Woman sitting on the grass with a laptop - Remote working

Sorry Dolly, but the days of “Working 9 to 5” in an office are numbered. Employees are swapping their office desks for the comfort of their own home. Improvements in technology and the advancements made in cloud services such as Office 365, Dropbox and iCloud to name just a few, now allow businesses to operate efficiently without the need to host all employees on site every day. Remote working is becoming increasingly popular and can offer numerous benefits for both employers and employees. And, in the very near future it may be the only option for certain local businesses facing challenges caused by Brexit uncertainty.

What could remote working do for your business?

It was just four years ago the Port of Calais closed for more than three days as a result of a MyFerryLink staff strike which left thousands of lorries queued for miles on the M20 motorway. Gridlock on the M20 caused serious disruption to UK businesses, as staff were unable to make their way into work, and it’s estimated that the chaos cost the UK economy around £1 billion.

Now with Brexit on the horizon, there are growing concerns that there may be a sustained period of heavy congestion around the Channel and Channel Tunnel, which could potentially see the same chaotic issues arise again.

With growing concerns over this, we must ask: are businesses prepared for the same potential disruption, and what can they do to minimise the impact? The short to mid-term answer may be to accommodate effective remote working for employees.

Cost savings are always a priority for businesses of any size and keeping spending to a minimum is first on the agenda, but it’s not always so easy to do in the current economic climate. Housing even a small team in an office involves numerous outgoings and monthly overheads. There’s buying or leasing the office space and monthly bills of the premises itself, not to mention reimbursing staff travel expenses, parking, and technology requirements.

Remote working can offer a considerable reduction on some of these office outgoings.

Additionally, without a designated office space, there is a greater opportunity for companies to recruit new employees from a geographically wider talent pool, offering a better skillset. This can be particularly attractive for businesses who struggle to fill or retain staff in certain roles.

High staff turnover is often the case for businesses that struggle with lack of morale and productivity within the workplace – two major points of the remote working discussion. Does remote working really lift morale and improve productivity? Whilst paranoid managers might argue that working from the comforts of your own home can’t possibly encourage higher employee productivity, numerous studies would prove otherwise. One study found that remote working does in fact make a higher percentage of employees feel happier, more engaged and satisfied. In turn, this improves churn rates and saves on recruitment and training costs.

Productivity is a key driver of business success, as RAND Europe reveal that poor productivity in the UK workforce costs the economy £40.2 billion. Employers want the best for their staff, but they also want the best for their business, so perhaps remote working is the gateway to that happy-medium.

As great as it all sounds, how can businesses succeed with remote working and make it work? The answer is quite simple: good communication, support and self-discipline. Technology is ever-changing, and there are now numerous video and conferencing tools available including FaceTime, Skype, Google Hangouts and Slack. Moreover, online training resources are better than ever, with the likes of LinkedIn Learning and Udemy. There really is no excuse for businesses to not consider remote working where possible.

There is a growing demand for remote working, and it’s estimated that 50 percent of the UK workforce will work remotely by 2020 if the current growth remains at the same rate. So, will your business be taking advantage of the opportunities remote working presents?

Cantium can help your business achieve effective and efficient remote working for teams of all sizes.

Our innovative IT solutions tailored to your business’ needs, ensure your employees have the technology and resources required to get their job done, regardless of location.

Read about our work with Woodland Academy Trust here, which enables them to access their key management systems from anywhere whilst bringing together their offices across multiple counties.