Kiwili, Amazon, American Express, SAP, Salesforce. What do these companies all have in common? They all offer and support remote working, a.k.a. working from home.
Remote working, the good in the bad…
So, we’ve been thrown in at the deep end, a baptism of fire. Now, all those companies who stubbornly stuck to the 9-5 and refused flexible or home-based working will struggle the most to adapt to our new normal with no provisions in place.
COVID-19 could demonstrate that remote working can be done successfully, and in some cases even obtain better results than traditional ways of working.
Once people get used to the freedom and autonomy of remote working, it could be hard for them to go back to the way things were before. All we need is the right video conferencing tools and a shift in our mindset.
For more info about getting into the right mindset, enjoy our post on the 7 Traits of a Good Entrepreneur
On the other hand, you could argue that working from home in these conditions, with widespread anxiety and housebound kids or family members, is not a fair representation of the good results that could be obtained under normal conditions.
- Around 50% of people work in roles that could be done remotely
- Around one third of workers say they work from home sometimes, but this is typically only 1-2 days per month
- Less than 5% of workers work from home at least 50% of the time (believe it or not, this figure is three times as high as it was 10 years ago)
Working from home, project planning becomes more important than ever. Have you read our blog post on project planning techniques and tools?
Working from Home
With remote or home-based working, we can all work and live a little bit better. Flexible working means working in any way that isn’t 9-5, 5 days a week, in a traditional setting.
It can cover customised shift patterns, flexi time, part time working, job sharing, core hours, working from home, and remote working. No zero-hours contracts, working overtime, checking your emails at midnight (guilty!).
Flexible working of any form has been proven to be good for everyone. It can improve work life balance and lead to better health and happier people.
Benefits for Employers
- Boost productivity: employees work better and for longer, no commute or interruptions of an office environment
- Attract and retain talented staff: lower recruitment costs, reduce staff turnover, no relocation costs
- Reduced overheads: less staff to accommodate, less equipment required, less bills
- Reduce stress and burn-out: improved motivation due to increased independence and trust
- Gender equality: stops new parents being forced out of work, more women in the workforce, reduce gender pay gap
- Skills retention: retain employees who relocate for personal reasons, those seeking a career break may continue with reduced working hours
- If companies are relocating, restructuring, or merging people can work without disruptions
- Create teams regardless of location to get the best skills and experience
- Avoid disruption caused by extreme circumstances: transport strikes, extreme weather, terrorism, natural disasters
Benefits for Employees
- Increased job satisfaction due to high level of trust and autonomy
- No commute: reduced travel costs and time
- Better work life balance
- Flexible working hours: if you work better at certain times of day
- Less interruptions to your work day
- Less disruption: for instance, if your partner has to relocate
- Less exclusion of those with a disability, single parents, or carers, for all of whom flexibility is essential
Benefits for the Outside World
- Reduced traffic during rush hour
- Less travel overall: lower pollution and carbon footprint
- Less work-wear purchased, less fast fashion and single use clothing, just think how many white shirts, pairs of tights, and dress shoes office workers go through every year!
Whether you work for yourself, a small company, or a huge enterprise, we can all do our bit to work towards a future where all roles are created and advertised as flexible from day one. Employees need to ask for flexible working and employers need to be open minded enough to consider and trial it.
Do you and/or your employees work from home? Is it something you’ve considered?
A first step for many organizations could be introducing home working one day a week, company wide. Companies could then track their reduction in emissions with the entire workforce having one day of remote working per week. Firms struggling for cash could even rent out their office space when it’s not in use.
In the future, as we gradually begin to return to normality, I expect our workforce will be asking questions about keeping some of the recent home working measures in place. How will you respond? Employers will need to analyse and compare productivity levels with and without flexible working in place to decide how their future workforce will look.
For further reading on entrepreneurship, accounting and project management visit Kiwili’s blog, available in both English and French
We must remember that long working hours don’t guarantee productivity. In some countries, governments are now enforcing a legal cap on overtime.
For some tips on productivity, you might be interested in our post, Working as a Team, Productivity and Team Building for Entrepreneurs
Good luck and stay safe, from the team here at Kiwili!