As remote work becomes more common in almost every industry, business leaders are faced with a lot of tough decisions. How do you know if remote work is right for your business? If it is, how do you control everything that comes with it? I’ll go over 5 questions you need to ask yourself before coming to a decision, and also discuss some best practices that need to be put in place so you can have an efficient and responsible remote workforce.
In some cases this comes down to what industry you’re in. If all applications and technologies are also available when you are remote, then there’s no issue. On the other hand, if you are a receptionist who needs to meet people at a front desk, then it just isn’t possible to do your job remotely. Unless we get to a point where receptionists are on a TV screen at the desk, which I guess is possible, but hopefully we don’t get to that point.
Telecommuting can offer savings on rent and office space. If you are growing, there might be an opportunity to try out remote work instead of acquiring more space.
If everyone lives in the same town with an easy commute, then remote work might be more trouble than it’s worth. However if you live in a congested area or have a long commute, the time/money savings of remote work may be dramatic.
This is a question that often is not considered. What kind of staff do you have? High quality, highly engaged staff may even be more productive from home. Less engaged staff may find it even more of a struggle to remain focused at home.
If so, then keeping staff accountable for their output might be MORE productive than just keeping them accountable for showing up to an office. However, if work is more fluid, adhoc or lacks easy ways to measure productivity, then keeping tabs on performance remotely can be more difficult.
Surprisingly, only one-third of employees are engaged at work. With that, the modern workforce is also not afraid to change jobs. People look for perks, and will often change jobs for those perks alone. Flexibility in when and where they work is one of the most desirable perks. That is even more surprising considering there are studies that show people actually work more hours when they work from home. The ability to disconnect goes away when these technologies are in place. Instead of leaving the workplace and unplugging, you might find yourself lying in bed at night replying to emails. Or even up extra early working when you would usually just be getting dressed for work.
Gallup put together a State of the American Workplace Report 2017 that stated it is ideal for employees to spend 60-80 percent of their time working remotely. So spending all hours remotely isn’t the answer because it can create a bad culture for where you work. You’re not as engaged with your colleagues and sometimes the feeling of teamwork isn’t there. But some hours remotely increases productivity.
Finally, there can be massive impacts to not only the businesses but also the planet we live on. Another study (www.undress4success.com) shows that about 40% of jobs can be performed from home. If all of these jobs were implemented remotely, they would save 587 million barrels of oil, 101 million tons of CO2, and $52 billion in gas. Not only that but the time commuting, an average of 26 days worth, could equal an extra 5 weeks of vacation per year. And there are businesses that literally save hundreds of millions of dollars on real estate alone.
It’s up to you to decide if your company and staff could not only handle but benefit from remotely working. Remote work can improve employee retention and productivity. But it can also backfire if you don’t have a well thought out plan. Highly effective organizations have the right tools, technologies and policies to execute remote access and then monitor effectiveness of their remote work plan.
Mike graduated from Monmouth University with a communications degree. He has been with Domain Computer Services for two years, successfully advising prospective clients on the IT services their businesses need to succeed. He understands the value of Domain’s technology solutions and the necessity of real IT advice. Mike may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.