2020 Adapt, Evolve, Grow – Adapting to flexible ways of working
The Challenges of the new world of work and how to overcome them – Adapting to flexible ways of working
It’s safe to say that 2020 has presented challenges to all businesses, across all sectors, in one form or another. Whether this has meant physically adapting workplaces to ensure they are COVID-safe, operating under severe capacity restrictions or exploring new technologies that enable remote working; 2020 has been plain sailing for very few of us.
While the summer saw a degree of normality return (particularly to office life), it’s clear we aren’t out of the woods yet. This means it’s important for firms to keep their options open in terms of how they can operate. It means ensuring operational agility – having the tools and processes in place to enable the easy transition to remote working without too much turbulence should further restrictions on working life be reintroduced.
In the current climate, preparedness may be the main the driving factor behind the adoption of new technologies, but as working from home has become so common this year (with around 50% of the UK workforce working remotely in April) many employers and employees alike are discovering the benefits of the practice.
The benefits and potential pitfalls of remote working
Working remotely has very slowly risen in popularity throughout the first 20 years of this century, and during this time, studies have shown the practice to benefit both employers and employees in various ways.
- Increased Productivity. In many cases working away from the hubbub of the office can result in fewer distractions and therefore greater productivity – contrary to the popular belief that working from home results in less work getting done.
- Improved employee retention. Employees won’t necessarily have to leave your company if they move further away and the flexibility afforded by remote working will prove attractive to many (particularly millennials).
- Lower Absence rates. Remote working has been shown to have a positive effect on rates of absence. It’s believed that less commuting may have some effect on rates of sickness and with employees able to work from the comfort of their homes they may feel less inclined to take the day off when they don’t feel their best.
- Lower overheads. Remote working reduces the number of workstations required and may therefore reduce the size of the office your company needs, saving your business money. Additionally, allowing employees to use their own devices for work can result in substantial hardware savings.
- The ability to hire staff from further afield. By putting effective remote working structures in place you’ll have the potential to cast the net wider in future talent searches and hire staff who’d normally be outside commuting range. No longer will you have to rule out excellent candidates due to them living beyond your reach.
- Lower (or eliminated) commuting costs. The weekly commute can be a huge financial burden for many employees. Even partial remote working can allow staff to dramatically reduce this overhead.
- Improved mental health. Some studies have shown that working from the familiarity of home can have a profoundly positive effect on mental health.
- Improved work/life balance. Schedule flexibility is the most appealing aspect of remote working cited by workers who enjoy the practice. A US survey revealed that a massive 98% of employees would like to retain the option of working remotely in some capacity, so giving your team the option to do so is likely to prove popular.
While the benefits of remote working are numerous, many company bosses continue to express several concerns when it comes to moving away from traditional office-based work. Some of these include:
- Reduced focus and productivity. Without the proper tools and structures in place, maintaining control of a remote workforce and ensuring productivity can seem like an impossible task.
- Erosion of company culture. With reduced face-to-face contact, managers often worry that remote working will make it harder to promote the company’s culture and shared values.
- Reduced team cohesion. Remote working and effective collaboration and often viewed an incompatible concept. With a dispersed workforce working to flexible schedules bosses often worry that coordinating group tasks will be more of a struggle.
- Data security. Concerns over the security of sensitive corporate data are often cited as a barrier to remote working. With staff having the ability to work from almost any location on a variety of devices, remaining in control of sensitive data is undoubtedly more challenging with a remote team.
- The upheaval. Many businesses are daunted by the challenge of transitioning to more flexible ways of working, believing that the change required presents too much hassle.
- Many businesses struggle with the concept of allowing employees to work in settings where they have limited managerial oversight. Some fear remote working will blur the boundaries between work and leisure time resulting in dramatically diminished work output.
Empower your remote team, stay in control, remain agile and resilient
Thankfully, working remotely has never been so easy. Over the last decade or so, largely thanks to the rise of Cloud computing, the tech sector has been busy developing a huge range of solutions which tackle the various challenges that remote workforces’ encounter. From cloud-based software suites such as Microsoft 365 which come packed with features to enable remote working, to technical solutions such as hosted VoIP, giving your team the tools to work from home effectively has never been simpler.
In the following blogs, we’ll explore some of these new solutions and showcases some of the benefits they could bring to your business both in the context of the current global crisis and beyond.
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