‘Anywhere’ working – Does it work?

UK businesses are increasingly trusting their staff and empowering them by allowing them to work anywhere, meaning that work is no longer a place we go to, but an activity we do.  The office in the future will be a place for occasional use.

35% of people surveyed said they were more productive at home, and when you consider that employees spend on average 200 hours a year travelling to and from work, this could be an extra five weeks’ productivity for a business.

Not only would this make an employee happier and more engaged because they haven’t been sat in traffic, this also alleviates the need for extra staff.

With employees preferring to commute just 20 minutes from home, remote working doesn’t just mean sitting at home, it could be at a customer or supplier site.  With video conferencing being widely and easily available now, businesses can cut business travel and give an employee a better work/life balance.

There are a number of measures that companies can put into place to make sure that anywhere working works for them:

–          Have a culture that measures output rather than process.

–          Remote employees must spend time, the occasional day, in the office to build rapport and interaction.

–          Have regular check in appointments as even the best phones don’t pick up body language and you may not notice if an employee is disgruntled or has an issue.

–          Have a best practice programme.  This must be formal and explicit and not on an adhoc basis.

–          Go paperless – make sure technologies are portable, and advise times when you are available to communicate.

–          Use technologies to make individual and team performance transparent

–          Have back up laptops that can be deployed, so that no one can say ‘my laptop is playing up and so I can’t work’

–          Core competencies – individual must be adaptable, well organized and flexible

–          Start frequent communications with purpose to help remote employees feel connected and included

–          Explore whether there is a need for internal social networks in your business

–          Make sure that you ensure that remote employees get the same promotion opportunities as those who are office based.

But a lot of businesses remain skeptical about remote working.  71% have not adopted home-working, citing the employees fear of isolation and the need to be seen in the office as the main reason for low take up.

Business remains a human enterprise.  For an owner of an SME, seeing operations up close and in person are critical to success.

However,companies that are categorically saying that they are not willing to embrace anywhere working are going to miss out on a level of employee-led innovation that will be debilitating in the long term.

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