Let’s get flexible! The Benefits of Working From Home
February 2, 2020
emote working is changing the way businesses operate. It's a huge benefit to startups and one that many should take advantage of.
The law in the UK states that “all employees have the legal right to request flexible working” providing they’ve worked for the same employer for 26 weeks and their employer doesn’t have a “good business reason” to refuse.
It’s no wonder, therefore, that the floodgates of working opportunity have been opened in recent years and the option to work remotely is quickly becoming one of the most attractive propositions an employer can offer. The number of people who work from home has increased by 140% since 2005 (Global Workplace Analytics) and Upwork predicts that by 2028, 73% of all departments will have remote workers within their staff force.
It certainly wouldn’t have been possible to consider a working-from-home model at all without all the advancements in technology now available to us. The checklist of tools for modern workers to facilitate their daily work and actually make money is an increasingly small one – a computer, mobile device and a reliable Wi-Fi connection is pretty much it! But there are other handy tools also key in making a working setup like this actually productive.
Video calling platforms like Skype and Zoom make it possible to meet with clients remotely and catch up with co-workers, and group conversations are easy to facilitate. Instant Messaging systems such as Slack enable direct and fast chat with your team and being able to share ideas in organised channels. Coupled alongside a trusted sharing platform like DropBox, and you’ve got all the tools you need to work in a team without being confined to the same working space.
So, you’ve got the law on your side, and all the mod-cons available. But why would you consider a remote working setup at all?
Whether your business has a proportion of your staff force working offsite, or whether your entire business has no fixed office base, it can save a ton of money in overheads. Reduced desk space, less electricity, zero office rent and much more. For a startup, being able to begin their new company with such a money-saving model allows them to put that money into other areas of the business. That readjustment of their budget can be monumental, and can often determine whether that startup can even survive or not.
Every aspect of remote working offers employees and employers complete flexibility. A worker is able to work anywhere they choose – at home, a public space, a co-working office etc. It gives rise to working flexible hours that fit in around childcare, health, peak travel and more. And it also offers a job opportunity for more workers in more sectors – for example a mother with young children, unable to commit to a traditional 9-5 office job, but who’s now able to work a part-time, flexible role and juggle other commitments. These opportunities and the ability to ‘do it all’ enables a better work-life balance all round.
Working in-silo can often be a godsend as it eliminates the distractions of an office environment and remote workers often rejoice in the ‘peace and quiet’ they benefit from. It means you get cracking on a project without surrounding chatter and focus on the job in hand. Employees that meet up with their team for catchups find those meetings are more organised, structured and productive, because there’s a clearer focus of what work has been done and what now needs doing. That time spent with your team is more valued and effective, and often facilitates a higher degree of brainstorming and creative thinking.
With so much trust that is implored upon an employee working remotely, it’s no surprise it gives rise to an increased level of pride in one’s work and role within the company. Employees working offsite understand that they are solely responsible for their own work being completed, without the ability to be micro-managed, and fully accountable for whether that’s done on time or not. The ownership of work can often lead flexible workers to develop a higher grade of self-motivation, all leading to well-rounded, happier working lives and higher job satisfaction.
One of the main issues with the idea of remote working is in the title itself: remote. Remote is defined in the dictionary as “having very little connection with or relationship to” and “being distant”. This idea of being castaways, far off and disconnected to the rest of the team is, I believe, an unrealistic portrayal of this concept.
Sure, employees working remotely may suffer as a result of less interactions with their co-workers and the reduced social life that may entail. It can also be hard on those that lack the self-motivation and self-discipline of organising their time and getting work done. And of course, there’s the age-old danger of non-work distractions – think housework duties while you’re based at home, or people-watching while you’re working from a café. People who don’t understand it, or those who haven’t tried it themselves, may even still refer to remote working with that cynical smile like you’re hiding a secret along with those dreaded quotation marks gestured in the air!
However, for an increasingly growing number of employees, a flexible working model can be a saviour. Opening up opportunities in job roles, allowing a healthier work-life balance, and sometimes being the make-or-break component in the success of a startup company – it can be the best change you ever made.
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