Remote working is one of those concepts that has always been on the edge of becoming a regular everyday thing, but has never quite become a universal way of working.
As we move into 2017, though, is having a fully remote workforce more of a reality?
What is remote working?
Back in the 2000s, the idea of working from home was an unknown concept. The technology wasn’t there to really make it a viable option, and culturally it just wasn’t seen as a thing that people did in business.
Fast forward to the present day and everything has changed! With advances in cloud technology, internet communications and internet speed, anyone with an internet connection can now work from home with relative ease.
The old school 9 till 5 in the office culture seems to be slowly changing due to a younger more tech savvy workforce coming to fruition. And in fact, more employers are finding a remote workforce is breeding innovation and creativity.
How is a fully remote workforce a possibility?
10 years ago working from home was still a rarity for most people. Even though an internet connection was a common thing for a household to have, the ability to access your work as well as being able to hold meetings with your co workers was difficult to set up and manage.
However, in the last few years, cloud based platforms like Microsoft 365 have become a must have for companies. An entire workforce can have access to all of the company’s documents and projects all in one place. Employees can make live edits to documents and collaborate with other employees in a quick and easy way.
But what about meetings and calls?
Video calling and conferencing software now enable people to set up meetings from anywhere, even on their mobile phones. It’s not a necessity anymore that the whole workforce has to be at the office in person. Phone calls can be made over the internet or routed to mobile phones so that employees are constantly connected, wherever they may be.
It’s not just the odd day a week out of the office either. Many new startups are ditching bricks and mortar altogether! Work based social media platforms like Slack and, believe it or not, Workplace by Facebook, allow companies to ditch the physical office for the digital one, and in fact 77% of Fortune 100 companies are using Slack now. Not too sure about this paragraph – can you remove the product names maybe?
What are the real ‘business’ pros and cons of remote working?
It’s all well and good saying that remote working can increase innovation and creativity in employees, but what about companies who are all about the numbers and cost?
The good news is that remote working can actually save a business a lot on overheads, especially new businesses. If you have a fully remote workforce then you may not need to pay as much rent on an office space or any other associated costs, like furniture or utilities.
Traveling long distances to meet clients can be costly but with remote working you can set up conference calls with ease, saving you money on travelling costs. A study by the Harvard Business Review found that 87 percent of remote workers feel more connected through the use of video conferencing.
However, there could be negatives associated with remote working.
Working remotely is all about trust. Trust that the employee will perform tasks in the same way that they would in an office. If you don’t trust that your employees will perform their job adequately then it will be impossible to have a fully functioning remote workforce.
Alternatively, working from home can make some employees feel alienated and isolated from the business; that’s why it’s important that a remote workforce has regular contact and connectivity with co workers be that at a physical office or via video, calls and chat.
Is remote working the future of business?
It’s easy to see how remote working can really work for a business, especially a new business and really, it comes down to the type of business and the size.
Obviously with a new business it’s really easy to implement a remote system because everything is new and there aren’t many processes in place. Whereas a well established bigger company will find it more difficult, at first, to implement a remote system for field based and home working employees.
A robust 68 per cent of job seekers who are millennials said an option to work remotely would greatly increase their interest in specific employers, according to a survey by AfterCollege.
It’s likely that in the future we will see remote working start to really break into business culture. With a millennial based workforce starting to emerge, work based social media platforms will take off and video and conferencing will be a common feature for most businesses.
If you would like to find out how we can help you implement your own remote systems, then make sure you get in touch here.