As the workplace modernises at a fast pace, upgrading old technology, restructuring floor plans and replacing historic software is just a fraction of the actual change employees can benefit from.
A handful of first steps businesses can take to edge closer to a more modern way of working include allowing employees to carry out their duties without anchoring themselves to the workplace, also known as remote working.
Easily accessible technology and improved network connectivity across the world now mean that businesses can open the lines of communication with suppliers and clients without requiring access to the physical workplace or the technology and resources located in the office. As older businesses begin to revamp their tech and younger businesses born directly into the technological age pump investment into industry-standard equipment and software, the chasm between both generations of businesses tightens, making way for a new way of working.
The takeover of innovative technology
In addition to enhancing the employee experience, such measures can encourage efficient working, both from a productivity perspective and financially. For example, Skype for Business allows you to professionally establish communication with your end party and invite additional team members into the conversation, replicating a real-life meeting and working one step ahead of the traditional conference call which is limited to audio-only. In reality, you can enjoy a family holiday on one side of the world and attend a mandatory meeting with your colleagues on the other side through the click of a button and without compromise. This not only allows for efficient working but saves money for the business.
The balancing act of remote working
Research carried out by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) on ‘investigating the benefits and challenges of agile and remote working’ found that remote working boosts work and organisational engagement in comparison to those working traditionally. On the other hand, the UK based professional association for HR professionals found that individuals with remote working arrangements in place reported higher levels of loneliness and workplace isolation, however, showed less of an inclination to quit. Factors which positively influenced this include:
• Better value of time – 51%
• Reduced travel – 33%
• Increased productivity – 32%
• Less distractions – 26%
Remote working boasted a combination of the above factors as by working out of the office, you can determine your ideal travel time, tailor your workspace around your preferences and plot yourself in a way to avoid distractions. The most common work-related challenge was the lack of IT and mobile phone coverage (31%). Less interaction with colleagues was highlighted in 27% of responses, alongside trouble accessing other locations (18%) and a lack of consistent office space (16%). Preparation could assist in extinguishing the issue of technological setbacks by making prior arrangements with your workplace, including a membership with a co-working office space if required. There are internal platforms which can be used to communicate with colleagues, including the likes of work management software, such as Asana, which allows you to seamlessly work as a team and keep your colleagues updated on your progress.
The balancing act of working from home
Many beneficial factors associated with working from home (a form of remote working) include having more control and flexibility over your work-life routine, whether this is sporadic or pre-planned. The respondents found that remote working presented a better work-life balance as you have the flexibility to switch off when you please unless you have fixed hours set by your employer. By being able to work from home and in a flexible manner, many were able to turn their attention to personal commitments and spread their working hours around this, allowing for a better work-life balance. A mixture of the above also assisted in enhancing the remote working experience.
Delving deeper into the data produced by CIPD, respondents found that it was vital to set boundaries between home and work life due to the ease of switching between the two. Family demands also played a small factor, as by working from home, you are physically accessible, unlike when working at a separate dedicated workplace.
For remote working to work, it’s important to set boundaries when working away from the physical office space to keep distractions at bay. Working in this manner can blur the lines between home and work life, however, it’s vital to train yourself to separate the two, without compromising on your work responsibilities or family life commitments.
Resources – In addition to this, ensure that you have the required tools and resources to carry out your job. Many co-working spaces are fitted out to cater to your needs, such as meeting rooms, printers, photocopiers and post boxes; however, preparation is a key component of this style of working.
Legal – Taking a look at the legal aspect, dependent on legislation and company guidelines around this measure, you may decide to request for a remote working clause to be added to your employment contract if you decide to take this route on a long-term basis.
Security – The level of security or confidentiality that your work requires is sector dependent, however, this is an aspect which if ignored could hinder your chances of being offered remote working.
You may face some teething problems when embarking on your journey into remote working, but it can prove to be lucrative due to the relaxed working culture and the freedom to pick and choose your work spot for the day. This style of working may take time to adjust to but it can offer you the freedom to juggle your working life around your personal life, without the need to compromise on your work commitments.
Keith Tully is a partner at Real Business Rescue, a specialist business restructuring and recovery service for company directors considering the likes of a Company Voluntary Liquidation and Company Administration. His specialisms as a business rescue expert lie within structuring rescue strategies for independent and national firms.