Since you started recruiting members of staff into your business, you’ve probably been asked the question: ‘can I work from home today?’ - whether it’s due to illness or family obligations, flexible working is becoming the norm and businesses are starting to wave goodbye to the standard eight-hour working day. Did you know? It was back in 1914 when Henry Ford introduced the first 9-5 working day, so maybe we’re due for a change when it comes to working patterns.
According to a survey conducted by FlexJob, 50% of employees said they accomplished more when working from home and a different study reported that a typical office worker only gets 11 minutes between distractions - that’s pretty frequent.
If you were to breakdown how many out of eight hours each day you solidly worked for - you’d probably realise that your day in the office isn’t very productive at all.
If you’re torn between wanting to make your employees happy and making sure your business still runs as productively as possible, we’re going to help you weigh up your options when it comes to implementing a ‘work from home’ - or ‘remote working’ policy.
Advantages of working from home
We thought we’d dive straight into the pros working from home can offer both your business and your employees - after all, it’s a two-way street, so it needs to work for your staff and your bottom line, alike!
Advantages for employees
A distraction-free environment. Although there are many distractions in the home environment (Netflix, to name just one) - there are fewer distractions from colleagues. No chatting, no phone calls - it’s a quieter and more productive space.
The commute time is cut down to zero. Hurrah - no longer do your employees have to sit staring at the tail-end of a car on a motorway. Instead, they can roll out of bed (getting some extra sleep in the process) and start working feeling less stressed.
They’ll be happier. Working from home gives employees a better sense of work-life balance that is so avidly sought after now. Offering your employees the chance to spend more time in both the morning and the evening with their families is an excellent benefit to any job.
Advantages for your company
It decreases your overheads. Heating a large office for eight hours a day, five days a week - doesn’t come cheap. If you still would rather keep an office space as a base for your company (maybe you have clients visiting you), then why not downsize? You can stagger the working patterns between employees, so you always have an office presence, but your employees get some time each week to work from the comfort of their home.
Are you looking for more ways to save money? Check out our money-saving tips.
No more wasted time. A Productivity in the Workplace report, commissioned by Red Letter Days For Business found that 46% of employees stated ‘meetings that go on for too long’ was the top area that restricts them from doing their job well. 21% of recipients said another area that limited them was a micromanaging boss.
These are two of the restrictions working from home can help combat.
Makes you more desirable to new employees. Perks are expected from company to company now - even if it’s just to keep up with your competition. Offering the chance to work from home is an incredibly desirable benefit. You can attract and hire top tier talent.
If you’re hoping to expand your business into new markets - having a remote workforce means you can also hire employees from around the world!
Skills needed to work from home
We’ve gathered the skills we believe you’d need when it comes to working from home. This section can help your employees understand whether remote working would suit their personality and their working style.
You need will power
It’s easy to put a load of washing on, hang it out to dry, sit down with a cup of tea and watch TV. You need discipline if you’re going to get through all your tasks for the day. Just remember, once you’re finished - you can watch all the telly you want.
You need to be comfortable with social isolation
It sounds dramatic, but if you’re going to be in the house all day, you’ll have no one to talk to. You won’t have your morning office chats about what you got up to the night before - but on the positive side, you won’t be distracted by all that, too.
You need to have initiative
Working from home means you can’t just pop over to someone’s desk to ask them a question. You need to be able to figure out everyday problems using your initiative. You can make contact with employees throughout the day via chat messengers and email - but it’s still not as easy to get hold of someone to get that answer to your question immediately.
You need to have excellent communication skills
If you don’t usually reply to emails in a timely fashion - working remotely might not be your cup of tea. As in a similar elk to the above point, you can’t just answer someone verbally in your office - you need to be good at updating worksheets and other team members on your progress, otherwise remote working just won’t pan out.
How to measure staff productivity when they work remotely
Measuring productivity can be a considerable worry for business owners just like you. How will you know if they take a three-hour lunch break? We’ve pulled together some top tips to help you measure staff productivity.
Set clear goals and deadlines
You should be setting clear goals and deadlines in your current business framework - it’s the best way to measure progress and productivity. If this isn’t something you currently implement, it needs to be a priority if you embrace remote working.
Without clear goals, you can’t measure progress - it’s as simple as that! When your staff work remotely, you shouldn’t be focusing on how many hours they’ve put into their day - it should be measured on performance and output. It’s impossible to tell if they’ve taken that long lunch break or skived off early - unless you install screen tracking software and we can all officially say we live in a real big brother world? How much time they spend working shouldn’t matter to you. The critical question is, are they delivering what you asked them to?
Invest in project management software
The general gist of a project management tool is to help both you and your employees build a productivity working day. They can be used to update team members on tasks, ask for help and advice and some enable employees to start a timer when they begin each task. This feature is particularly handy for agency-based businesses who bill their time to clients.
There are so many options out there now as businesses begin a shift to remote working. Some popular software out there includes:
But there are many more out there - you should take some time to analyse their features against pricing and see which one best suits your business.
Survey staff members
Asking your staff members for feedback regularly can help open your eyes to problems within your remote workforce. Asking employees anonymously to provide their honest feedback about how the team is working together is a great way to boost productivity. If you notice a pattern with the input - for example, three people have raised the same issue - it would be worth looking into to try and change processes for the better.
An anonymous survey is a great way to obtain honest feedback from your employees and should be carried out on a relatively consistent basis.
What type of business lends itself to a remote workforce?
If your business is factory-based - this is not a strategy to roll out across the workforce, but it could be well-suited to the marketing and sales team in this sector.
Any business who relies on email communication and every employee can access their work remotely - whether it’s logging in to an online portal or having specialist software downloaded onto their laptop or home computer - remote working is perfect for you.
If your business is:
- An agency specialising in marketing, sales, PR or design
- IT support
- Professional/consulting services
These are all sectors that can easily transition over to remote working. There are many other sectors, too - but it all depends on how your business operates. If your business mainly deals with client relationships over the phone or email and you don’t have many face-to-face sessions - then this is perfect for you.
If you did decide to make the switch across to a remote workforce and you did have a client meeting scheduled - there are many meeting room spaces for rental in most major UK cities. If you’re a member of the Chambers of Commerce, you do receive meeting room usage as part of your membership package - these are all alternative facility options for your business.
Are you looking to grow your business? If you are, we’re confident we’ve got the perfect financial solution for you. Here at Capalona, we help businesses of all sizes secure the capital they need to grow and bridge financial gaps caused by cash flow issues.