It’s a fierce debate that’s at the forefront of everybody’s minds, as we’re trying to navigate what the future of work looks like. The pandemic marks a pivotal moment in our history, and has changed our working landscape, but will this last forever?
With organisations returning to the office, including Workday®, we’ve already taken a look at whether remote or office working is best for your employees (you can catch up on that one here). Now we'll weigh up the pros and cons of remote working through the eyes of the business.
Let’s talk logistics. Having a permanent office space comes with high monetary costs and size limitations. The costs of rent, service charges and energy can be extortionate, particularly in prime locations. Your growth in numbers is also limited to the space you have, so careful forecasting and planning is needed to ensure you have the legroom you need to keep up with the growth of your business. Having your employees work remotely can help combat this issue, particularly when there are plenty of options available to you now. You can rent desks, meeting rooms and entire office spaces on a daily, or even hourly, rate. You could consider co-working spaces. You could even set up a virtual office, where you’ll still have a registered business address, the option to use meeting rooms, and have your post managed, with very low subscription costs. It’s something to consider if you need to assess the operational costs of your business.
You’ll need to make some changes to your infrastructure to ensure that your employees can work safely from home. However, with the number of products and platforms, like Workday®, available to you, this can be a solid investment for your business. The technology you can employ to facilitate remote working has advanced so rapidly, you might find that making the change aids your corporate growth and aligns your output with your business goals.
In terms of human factors, there are plenty of benefits to offering your employees remote working. When it comes to hiring talent, your pool just became an ocean. Imagine if your requirements for a role weren’t based on proximity to an office? You’d be able to consider candidates not just from other parts of the country, you could extend your search globally, making it much easier to find the experience and skill set you need. Even if you offer a hybrid model, plenty of potential employees are prepared to travel, sometimes across borders, if you only require them to do this occasionally.
How does remote working affect productivity? You might be worried that your employees have more distractions at home, or might procrastinate more than when they’re in the office. In fact, recent studies and reports have found the opposite. In general, those who work remotely at least some of the time get more work done in less time when working from home (WFH).
In addition, you might find that cutting out commutes to the office reduces your levels of absenteeism. Research has shown that the longer the commute, the higher the sickness absence rate. If you offer to remove a lengthy commute from the equation, and support remote working, you might find employees go off sick less, and don’t miss work hours due to transport delays and inclement weather, among other things. This will also help with employee satisfaction.
On the subject of employee satisfaction, if you want to retain your staff, flexibility is key. For many, remote working may have been forced upon them during the pandemic, but the general consensus now is that WFH can improve work/life balance and mental health. If you ask your staff to return to the office full-time, you’d be removing the flexibility they’ve become accustomed to. Organisations are made up of the people who work for them, so ensuring your employees are content at work is paramount. Keeping remote working on the table will help you hold onto your staff. In such a candidate-short market, this couldn’t be more important at present.
You may make some huge operational savings through remote working, but you will need to invest in the technology we discussed above. It is, as stated, an investment, however. You’ll need to think about potentially moving legacy systems to cloud-based platforms, and consider the security measures you need to employ to ensure you’re not at risk of cyber threats when your employees work remotely. Is their Wi-Fi network secure? If they decide to work elsewhere for the day, such as a café, are they handling confidential information in a public place? You’ll also need to think about the communication technology available and what will meet the needs of your business. If your employees work remotely, it’s important to address these issues if you haven’t already.
Another required investment will be in the hardware you need to set your employees up from home. Laptops, monitors, keyboards, desks, chairs and other office equipment need to be budgeted for. Will you offer a home office allowance? If you don’t, can you ensure your employee can work remotely in a comfortable and safe environment? If you do offer an allowance, can you continue offering the same to all new recruits? Careful budgeting and forecasting is very important.
If you decide to hire a fully remote employee, the legalities of having employees in different countries, or even states, will come into play. Have you considered tax, social security/national insurance, immigration law, employment law, data protection law, medical insurance, liability etc.? It might take some time and effort, and potentially some expert advice, to ensure you’re fully compliant.
Lastly, you need to consider relationships at work. It can be more challenging to manage a team completely remotely, and your employees might not be able to form the depth of relationships they would if they had regular face-to-face contact. Consider whether your company culture and values will be as prominent if your staff are remote. Ask yourself how well you can implement the adoption of these in your employees, and how important this is for the success of your business.
There are, of course, alternatives. You might find that fully remote isn’t the right path for your organisation, but working a hybrid model offers your employee the flexibility they need, while still aligning your business to its goals.
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