Remote working has grown in popularity in recent years. With the Covid-19 pandemic accelerating this trend, many businesses are now seeing remote-working as a long-term solution. So, could this be a good option for your business?
The benefits of remote working
For a long time, our homes and workplaces have been two very separate things. Wake up at 6am, commute to the office, work the 9-5, get back home for 6pm.
Many of us have chosen where we live in order to best facilitate this routine. If we’re lucky, it’s a non-too-strenuous routine: a quick car journey, a short cycle ride or walk. For many, though, the process of getting to work is stressful and expensive – but, a necessary evil in order to be where we need to be to do our jobs.
Whilst there are undoubted perks to being in an office, advocates of remote working point to the following benefits:
Less time and expense commuting
Flexible work hours
Better work-life balance
Not having to lease or buy expensive office space
What are the logistics of remote working?
With technological advances, remote working is now a logistical possibility – and many businesses have adapted to working this way in response to Covid-19.
Long-term, it has been suggested that some businesses will reduce their office space or abandon their corporate space entirely and switch to full-time remote working. If you are looking to make this switch, what are the logistical considerations?
If you’re a one-person operation, remote working should be uncomplicated. If you do have staff, you should consider the following:
What is their home environment like? If staff live with family or housemates, working from home might lead to more distractions and disruption than in an office environment.
What is their home set-up like? You’ll need to ensure your staff are set up with the necessary equipment to fulfil their job roles.
What support do they need? Some job roles will require more supervision and support than others and this may be more difficult to facilitate remotely. Onboarding new members of staff remotely can be especially challenging.
The more staff you have the greater the range of circumstances and potential set up costs. However, weigh this up against the cost of leasing office space and your business needs – i.e. how necessary is it that you work closely together?
One of the saving graces of the Covid-19 lockdown has been the way technology has helped us to stay in touch and collaborate.
Going forward, if you’re looking to go remote full-time, you’ll need a comprehensive range of software solutions and systems to enable efficient home working.
If you’re a remote-working business owner and haven’t done so already, open a free business bank account to monitor finances quickly and easily. That way you can focus on making your remote company a success. You should also ensure that if you do open one, that it allows you to manage expenses, to avoid losing control of them as you spend more time communicating with colleagues.
Morale and mental health
We’ve sung the virtues of remote-working but a very real downside is the lack of close interaction with your team. Whilst some people can cope with this better than others, you need to ensure you do everything to support your team from a mental health perspective. Equally, you’ll want to ensure your business retains strong values, culture and identity even if you are spread apart.
How can you maintain a happy workforce?
Regular team catch ups
It’s easy to feel isolated and miss the social side of being in an office with your colleagues.
Think creatively about how you can relay information and build a sense of community. Could you do live Q&A panels with different teams and staff members? Workplace by Facebook is a work version of the popular social network and could be a good solution for collaboration and sharing.
The verdict: Yes, I can run my business remotely in the long run
The Covid-19 pandemic has certainly shown that remote working is possible on a mass scale. This might not have been the case a decade ago. The crucial enabling factors are faster internet speeds and the wide range of cost-effective software solutions.
Of course, it does depend on the nature of your business. Those providing digital or advisory services such as accountants, marketers and web developers should be well-placed to work remotely. Less so if you’re providing a physical service.
Away from the technical logistics, the harder part is ensuring your workforce stays motivated and the business keeps its identity/culture. The larger your workforce, the harder this will be. You will have to weigh the costs of these risks against the financial saving to be made by remote-working.
Working from home effectively: 50 tips, tricks and tools
There's no reason you can't be just as effective working from home. First, though, you need to get the right systems and tools in place.