The stereotype of working 9 to 5 is no longer the standard weekly schedule of the British public. The routine of stepping into an office, grabbing a coffee and sitting at a desk for most of your working day has become out dated. According to Smallbusiness.co.uk “…half of the UK workforce will work remotely by 2020…” which will increase the opportunity to work flexible hours. This will help reduce work related stress caused by long commutes and office politics, which will positively benefit employee’s wellbeing.
Are you feeling the pressure from your employees to implement a remote working policy?
The flexibility to work remotely is a pressure that many companies are feeling. People don’t want to have to conform to the norm anymore, and with the ever-growing technology making it easier to ‘work on the go’, a rigid working structure does not have the same appeal. As an employer, I think if you want to get the best out of your team, you should provide flexible working to ensure your employees get the best out of their life as well as being a dedicated workforce to your organisation.
What issues should you be aware of when your employees work remotely?
The first word that normally comes to mind is ‘trust’. How do you trust your staff to complete all their work on time? Are they going to just catch up on the latest Netflix series? If you employ honest and hardworking people and dedicate time to work on your manager > employee relationships, you will find your employees enjoy putting their skills into practice and are happy to go above and beyond for you. The issue of ‘trust’ then shouldn’t come into play.
From an employee point of view, the predominant factor is the occasional sense of loneliness. Loneliness is not a trivial emotion, it can have huge impacts on an individual’s mental health, social skills and work ethic. We have 3 tips on how to minimise these issues and create a great place to work in the digital office:
1. Make the effort to talk to your team every day. There are many online platforms, such as skype, that make this possible or better still…pick up the phone!
2. Organise regular team days where all members of staff can get together and communicate face-to-face, whether it be about work or just a general catch up.
3. Create personal goals with every employee. Some goals should be related to personal development and some to help strengthen the business, this provides a sense of worth and involvement.
What are the first steps required to allow your workforce to work remotely?
It is good to remember there are many job roles where remote working is not possible. This could be because of confidential restrictions that prevent information being taken away from a given location or the equipment required is not easily transferable for every employee to have at home. Having said that, if your staff just need a computer and access to a central digital location then it is a very simple set up…
1. Invest in the right hardware – A laptop is ideal as it can be attached to a docking station and used with a larger monitor, as well as being small and light enough to use whilst on a train or taken to site meetings.
2. Research the optimum cloud-based server – We use Dropbox as it provides a large amount of storage and can be accessed from anywhere in the world. Some other popular cloud-based servers are: Microsoft Office 365, Egnyte, and Box.
3. Be transparent with your employees on what is acceptable and what is not. Make sure all parties know the expectations for working hours, methods of communication, and how to keep track of projects.
Do businesses still need a central office if remote working is implemented?
Yes! However, these spaces need to work harder to prove their worth. Rows and rows of desking no longer satisfies the modern office worker, nor does a strict working hours policy…we all know life can get in the way sometimes! Flexible working doesn’t mean working at your kitchen table or in your bedroom, it simply means you are not confined to one desk for every day of your working life.
It is proven that human interaction is good for our mental wellbeing, even if there is that one energy vampire in the office! Some people rely on the buzz of an office environment and enjoy that they don’t have to take their work home. Therefore, the need for offices is still apparent but it means companies can invest in smaller office footprints, suitable for a more hot-desking role. This will reduce business overheads, minimise road congestion, and give your employees a bit more freedom.
The decision to implement remote working into your business strategy can be a difficult and personal choice. It is important to understand that every person, in every job, likes to work in different ways – how do you figure out the best solution for everyone? The most common answer is a combination of remote working and the communal office space. Allowing your employees to have a balance between the two, gives them the best of both worlds!