Even before the global pandemic, remote working was growing in popularity with companies both large and small. As long ago as 2016 a Gallup poll found that 43% of employed Americans spend at least some of their working time working from home – this was a 4% increase from 2012. There are many arguments to be made for working from home. Of course, right now for many of us, it’s mandatory. But can businesses gain anything from “moving” their business to be mostly virtual and working remotely?
With so much of the worldwide workforce telecommuting out of necessity, an obvious question has arisen: does it make sense to keep doing this after the pandemic? Is working from home actually more productive? Does it make more sense? Is it better for quality of life?
These are all important questions, and of course, the answers aren’t black or white. They are extremely dependent upon the businesses and individuals in question. But we do have a few ideas, tips, and questions to ask yourself that may help you decide if your business can thrive – or survive – while working remotely.
Are Employees Productive While Working Remotely?
Let’s examine the main points that any business should consider when thinking about shifting to a remote work model. The big one is, can workers be as productive at home as they are at the office?
Naturally, everyone is different, but statistics show that the answer to this question can be a resounding yes. That is, this works if the business and employees work together to create a professional, productive working environment.
According to the State of Work Productivity Report, 65% of full-time employees believe that working remotely increases productivity. And this isn’t just coming from employees – two-thirds of managers report increased productivity from their remote employees.
Sometimes remote working can take productivity levels too far. In fact, a recent survey by Buffer found that ending their workday at 5pm, and unplugging from work, was one of the main struggles of working remotely. Many remote workers are even more likely to work overtime than they are when working at the office. This can be attributed to a more comfortable work environment and time saved from not having to commute. But really, too much is not ideal for the quality of work-life balance.
Some Considerations for Working Remotely
If your business is serious about shifting to a remote work model, though, don’t take the productivity piece for granted. It takes some thought to create a fully functional, healthy, and productive remote – or even partially remote – company.
We have some recommendations on what you can do to encourage remote accountability and productivity.
The key here is that you and your employees have good support systems in place to ensure that you are able to stay productive, engaged, and in good spirits.
This means creating set schedules. In theory, you should have set times weekly, or better yet daily, for employees to reach out with questions, concerns, or thoughts. Encourage your employees to do the same. Setting a schedule can be harder at home. It’s no surprise that family members will often be more inclined to interrupt remote workers or want their time and attention when they’re working from home.
Of course, there will usually be the need for virtual meetings, probably best on a regular basis to help everyone know what to expect for schedules. These video conferences will also help employees see each other and continue at least some human connection.
Another important way to establish work/personal life boundaries at home is to have a designated “work area” in the house. This may not have been possible for many people forced into remote work suddenly due to COVID-19. But if your company is serious about transitioning to remote work long term, this is critical.
As a company, make suggestions for employees to continue to dress professionally, have a designated work desk that is not used for anything else, invest in a comfortable office chair. Setting up reliable internet and digital technologies may help to establish productivity when working virtually. It may even be a wise investment to set up a budget to help cover some of these costs to support remote work for your employees.
And don’t forget about security. Here is a helpful previous post about keeping everyone safe online.
Can Working Remotely Actually Save Your Business Money?
The short answer is that it certainly can.
It’s true that there may be certain upfront costs associated with transitioning to a work from home model. But in the long run, telework is more likely to save you money.
The most obvious example is eliminating a brick and mortar workplace, if you are able. Think of the money your business could save not having to pay rent, not stocking the office kitchen, not providing parking or transit stipends.
This isn’t to say that there won’t be other costs associated with remote jobs. You may want to provide a phone or internet stipend for your employees. In addition, you eventually may want to invest in a co-working space for occasional use. And if employees have computer issues, you would still be accountable for fixing them.
In the end, the financial side of remote work will vary depending on the company. So before committing to a remote work model, think through some of these financial possibilities and crunch your numbers.
Will Your Business Transition to Working Remotely Full-time?
Transitioning to a long term work from home model is not a simple decision. It depends on what you and your employees are comfortable with, your capacity to do business from home, the overhead involved, and many more factors. These also include everyone’s abilities when it comes to time and task management.
It has many potential benefits (no commute, more time with family, expanded hiring options, lower overhead) and some drawbacks (potential for loneliness, fewer face-to-face interactions, harder to communicate with co-workers).
Ultimately, it is up to your business to review all the factors at hand and decide whether or not you think your company could thrive with a work from home model. We hope the discussion in this article has helped to begin your business’ dialogue in thinking through the world of virtual work.
And as always, we are here for you if you would like individualized consultation when weighing the different options for your situation. And if you decide to go the remote work route, we’d love to help you figure out the logistics of how to go about the transition, from a financial point of view.
Need help with loans? Check out this recent article for businesses during this uncertain time:
We Can Help
We know the challenges of owning a business, and now is a critical turning point for most. But that’s why we aim to be as open and available as possible. We hope that this post shed some light on an intimidating subject.
The Saddock Advisory team invites you to get in touch with us so you can learn more about our history, our services, and how we can help you! Fill out our contact form here and we’ll be in touch shortly.