Over the past few years there has been in a rise in the number of people working remotely. A survey conducted in 2016 indicates that around 66% of UK SMEs are now allowing their employees to work out of the office.
If you think your business might be ready to go remote, it’s important to consider the risks involved and whether it would be the right option for you and your team.
There are many reasons why businesses might consider going remote, but one of the biggest benefits is the considerable amount of money companies can save. Many businesses are often able to downsize their office significantly by going remote, whilst others may be able to get rid of them completely. Saving money on infrastructure means you can spend more on growing your business and developing your team.
Another big bonus of going remote is that you would no longer be restricted by geographical location when hiring talent; you could start recruiting around the world and enhance your team by hiring the perfect people for the job. Having a globally-spread team also means that you could potentially offer around the clock support without having someone work the graveyard shift.
One of the main reasons employees like being able to work remotely is the time they get back from commuting to and from work every day. The flexibility means they have more time for personal lives and are happier overall, meaning they’re likely to be more motivated during their working hours.
However, despite all the benefits of remote working, not everyone enjoys it. This is often due to the fact that they’re disconnected from the rest of their team. Sure, there are tools that allow people to communicate with each other on a daily basis, but it’s not the same as physically being in the same room as someone. Employees may feel lonely working in a room by themselves everyday; being remote also means team members don’t get to bond with each other as much as they would if they were together in a office. Remote working also changes the way people collaborate with each other, as everything relies on telephone calls or shared documents, which isn’t the same as speaking to someone face-to-face.
There’s also a question of trust: employers have to put a lot of faith into team members to allow them to work from home. You wouldn’t be able to keep an eye on team members if they worked remotely, so it’s not a good idea to have employees that you can’t trust to work hard without in-person supervision.
Working remotely isn’t for everyone; some people believe working from home leads to more distractions as the quietness may get too much for them. Easily-distracted team members might be tempted by daytime naps or Netflix in the afternoon, which could lead to falls in productivity. Employers thinking of going remote need to find self-motivated people who would be able to fight distractions and stay on task until their lunch break or the end of the day.
Mitigating the risks
There are many tools available to help teams communicate when working remotely. Thanks to services such as Slack and Nimvelo Phone, teams are still able to get in touch to each other on a daily basis without any hassle. There’s no need to get bogged down by never-ending team email threads when you can have instant chat or can call each other without any costs.
If team members don’t like working in utter silence and would prefer to have chatter around them they could work in a coffee shop to replicate the business of an office environment – working remotely doesn’t necessarily have to mean working from home! As some employees might not enjoy working remotely permanently, it might be worth considering renting hot desks in a shared workspace where people can go if they would rather work in a office.
If you’re not sure that working from home is right for your company, you don’t have to make a commitment straightaway – why not have a week-long trial period and see how that works out for you? If you do decide to go remote (either fully or some of the time), it’s beneficial to have a separate work space when working from home and have regular video hangout meetings with the rest of your team so you can have a catch up and ensure everyone’s kept up to speed.
A company deciding to implement a remote working policy has a responsibility to make sure their workers are supported during the transition, especially if they have no experience working outside of the office environment. Make sure you create documents detailing what’s expected of employees and offering advice on how to adjust to the new setup. You should also go above and beyond to make sure they don’t feel isolated or cast adrift – have daily or weekly video calls, and tell team members they can call or message their manager if they need any help.
As previously mentioned, when it comes to hiring new employees, the world is your oyster! It might be advisable to look for people who already have experience working remotely as they’ll be familiar with protocols and are more likely to be proven independent workers.
Is remote right for you?
|Attract a wider range of talented employees to work for your business||Isolation may negatively impact some employees|
|Can encourage your team to be more productive||Easily-distracted team members might be less productive|
|Cuts out the commute||Not all employees will have an appropriate working environment at home|
|Shows employees that you trust them||More effort is required to instill company culture|
|Can lead to significant savings in terms of office and infrastructure||Not suitable for all industries|
Remote working can be hugely beneficial for a lot of companies, though it’s not suitable for every industry – it’ll probably be some time before we see remote surgeons and firefighters! If you do decide that remote working is right for your team, make sure you do everything you can to support your employees during the transition. Not everyone works in the same way or requires the same level of support, so be sure to talk to team members on an individual basis so everyone stays happy and productive. With the right policies and communication tools, remote working can save companies tonnes of money and create a better working environment for everyone.