Remote working is one of those changes that’s crept up in the past few years in how we work.
In the past 30 years, the number of remote workers spiked from 9% to 37% and it is predicted that about half of the companies’ full-time work staff will work remotely by 2020.
The traditional executive approach has been to avoid it at all costs. This management resistance boiled down to a few key reasons;
lack of trust in employees to work independently,
technologically it wasn’t possible,
an all-or-nothing approach
The benefits of remote work tended to be overlooked. It’s 2017, and I’m not sure the attitude of Irish CEOs outside the technology sector, has changed much beyond this point.
Certainly, there are challenges with remote working that are difficult to ignore, like communication, company culture, and coordination. These can be tricky to get a proper grip of with a remote workforce. However, to dismiss it for these reasons alone is to miss out on some major potential benefits for your company. In this article, we outline compelling reasons why your organisation needs to consider remote working.
Attract the best talent
Recruiting the best people that your company can, has to be one of your most important tasks. It’s one of the most challenging that you’re faced with as a business leader.
The decision criteria on why someone chooses a workplace is increasingly determined by the company’s flexibility to work scheduling and remote work options. In fact, Gallup workforce polls reveal that remote work and flexible approach to work schedule plays the major role in the decision making process of the talent you want to attract.
There are of course other factors, like interest they have in the type of work, the opportunity to develop, the quality of manager the person will work for, overall compensation, job location.
Not offering remote work option limits the pool of potential candidates two-fold when you think about it. On one hand, your company is straight away less attractive to your potential candidates even when they are within the radius of the commute time acceptable for them. On the other hand, you need to also recognise that your office location has a natural employment radius, the commutable distance.
You can increase your radius by being a great company to work for and rewarding your staff very well but this only extends it a certain amount. It’s generally acknowledged by various studies that the longer an employee commutes for, the worse their well being and productivity.
A study of more than 34,000 employees discovered people who spent more than half an hour a day on commute to work are 33 per cent more likely to suffer from depression, 37 per cent more likely to have financial worries and 12 per cent more likely to report multiple aspects of work-related stress.And even if your average candidate is not aware of those studies, he or she can feel the impact of long commutes on their health and focus on looking for work within a very small commute radius.
With this in mind, you have a finite number of people you can attract to join your organisation. Allowing people to work remotely opens up a wider pool of previously unreachable talent.
Retain your best talent
Finding a new employee and allowing them to work remotely is a challenge but your existing staff are assets that you need to retain. Sometimes this means making changes to their working arrangements. There are lots of cases where an employee genuinely wants to stay working for your company but also wishes to buy a house in a different city, have more flexible working arrangements to look after children, move closer to their family, or move for a job that their spouse is taking.
Allowing employees to work from home can also boost productivity. Some research shows that remote employees can be 13.5% more productive than the traditional office workers. There are a couple of reasons for this – more focused, concentrated time, better job organization, fewer distractions, higher happiness and job satisfaction levels, less fatigue.
By not enabling your best people to work remotely, you are losing out on retaining talent that will take time and money to replace. By enabling them, you’re empowering them and companies will see an increase in morale and possibly up to 50% in staff retention.
If your workforce cannot access your office due to a fire, severe weather, public transport strike or any form of disaster how would your company’s cope? Most companies can’t cope with these scenarios. If you don’t have the tools to allow your team to work remotely then when one of these unexpected situations arises at short notice, you’re simply not going to be able to handle it.
When factoring in annual leave, one lost day could represent almost 0.5% of working days in the year. Apart from incurring a full working day of payroll across all your staff, you also risk reputation damage or lost revenue from not being able to operate your business as usual.
If you’re considering a best practice business continuity plan, you need to naturally consider cloud services. If you’re relying on on-premise equipment for your file storage, CRM, phone system and any other essential business tools, then you don’t have an effective disaster recovery (DR) strategy. By having at least some staff who work remotely, then the tools they’re already equipped with means you’ll have a ready-to-go contingency plan.
Saves on Cost
If your company is close to capacity in your current office(s), introducing a remote working program is a convenient way of freeing up space or saving on the overhead costs related to moving an office.
Example: Aetna saved $78 million by enabling 14,500 of their employees to work remotely. American Express reported annual savings of $10 million to $15 million thanks to the same strategy.
Using a hot desking policy allows you to maximise the use of your office space and hire more without needing to expand to new premises. Aside from reducing commercial property costs, you can also reduce facilities overheads.
While cost shouldn’t be the primary driver for you to explore remote working, it’s often cited in studies as a benefit to companies. With remote employees often living outside major cities, this means their cost of living can be significantly lower and a result can be hired at a lower cost.
Before you can look at implementing remote working, start with an analysis of your business capabilities to support this. Do staff have the tools to do their job from home? Starting with communications, if you need a cloud phone solution that can connect multiple offices and remote staff then contact Blueface today for a consultation to review your existing set-up and to see if a move to unified communications will benefit your business.