According to the Office for National Statistics, remote working is on the rise. There are now more ‘home workers’ in the UK than ever before: since records began in 1998, their ranks have swelled by 1.3 million and home workers now represent almost 15% of the nation’s workforce.
When the Government’s flexible working legislation came into force two years ago, every employee gained the statutory right to request flexible working (including remote working) after 26 weeks’ service.
From an employee’s perspective, this is undoubtedly a benefit – but what effect does this growing trend have on smaller businesses? Rather than being an inconvenience, can such an arrangement actually prove beneficial for all concerned?
Here are some simple ways in which employers can use advances in communications technology to turn remote working to their advantage:
With the right infrastructure, many employees have the potential to work efficiently and effectively wherever they are in the world. As long as they can access a secure broadband connection via a suitable device, there’s no need for them to sit at a particular desk. A cloud-based VoIP communications package will link your entire team in a virtual office and save on rent, rates, lighting, heating and all the other costs associated with running a physical corporate space.
In the last ten years, video and audio conferencing technology has improved dramatically. Gone are the days of poor quality sound, jittery images and repeated disconnections – today’s solutions enable far flung teams to conduct productive meetings at the click of a mouse or tap of a smartphone. Many unified communications packages include audio and video conferencing as standard, helping you cut down on expensive fuel and travel costs.
When your employees work remotely, the issues that tend to hinder their productivity in the office impact less on your operations. A VoIP system eliminates the need for traditional hardware and infrastructure, so any kitchen table can be transformed into a productive working space. Transport delays, family emergencies and even sickness can be managed far more easily from home; and with fewer interruptions remote workers are often able to finish projects faster and more accurately.
If additional office space in a different city or country is beyond your means, a team of remote workers can help your business expand virtually. With most VoIP systems you can add employees, departments and locations along with multiple, geographically-specific, inbound numbers, giving customers the impression of a larger organisation without the need for a regional headquarters.
For the right people, working remotely can stimulate productivity and decrease stress by allowing them to create a more manageable work/life balance. Studies have shown that home workers eat more healthily and exercise more frequently, which in turn means that they approach their working hours with more enthusiasm and focus. Offering remote working also opens up employers to a wider pool of talent, giving them access to the best people no matter where they choose to live.
Increasing numbers of businesses are discovering the benefits of remote working – not only for their employees’ sake, but for the positive effect it has on their operations. Remote working is just one way to cut costs and increase the productivity of your team.
If you’d like to know more about how a cloud-based communications solution could reduce spending and free up resources, download our free SME Guide to Cutting Costs.