According to one UK survey, 9 in 10 CEOs plan on retaining at least some element of working from home (WFH) as a long-term feature. The potential upside of WFH (e.g. higher productivity and lower overheads) is a compelling prospect for any employer. But of course, the pitfalls are real too.
Here’s a rundown of the benefits of remote working, as well as the risks to guard against.
The paranoid attitude to remote working is that it gives the green light for slacking. The evidence shows something different. In fact, one major study of 16,000 employees found that WFH can bring about a productivity boost equivalent to one extra working day each week.
Without a timewasting commute and the distractions of the office, it seems staff are more focused on core tasks, and they get more done. A word of warning though: as you’ll see below, you need the right technical and support framework in place to achieve a productivity boost.
Who are your most effective employees? When everyone is based on-site, it’s easy to overestimate the value of certain behaviours. For instance, just because particular workers always stay late or seem to look busy, it’s not necessarily a reliable performance indicator.
Remote working usually brings about a change in management focus. Clocking on times are no longer as relevant. There’s less micromanagement, and more analysis of outcomes, such as workload progress and the quality of work produced. All of this can encourage more accurate, unbiased performance measurement.
Cost-wise, there can be a big difference in housing a permanent on-site staff of 100+, compared, say, to allowing the bulk of those employees to work remotely some or all of the time.
Remote working is definitely something to consider if you are looking to rein in your overheads and reduce your property footprint.
On the whole, WFH is a morale booster for employees. It leaves them better able to manage their personal commitments, with less stress and more free time.
So it’s no surprise that workers actively seek out potential employers who offer remote working as a perk. In fact, according to Total Jobs, 28% of UK employees would change jobs for one that offered remote working. To boost recruitment and encourage retention, without necessarily increasing salary levels, WFH is a big draw.
With scattered workforces, it can be that much harder to maintain team cohesiveness. Indeed, workers themselves often complain of feeling isolated if working from home over a prolonged period. Onboarding is another sticking point: if new starters are physically separated from their peers and managers, it’s more difficult to train them in your preferred way of doing things.
With all those portable devices and home wifi connections in play, your cybersecurity ‘attack surface’ becomes that much bigger. In fact, more than three quarters of IT leaders think that their company is at a greater risks of threats such as phishing and insider fraud if staff are based at home.
Proper training, remote device management, antivirus, firewalls, access controls, along with an up-to-date recovery plan: these are all essential.
We’ve seen how WFH can result in a productivity boost – but this doesn’t happen by accident. If you supply your staff with sub-optimal hardware, if access to assets is unreliable or if connectivity is patchy, the impact on productivity will inevitably be negative.
How do you take advantage of the undeniable benefits of WFH, while eliminating the cons? For one thing, a blended approach can make perfect sense; i.e. enabling your workers to switch between office and home to get the best of both worlds.
The right support is essential, too. That’s why you should pay close attention to Storm-in-a-Box; our new WFH-friendly support package. It equips your staff with the hardware, software, security, cloud storage and IT support they need for one simple monthly fee per-user. Interested? Discover more here.