Here’s Why Your Company Should be Embracing Remote Working
Remote working is revolutionizing the way modern businesses operate. Instead of employees being required to commute daily to a central office, operated by the employer, they are instead free to work from any other location. It could be the employee’s home, a shared working space or indeed anywhere outside of the traditional corporate office building.
Of course the process of decentralizing your operation brings with it its own obstacles and considerations especially when the central office model has been the norm ostensibly since the industrial revolution. The first is a question of security.
Online security factors are paramount to the success of a modern business. Failure to properly implement an effective cybersecurity approach can result in dataleaks, ransomware, costly downtime and possibly legal culpability.
Each year we witness attacks in just about every industry; from the World Health Organization to shipping giants Maersk and even the catastrophic breach of US credit agency Equifax where 145 million users’ information was unlawfully obtained. In short, cybersecurity should be a priority for any company, large or small.
In a traditional office environment, it is more straightforward for the IT department to monitor the activity of any node on a network but there is a further element of complexity when remote working is involved. Thankfully, many third party companies offer comprehensive support for businesses of all sizes to ensure they remain secure while not sacrificing the versatility of a mobile workforce.
A zero trust network is one such method; each user or device is granted access specifically and explicitly to only the applications it is permitted to use, while the rest of the network remains invisible. These are known as granular access policies and when combined with Transport Layer Security (TLS) communication (instead of WAN connections) provide an easy to implement solution for remote workers.
A ZTNA provides many advantages over a conventional hardware/on-premises VPN/firewall and when you make use of a third-party specialist you can always customize the software to create a bespoke product that fits your operation.
It may not be feasible to do away with the office premises entirely; physical meetings sometimes need to take place, in person training and some collaborative efforts are more effective when the whole team can come together. But if the office is still required it can certainly be reduced in size or hours of operation. It may even be possible to share a space with one or several other similar sized companies.
Ultimately, this means lower overheads in the form of rent, utilities and cleaning costs, employee travel expenses, food perks and in some cases renegotiated wages due to workers not needing to live in more expensive locations in close proximity to the office.
Employees will also feel the benefit to their monthly budget. Occasionally a client facing Zoom call might require smarter clothes but there’s likely to be less need for a costly work wardrobe that needs updating annually. Similarly commuting costs will be saved, whether that be the cost of gas, parking and depreciation and repairs of an automobile, or a monthly travelcard if public transport is used.
A Motivated Workforce
Employees given the freedom to work from home feel valued, empowered and trusted by the company and their superiors, and are consequently more likely to want to deliver their best work so as to prove that that trust was not misplaced. There are even researched psychological benefits to working remotely with many reporting lower stress levels and other mental health benefits.
And for those reticent that productivity may suffer, there are a series of tools that managers can utilize on company devices to quantify the output and hours worked by each staff member. Primarily, a workforce, well trained in their role and communicated with effectively helps to ensure operational gaps do not occur.
Slack is one of the most widely used communication platforms that enable companies to share information and stay in touch remotely, and has many advantages over email. Time, activity and task trackers like Insightful can provide management with statistics of each remote worker.
There is in fact data that suggests reducing hours in work can lead to increased productivity. The 4-day working week has been trialed in several countries but it’s too soon to ascertain its true effectiveness. Most follow the 100-80-100 model which states employees receive 100% of the pay for 80% of the time in exchange for at least 100% productivity.
Japan, Spain, The UK, Ireland, Lithuania and most famously Iceland have all experimented to varying degrees with reduced working hours.
Although a member of staff might be scheduled to work between the hours of 9am and 5pm, the hour long (sometimes longer) commute tacked on to each end of the working day is all time dedicated to the job that contributes to burnout and job dissatisfaction. Freeing up that time in the morning and the evening by offering remote working options means workers are less likely to want to consider a job closer to where they live due to the convenience of a lengthy commute.
The pool from which employers can advertise to and pick their workforce from opens up, in some cases internationally, when remote working is on the table. This does a fantastic job of placing the best candidates in the best roles which is a big win for both employers and employees.
Being adaptable is beneficial in many areas of business and remote working might be a sign of how companies operate in the future. Once the initial teething problems of transferring to a new system have been ironed out, you may wonder why you didn’t try it sooner.