Long gone are the days of having to be stuck behind a desk and confined to an office, now we have the potential freedom to work from our homes, our local coffee shop or even our favourite holiday destination! Remote working has provided us with a whole new working world where we can be flexible during our working day, with more than 4 million UK workers now working remotely! Employers now have the option of allowing their employees to work from home, trusting them to use their time productively.
So what is remote working?
Remote working refers to working from home, it involves using emails, phone as well as cloud and remote computer access to communicate with your company and/or clients. In today's digital age there is the ability to be online from near enough anywhere, you are not limited as to where you choose to work as long as you have a mobile device and an internet connection! According to stats published by the software and service provider CIPHR 91% of British firms now have at least one employee working from home, with 70% of office workers saying that they feel it is important for businesses to allow their employees to work remotely.
What are the cons of having employees working from home?
• Remote workers may not feel part of a team-Lack of face-to-face communication may have a negative effect on employees who are working from home. This is because it can prevent them from building relationships with their colleagues due to them not being around on a day-to-day basis, resulting in them feeling less of a part of the team.
• Communications being 'lost in translation'-If you have an employee who is working remotely, therefore communicating mainly via email and their colleagues are more familiar communicating face to face you could run the risk of understanding being lost in translation. Communicating face-to-face can lower the risk of any meaning being misunderstood, you can also discuss and resolve any issues directly.
• Difficulty in monitoring productivity-Having your employees working in one place means it is far easier to keep track of who is doing what and when they are doing it. If anything did happen to go wrong during the working day you know who to hold accountable, it is far more difficult to do this with employees who are working remotely.
What are the pros of having employees working from home?
• More productive employees-Working from home allows employees to feel a lot more comfortable which has a positive effect on their work performance. Being away from the hustle and bustle of the working environment means there are a lot less distractions so productivity levels rise due to workers being more focused.
• Reduction in employee turnover-You will be met with a far happier work force giving them the option to work from home. Employees will know an employer has put their trust in them by allowing them to work from home, leading to them feeling a high level of loyalty to the company resulting in lower levels of staff turnover.
• Job satisfaction will improve-Flexible working hours and the ability to work remotely is a huge incentive for a vast number of employees. Giving your workers the option to work from home will reassure them they are working for the right company and will be enthusiastic to do their job each day to the best of their ability.
A happy worker is a productive worker!
What measures can be put in place to ensure remote workers are working effectively and efficiently?
• Create transparency, ensure each employee is accountable for their own actions
• Agree and set out clear guidelines as to what is expected of each employee ,put deadlines in place for tasks expected of your workforce
• It can be difficult to track how many hours are put into specific tasks those working remotely are doing, so measure their productivity based on their output rather than hours worked
• Incorporate time management skills when training staff and reinforce the importance of applying these skills
• Make sure all remote workers have access to relevant files and databases and are set up on the office network to guarantee they can effectively carry out work remotely
• Either using the phone, via email or conducting video calls (Skype is excellent for this) maintain regular contact with remote workers
There are both positive and negative elements when it comes to remote working but there are measures you can put in place to keep these negatives to a minimum. Remote working is not beneficial to everyone, or fitting for all industries and sectors, but we will continue to see a rise in the number of employees working remotely over the coming years. It is believed that by 2020 70% of UK workers will be working from home!