It’s estimated that within the next decade approximately 60% of UK workers will regularly work remotely. This is largely due to technological advances and how we communicate, collaborate and carry out our day to day activities using online resources. It’s also becoming more normal for employees to work from home (or other out-of-office location) and employers are more open to this way of working. There are some considerations that employers should take into account when allowing staff to work remotely.
- 70% of British office workers feel more productive working away from the office
- 38% say they are more creative out of the office
- 90% say flexible working doesn’t impact their ability to collaborate with colleagues.
With the advances in SaaS delivered solutions it’s now possible to access business systems from anywhere with access to the internet, allowing employees the freedom of where they spend their working day and affording employers many benefits as a result.
A straight forward, fair and easy to understand policy should be created and agreed to by all those employees that will work remotely, regardless of frequency. Understanding what is and isn’t acceptable, and the correct processes that should be followed, are important factors if the policy is to be successful.
One of the biggest challenges when creating a policy is that the justification for working remotely may, and probably will, differ from one employee to the next. It may be necessary to create a number of holistic guidelines and ask managers to speak with their subordinates on an individual basis regarding what is expected of them.
The internet allows us to communicate with anyone in the world, instantly. Utilising this resource for your businesses communications probably won’t require any additional time, effort or money as your employees are pretty much certain to be using online communication tools already.
Social media sites, purpose built online portals and mobile apps are solutions that the vast majority of people use every day and are comfortable doing so. No additional training is required as employees are already familiar with the functionality, no additional spend is needed as these sites and tools are often free and, as long as there’s an internet connection, employees can be contacted.
There’s also the more traditional communication methods, phone and email, which are both taken care of by a smart phone.
Working as part of a team, when each team member is at a different location, may at first thought seem difficult, but through the use of online resources such as Basecamp team collaboration need not be an issue. Screen and file sharing, document versioning control and video conferencing allow colleagues to work together as effectively as if they were sat in the same room.
Free online tools such as Google Docs allow multiple users to work on one document together, in real time. The ability to work together on a document as well as discuss your findings, ideas and suggestions online enables collaborators to reach their common goal as they would working together in an office environment.
Remote working offers an added advantage over working in an office with others as, once you’ve taken part in a remote meeting you can carry on with your work free from distraction in a comfortable environment.
Security should be a priority when sharing sensitive information across the internet. Any reputable provider of a communication/collaboration tool or system that stores data should have security information readily available upon request. If in doubt ask for further clarification, if this information is not forthcoming then look elsewhere.
5) Mindset and resources
Employees must be of the correct mindset in order for them to work efficiently while out of the office. If they’ve not prepared a work space and ensured that they have the tools required to work remotely then their productivity will suffer.
Ensuring that those working outside of the office are fully informed as to the best practices is crucial if productivity is to be maintained. This should include referring to your remote working policy, assisting in the setup of a home office or advising on the best tools for certain tasks. It may even require extra spend in order to provide the tools required by the remote workers. It’s the responsibility of both the employee and employer to make sure that telecommuting doesn’t adversely affect output and quality of work.
A good checklist for an employee wanting to work from home is:
- Is the role suitable for a remote worker?
- Do you have access to support?
- Is the home office quiet and distraction free?
- Do you have a stable internet connection?
- Do you have a headset to enable you to collaborate and talk to colleagues at the same time?
There is also the mindset of the employer. Do you trust your employees to work from home unsupervised?
6) Green benefits
Not having to travel, whether this be to the office or a customer, is great for the environment as it reduces emissions caused by transportation.
Conducting meetings and presentations online is becoming more normal as businesses realise the impact that travel is having on the environment and turn to online tools as an alternative. Indeed we have supplied CIPHR for customers that, up to the point of sale, had never met our sales representatives in person.
With the ability to demonstrate products and services and take control of, or give control of, computers remotely, travel can be reduced for all of these types of meetings and help to protect the environment. Among the other green benefits of working from home are:
- When you’re at home you’re less likely to buy lunch provided in an environmentally damaging package such as plastic or polystyrene
- You’re less likely to print unnecessarily
- With less people in the office, less resources are needed to cater for things such as heat, paper, electricity etc
7) Attract more talent through more attractive employer brand
Providing the option to work remotely makes your job proposition more attractive and, as a result, means that a wider range of talent will be attracted to your brand. Many people now expect to be able to work away from the office at least a couple of times a week, and consider this type of flexibility a high priority.
The normality of working online from a location of choice is becoming a factor that many people believe makes it nonsensical for brands not to offer a remote working option, if you’re not offering such a package, there’s probably a competitor that is, and they will win in the talent war.
Geographically, candidates who may live too far from the office to commute daily will be interested if they’re aware that they’re entitled to work from home on a regular basis, therefore widening and increasing your talent pool.
8) Happier employees
Increased flexibility and not having to commute to the office every day ultimately improves employee happiness. Increased employee wellbeing benefits the business through productivity, employee engagement and reduced turnover.
Happy employees are more likely to sing your brands praises on social media, further increasing your future recruiting campaigns likelihood of success and providing free word of mouth marketing for your business.