The restrictions on movement imposed by the coronavirus pandemic have been gradually easing around the world, but it seems that safety measures will affect us all at least until the end of the year. This means businesses must adapt to the new normal in every way they can, and work with any new opportunities they can see. Working from home is one way to deal with the crisis, and this new mode of work can also present a series of benefits to businesses.
If employees are spending more time working either at home or from a café or co-working space, they will not need to work from the office so frequently. This office space can still be an option for them, but with different arrangements, such as hot-desking.
Scaling back the office will mean expensive rents can be saved. Extra overheads incurred by the running of an office can also be reduced, such as furniture, office supplies, and coffee and snacks. The costs of commuting for employees will also be saved. When IBM implemented a remote-work programme it saved around $100 million every year in the US.
A recent study has proved working from home can bring about an increase in productivity by as much as 47 percent. This may be due to having a more comfortable and quieter environment, and fewer distractions from co-workers. The new lifestyle does come with a series of challenges for individuals who are more familiar with traditional structures, but with remote work as optional or part-time, employees can adjust more gradually.
High employee turnover is costly for businesses, who want to do all they can to keep their employees from leaving. While large organisations can offer more in terms of salaries and benefits, small businesses are better positioned to give their staff more freedom. With more flexibility, individuals can take care of their own responsibilities and enjoy a better work-life balance.
Many of us are glad to escape the rat race and enjoy the saved time and expense of traveling to work. This can also reduce the level of harmful emissions and congestion in cities, as employees only travel when they need to. Communications and meetings can be done through chat, phone or video conferencing so meetings in-person are reduced.
With the option of working at home, employees are more likely to work on days that they are feeling slightly under the weather. This means less time will be taken as sick days unnecessarily. It also means that contagious diseases will not be shared in the office. Staff who are working on a remote basis will feel less of a need to take holidays so frequently.
In May 2020, CEO of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, announced to employees that they would have the option to work remotely on a permanent basis. This was in response to the trend of working from home that the coronavirus restrictions brought about. The move from Twitter improved the company image as a flexible and caring employer and made it a more attractive prospect for potential employees.
When time is more adaptable to the needs of employees, time-consuming processes and conventions can be avoided. Needless meetings can be avoided, and employees will have more independence to manage their time in the most effective ways. The rigid structure of the traditional office can be broken down so wasteful norms can be taken out of the equation.
When employees are granted the independence that allows them a more comfortable and healthy work-life balance, they will inevitably be happier with their employer. Not only does this mean they are less likely to leave the company, but they will also be less interested in a higher salary. Research has shown that 36 percent of employees are more interested in the possibility of working remotely than a pay rise.
In addition to an improved working lifestyle and increased motivation, remote work also gives individuals the autonomy to approach their work in the way that they find to be most suitable. Employees can each create a work environment and schedule that suits them best, without needing to follow a general consensus. This in turn increases their motivation and quality of life.
Remote work does require that computing systems and networks are available remotely and that an IT security framework is sufficient to protect against threats. But now with technologies that are more intuitive and easier to use for most people, remote work is much more accessible to staff. Independent employees can work through technical challenges and learn in the process, so overall skills levels will be increased. For the cases in which extra help is required, IT support can also be available on a remote basis to help with the issues that require more specific training.
A more relaxed approach to working arrangements is something that will appeal to most employees. But this does not need to be a full-time arrangement, so companies should also offer the chance to work in a central location. In this way, employees can work to their personal preferences and the best of both worlds can be enjoyed.
Zak Gottlieb is the Business Development Manager for Computers In The City, a London-based IT support organisation focusing on small and medium-sized businesses. An experienced consultant, he has accreditation with such companies as Microsoft, HP, and Cisco.
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