problem arises, try not to be too hard on your employees. After all, after years of working in an office environment, flexible/remote working may seem like a shock to the system. Stay in touch with your employees on a regular basis and, if someone is finding the new system a challenge, work together to find a solution. Set regular targets which must be met and have a weekly team meeting to assess progress and discuss the week ahead.
The benefits of flexible working for businesses
We’ve talked previously about how slow internet speeds are costing UK businesses thousands every year in lost productivity. However, even if you already have access to a superfast broadband connection and your employees are given the tools needed to complete tasks effectively, there are other ways you can boost productivity even further. If your team is firing on all cylinders, they’ll produce the best work of their lives.
Whether they’re more creative, thinking quicker or just more driven, they’ll be pushing your company further than ever before.
But how do you boost productivity? It doesn’t mean removing all mobile phones or getting rid of the Ping-Pong table. Quite the opposite in fact. With flexible working, you’ll actually get more out of your employees so it’s possible to boost productivity.
By enabling flexible working, your employees will be able to organise their working lives to complement their schedules. So, whether they need to take a quick break from their work to pick their kids up from school or run an errand, they’ll be able to do so without taking time off. By letting employees manage their work and life balance, they’re likely to be more focussed when they sit down to do work. Also, something important to note: since 2014, government rules around the flexible working state that employees now have the right to request flexible working hours. Employers must also handle these requests in a ‘reasonable manner’, evaluating the possibility of using technology to facilitate employees’ needs.
- Employees will be more productive, by having a better work/life balance
- You can save money, by cutting down on electricity and maintenance bills in your office
- Your company can grow, without having to invest in more office space, computers or other hardware
If you’re wondering how your employees can access important documents, quickly and securely when working from home or out of the office, virtual desktop infrastructure can help.
If you’d like to learn more about how technology can help make your workplace more flexible and increase the satisfaction of your employees, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team at Synextra.
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