October 27, 2015

As more and more businesses look for ways to boost employee satisfaction, increase staff retention and gain a competitive edge, a growing number of companies are turning to flexible and remote working.

In fact, figures from the Office of National Statistics suggest that more people are working remotely than ever before, with 13.9% of workers ditching the office and working from home instead.

Not only can flexible and remote working enable employees to work from the comfort of their own sofa, it can also allow them to progress their careers while improving their work-life balance. In order to ensure remote working lives up to the hype, businesses need to do plenty of research and planning before sending employees home. In this post we’ll look at the pros and cons of remote working, while taking inspiration from some of the companies that have already put it into practice.

According to Inc Magazine, remote workers are almost twice as likely to work beyond 40 hours a week and are 20% more productive when they get given creative projects remotely

Remote Working | Cloud Services

10 Remote Working Stats

  1. According to the Office of National Statistics 13.9% of workers work remotely
  2. 5% work from home while 8.9% work at different locations
  3. Homeworkers are typically paid £13.23 per hour compared to the average wage of £10.50
  4. Kenexa research found that those aged 36-45 are most likely to work from home
  5. The same research suggests workers are most likely to work remotely if they’ve been with their company for 3-5 years
  6. According to Inc Magazine, remote workers are almost twice as likely to work beyond 40 hours a week and are 20% more productive when they get given creative projects remotely
  7. When given the flexibility to control where and when they work, employees gain an extra hour of sleep each week and become more attentive and alert, according to Penn State University
  8. A study has revealed that commuting can have a negative impact on a worker’s anxiety levels, happiness and personal wellbeing
  9. An economic experiment has revealed that people are thought to work 12% harder when they’re happy
  10. While an increasing number of companies are embracing remote working, Google and Yahoo both prefer employees to be in the office. When asked ‘how many people telecommute at Google?’ Google’s CFO Patrick Piche replied ‘As few as possible.’

By abandoning the office environment, productivity can increase and employees can often manage their work-life balance more effectively than ever before.

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Successful remote businesses

With employees benefiting from free Kindle Paperwhites and flexible working hours, over recent years, Buffer has built a reputation for being a forward-thinking business with great culture. The start-up has now taken its relaxed and friendly attitude one step further by ditching its office completely and allowing its team of 50 people to work remotely from anywhere in the world.

CEO Joel Gascoigne has cited numerous benefits to this new workplace culture shift. By abandoning the office environment, productivity has increased and employees are able to manage their work-life balance more effectively than ever before. The company has also benefited from numerous financial perks after eliminating overhead costs such as office rent and bills.

Buffer isn’t the only company embracing remote working. Tech giant Apple allows many employees to work remotely as customer support agents. Workers are provided with an iMac and headset to use from home and they’re taught everything they need to know via online programmes and training courses. While this may sound like a dream-come-true for tech lovers, Apple stresses that this is by no means a casual position. Customer support agents must be confident, self-motivated and disciplined. They must also have access to a quiet, distraction-free work space with a door that can be shut.

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The benefits of working remotely

Since embracing remote working, Groove’s founder Alex Turnbull, has seen numerous positive changes for both business and employees.

Attract better talent and reduce recruitment costs

When he originally started looking for developers to join his team, Alex really struggled to find those with the skills required in his area. However, when he widened his search and started accepting applications from talented developers from further afield, he was inundated with interest.

Alex says: “The searches for those team members were relatively short compared to the six-week-or-more recruiting campaigns we’d undergo to hire a single employee at my last startup.”

The Groove team have a 15-minute team call every Monday morning which gives employees an opportunity to share their accomplishments from the previous week, while discussing goals and challenges for the week ahead.

Happier employees

Nothing can stunt the growth of a company like an unhappy, tired and overworked team. By making sure employees are satisfied and energised, productivity can be boosted and staff may even be able to achieve their goals faster and harness better results.

According to Alex, remote working has enabled him to do just that. The Groove team have a 15-minute team call every Monday morning which gives employees an opportunity to share their accomplishments from the previous week, while discussing goals and challenges for the week ahead.

If technology fails, the whole team won’t lose productivity

If the internet goes down or there’s a power failure in an office environment, productivity levels can drop amongst the entire team, leaving everyone unable to work. However, if everyone is spread out across a number of locations, when one person suffers a technical issue, it’s likely that others can ‘hold the fort’ until the individual is back up and running again.

A reduction in overheads

As every business owner will know, whether you rent or own your office space, it’s far from cheap and the cost of such overhead costs can equate to a significant percentage of your outgoings.

When a business goes fully remote and ditches furniture, electricity, equipment and internet access, significant savings can be made. In order to successfully manage a remote team, a business may need to invest in a series of tools to enable the whole team to collaborate effectively from home. However, the cost of these tools is sure to be significantly lower than those associated with an office environment. Every pound saved on overheads is a pound that can be reinvested in the growth of your business and employees.

When a business goes fully remote and ditches furniture, electricity, equipment and internet access, significant savings can be made.

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How to make remote working…work!

Although remote working can have countless benefits, in order to get it right and ensure the team stays productive and satisfied in their roles, substantial planning is required.

Communication is perhaps the most important part of making remote working work. You’ll still need to discuss ideas and targets on a regular basis, collaborate on projects, and share important information just as you would in a traditional workplace environment. In order to get the most of your new remote working project, we recommend embracing cloud storage and using tools such as Google Drive, Trello, HipChat, and Sqwiggle. Such resources should make it easier to communicate with one another, store files, and continue business as usual.

Self-discipline is another important consideration. Even some of the most hardworking employees can find themselves procrastinating when faced with so much freedom and flexibility. If this problem arises, try not to be too hard on your employees. After all, after years of working in an office environment, flexible/remote working may seem like a shock to the system. Stay in touch with your employees on a regular basis and, if someone is finding the new system a challenge, work together to find a solution. Set regular targets which must be met and have a weekly team meeting to assess progress and discuss the week ahead.

If you’d like to learn more about how technology can help make your workplace more flexible and increase the satisfaction of your employees, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team at Synextra.