As remote working becomes more common in the workplace, is it time your business considered offering this benefit to employees?
There are certainly several advantages to enabling staff to work from home. This has led to many businesses supporting it, such as Dell, Yell.com and Rackspace. In fact, new research from the Trades Union Congress (TUC) revealed that the number of people who ‘usually’ work from home is more than 1.5 million in the UK (up 19% from 2005).
Despite this, many businesses can still be concerned about teleworking in an agile workplace and the impact on communication, collaboration, and innovation. IBM for example, an early adopter of working from home, have recently reversed their decision. This is a step that many thinks could backfire and is certainly not in line with current trends. However, in 2013, Marissa Mayer also made a controversial decision to ban Yahoo employees from working from home.
To help you decide whether working from home is right for your business, we’ve collated some of the advantages and disadvantages of working from home, as well as some advice on how to manage working from home effectively.
Advantages of working from home
Enabling your employees to work from home can have several benefits, not only for your staff but also for your business:
Happier employees – Research has revealed that giving employees the freedom to work outside of the office walls, even for just a couple of days a week, can lead to happier and more satisfied staff. Not only can they avoid the stressful morning commute, but employees are given more freedom and responsibility.
More productive employees – Have you ever sat in the office and been bombarded with questions, or become distracted by other people’s loud conversations? Working from home can have far fewer distractions, giving employees the opportunity to remain focused and get more done. It can also lead to fewer sick days. In fact, a recent study reveals staff are 17% more productive when working from home.
Reduce staff turnover – Offering the option to work from home can not only make employees happier but has also been proven to reduce staff turnover by 50%. This means a more stable workforce and lower recruitment costs for your company.
Search a global talent pool – By supporting working from home, you can accept talent from a much wider graphical region, or even globally. This means you can focus on picking the very best talent, regardless of their location.
Attract better employees – Remote working is an extremely attractive benefit, especially to the millennial worker. This can therefore help your business attract high-quality job candidates, which keeps your business competitive.
Financial benefit – Of course, for businesses, if staff work from home more then there could be cost savings for space, furniture, electricity, water etc. Enabling staff to work from home can therefore have a positive effect on your bottom-line.
Perceived disadvantages of working from home
As well as the advantages, there are also some disadvantages that your business should consider and be aware of:
Reduced productivity – Whilst productivity can improve for highly motivated and success-driven employees, for others, it can diminish. However, this shouldn’t ruin the opportunity for everyone else. It’s important to trust that employees will make the right decisions for themselves and for the business. There are also various measures you can put in place to monitor progress, to ensure employees don’t take advantage of this flexibility.
Lack of collaboration – Many businesses can be concerned that there will be less collaboration between remote workers. However, there are many tools that can help to increase this, so businesses can still discuss ideas and react quickly to business and industry changes.
Takes longer to make decisions – It can naturally be assumed that without face to face meetings, it can take much longer to make decisions. However, this really doesn’t have to be the case. Employees can still visit the office, or meetings can be held virtually.
How to manage working from home effectively
It’s important to recognise that some jobs lend themselves better to working from home than others. However, it’s not surprising that employees who work in digital and technical roles are most likely to work remotely. It’s also reported by IBM’s 2014 whitepaper that the more senior you are, the more likely you are to work from home.
Getting started can be easy. With many employees already having laptops rather than desktops, they’re virtually ready to go. VPN should also be set up, to enable the employee to access all their work files. However, there are several other things to consider, to manage working from home effectively, so it provides you with the maximum benefit:
Support communication – The ability to communicate effectively is crucial to your business success. Having employees working from home can therefore seem like a negative step. However, you could rotate days when certain workers are in the office, schedule mandatory times when employees must work from the office, or make maximum use of technology. Tools such as Skype and Google Hangouts can allow you to have virtual meetings, from anywhere in the world. Plus, an intranet or internal blog can help to keep employees informed of the latest internal news.
Enable collaboration – To stay agile, it’s important for businesses to be able to share ideas and rapidly adapt to business and industry changes. There are many collaboration tools such as Dropbox, Slack and Yammer that your business should consider investing in.
Invest in project management tools – As a manager, keeping track of staff when they’re away from the office becomes even harder. Therefore, project management tools such as Trello can become invaluable. Not only can you organise work, you can see the progress of projects, assign tasks, start discussions and much more.
Keep employees motivated – A downside to employees not working in the office is that you’re not there to help keep their spirits high. However, it’s still possible to motivate staff with regular catch-ups. Also, working from home doesn’t have to be 5 days a week, so you can encourage staff to still get valuable face time with colleagues.
Train managers – It requires a different set of skills to supervise a remote team compared to an office-based team. It’s therefore important to support managers and train them on how to reap the benefits from remote workers.
Improvements in technology are a huge driving force behind working from home. As technology continues to develop, working from home is likely to become even easier, more effective, and more accessible to even more jobs.
Is it time for your business to expand its office boundaries by enabling employees to work from home? Tweet us @Consortia.
Consortia are a specialist digital, data and tech recruitment agency, specialising in sourcing both permanent and contract talent across all industries. We have offices in London and Bristol and work with some of the most innovative brands, nationally and internationally.
Whether you’ve got a vacancy you need filling, or you’re job hunting, please get in touch with us, where one of our skilled recruitment consultants will be happy to help.