By 2020, half of the world’s workers will be remote workers. That’s according to a survey at the Global Leadership Summit in London. Over the course of the next five years, we’re going to see some big changes. Not every business will keep pace; some will fail.
The global economic crisis continues to put financial pressure on companies, and smaller businesses are still finding it difficult to raise capital. Now more than ever, remote working could be the answer if your business is finding it hard to adapt.
Benefits of Working Remotely
Employees are looking for a good work-life balance, and that means changing the way they work. People don’t want to travel at rush hour with everybody else. They don’t want to put their kids into after-school clubs if they can avoid it. As the world’s best employers offer more flexible working, the world’s best employees will follow.
Sir Richard Branson, owner of the Virgin group, is a vocal supporter of flexible working, and says that remote access is making this easier. Virgin employees can take unlimited holiday leave, providing their productivity is not affected. That means taking time off when you’re not needed, and being around when you are. Richard himself works remotely from Necker Island, a career move that would have been unthinkable before the internet became so widespread.
While we can’t all work from a Caribbean beach, the benefits of remote working can be felt on a smaller scale when working from home. Freedom to choose when to work, where to work, and when to take breaks; the chance to get fresh air, spend more time with the family, or cut back the daily commute. Far from being less productive, remote workers get more rest, are more energised, and feel more connected with their home life, helping them achieve that work-life balance they so crave.
The company gets its share of the benefits too: a workforce willing to work, and staff that enjoy collaboration. Rather than forcing people to fit the company mould, giving them the tools they need to work anywhere means work will often ‘just happen’.
Make it a Reality
You don’t need to have complex infrastructure to let people work remotely. But you do need to invest in modern services that help keep people connected.
Here are some ways to free up your employees and let them work wherever they like:
- To ensure everyone has access to the right software and data, purchase hosted desktops rather than a fleet of laptops
- Issue everyone with a smartphone capable of 4G connection, plus a tablet that can be tethered to it
- Use hosted Exchange email so that employees can access their messages from anywhere, free from the size restrictions of an on-premise Exchange mailbox
- Invest in VoIP telephony, project management tools in the cloud, and use video conferencing in place of lengthy on-site meetings
All of these things are affordable to small businesses, helping to keep costs down and ensure the company stays competitive.
By kitting out the workforce with cloud services and relevant support, they can access company data in a secure, compliant and speedy manner, without a break in productivity or an increase in IT spend. The reality is this: if you don’t wise up to remote working, your business could be overtaken by the dynamic, youthful competitors just waiting to steal your thunder.