For many workers, remote working is a dream come true. No more commuting! No more trips to the office every day of every week! Instead, you can work wherever you want, whenever you want. Magical.
Remote working certainly isn’t for everyone. Some roles simply require you to be in a specific place at a specific time. And some workers want or need the structure that a steady 9-5 in the office provides. But if any of your employees are willing or able to work remotely, you should let them!
What is Remote Working?
Remote working is any job that can be done just as effectively outside of the office, from a remote location. Working from home is a common example of remote working. But remote workers might also work from cafés, or from shared offices and other dedicated working spaces.
So long as they have their laptop, their phone, and a secure wi-fi connection, remote workers can work from pretty much anywhere. Because of this, some remote workers are even able to spend their lives traveling. They explore the world, and so long as they can set aside a period of time each day to check into the office and do their job, they can essentially go where they please. These are rare cases indeed, but it explains why remote working is such an attractive idea for many!
If you manage it carefully, remote working can bring a host of business benefits. We’ve already talked about creating a flexible working policy for your business, and a more dedicated working from home policy.
Here are 5 benefits of remote working.
1. Remote Working Can Boost Your Productivity
In an average eight-hour working day, how many hours do your workers actually spend, you know, working?
Three hours. The average worker is only productive for about three hours in an eight-hour day.
So do you really need your workers to spend hours each day commuting, only to sit at their desks for a set amount of time? Where’s the logic in requiring your workers to commit to your schedule when they won’t be at their best for the whole day?
Remote workers can choose when and where to work. This means they can work whenever and wherever suits them. And when they sit down to work, you can be sure they’ll give their best.
A Cardiff University study found that remote workers tend to put in long hours and extra effort compared to their office-based co-workers.
Of course, you don’t want any of your team to work too hard. Overworking can lead to stress and burnout, which can harm employee productivity. This is why you need a remote working policy. Define your expectations and get the best of both worlds: More productive employees without the risk of burnout.
2. Save Money
All that time employees spend in the office, and they’re often only productive for three hours a day? But no matter how productive your team is on a given day, you’ll always have to cover the overheads for the entire working day.
Central heating in the winter, air conditioning in the summer. Office furniture and stationery. Plants to make the office feel more welcoming, and snacks, coffee, tea, and milk for the kitchen. It all adds up.
But for every member of your team that works remotely, your overheads will fall. You may still have to provide your remote workers with the hardware and software they need to do their jobs. But everything else, from electricity to coffee, they’ll have to cover for themselves.
Remote working could even allow you to grow your business without having to invest in any new real estate!
You’ll have to consider insurance and security for your remote workers. This is yet another reason why it’s vital to write a flexible working policy for your business. But even then, the amount of savings you could make on those everyday office essentials could be huge.
3. Expand Your Talent Pool
If you’ve ever spent any amount of time job hunting, you know the experience: You find the perfect job. It’s for a company you respect, the hours and salary are fantastic, and it’s doing something you’re good at. You’re going to excel in this role! But then you find that it’s based in London, and you live in Sunderland.
Is your business’s physical location standing in the way of your growth? What if the bright minds your business needs to thrive are based in a different city or a different country?
With remote working, anyone from anywhere can work for you. Your talent pool is no longer limited to your local area, or to people who are willing or able to relocate. Technically, the world’s your oyster.
Studies show that some form of flexible working will be the standard for more than 70% of the workforce by 2020. Modern employees may soon start to expect you to offer remote working as an option. So if you want to attract and retain the best, you may have no choice but to embrace remote working.
4. Improve Your Reputation
Flexible working will soon be the norm. So if you refuse to let your team work remotely, you may come across as an inflexible dinosaur, insisting to do things the way they’ve always been done just because that’s the way things are.
Think about the reputational hit Yahoo! took. Their executive vice president announced that their workers will no longer be allowed to work from home – even when faced with a family emergency. It made Yahoo! look backward, and more than a little heartless.
But if you’re generous with your flexible working policy, you’ll come across as forward-thinking, modern, and even benevolent. Let your employees work remotely and you’re essentially making it clear that you trust them. You don’t need to keep a close watch on them at all times. You know they’ll do their jobs, even when you’re not around to supervise. In short, a remote working policy lets you treat your employees like adults.
As we’ve seen, this can help with both recruitment and retention. But the reputational boost may also attract new clients and customers. People don’t generally want to work with, or buy from, heartless taskmasters. Show that you treat your employees with kindness and respect, and it might be just the thing to make a prospect decide to go with you, rather than your competitors.
5. It Can Be VERY Good for Your Employees
Employees want your respect and trust. And there’s no better way to demonstrate this than by letting them get on with their work on their own terms. Trust your employees to work remotely and they may value you more as a leader. A remote working policy can be great for motivation, and for improving relationships between staff and management.
But this isn’t the only way that remote working is good for employee wellbeing. Few things are more disruptive to health, happiness, and productivity than stress. But remote working means that employees don’t have to worry about many of the most common sources of stress in the workplace.
Lengthy commutes in the worst of British weather will become a distant memory. In this way, employees who work remotely can immediately enjoy a better work/life balance. All the time they used to spend in the car, on a train or on a bus can instead be spent at home, with the family, or pursuing other hobbies or interests.
Plus, remote workers can tailor their working environment to suit their specific tastes and needs. No more arguments overheating and open windows. No more squabbles over whose turn it is to make the tea. Petty disputes and office politics may become a thing of the past. And if they work best for music, they can create their own work playlist without disturbing or annoying anyone else.
Remote working is just one of the many themes we explore in our 5 Ways to Champion Employee Wellbeing whitepaper. Here you’ll find dozens of ideas that will help you make your people happier, and your business more productive. Download your copy for free here.
Remote Working Made Easy
If you want to enjoy the benefits of remote working, you’ll have to manage things carefully.
There’s a number of questions you’ll have to answer: Are employees allowed to work remotely whenever they want, or will they first need to give notice? How will their working remotely affect the rest of the team? Are there any circumstances in which it would be too inconvenient for them to work remotely?
This is where some absence management software can help. Employees could log a remote working request just like an annual leave request. Everyone would then be able to see at a glance what sort of impact their remote working would have on the rest of the team.
Did you know Edays allows your business to track employees working remotely? Book a free demo to see all the other benefits of our system.
Katrina is edays' own People Director with significant UK and international experience in delivering people strategy and value-adding HR solutions across a range of organisations and sectors (including Arriva, Boots, Rolls Royce, the utility and charity sectors). Katrina has over 20 years of experience in Human Resources and is CIPD qualified.