Working from home. Sounds nice doesn’t it? You can avoid the hustle and bustle of the daily commute on a cramped mass transit system or a traffic jam on the highway every morning and evening. Working from home could help relieve the stress of tight schedules and give you and your workforce the flexibility to adopt a better work-life balance routine thus improving morale and productivity. However, not all flexible “telecommuting” policies are created equal, and depending on your business model or industry, may not be conducive to success. The solution is to find the right balance.
The Benefits of Offering Flexible, “Work from Home” Options
The popularity of working from home, or “telecommuting”, is growing as the modern workforce shifts to a greater focus on work-life balance and flexibility. According to IWG, a Switzerland based serviced office provider, “70 percent of professionals work remotely… at least one day a week, while 53 percent work remotely for at least half of the week” .
Additionally, indeed.com, an online job search website, conducted a survey of their own across many industries of around 500 employees each, and found that “among employees who are allowed to work from home, the overwhelming majority (75%) say that doing so has improved their work-life balance” . In general, flexible work arrangements can help boost employee morale, reduce stress, improve productivity in certain situations, and reduce costly turnover.
There are also cost benefits to also having less workers in the same office which can reduce costs associated with providing work space. In 2016, Dell, an international technology company, had reported savings of up to $12 million in real estate costs by consolidating to more flexible workspace arrangements . There is a general desire to increase telecommuting in their business model but not all companies follow this trend.
A comparable tech company, IBM, reversed their policy in 2017 and brought thousands of workers back to their offices. They believed that employees and “teams needed to be in the same space to be successful” . They cited a decrease in productivity when applying remote working options. Therefore, it is important for small businesses to assess whether their unique business model and culture could benefit from “telecommuting”.
To “Telecommute” or not to “Telecommute”, that is the Question
The first step is to review your existing business structure and assess how your employees and their job functions affect the operational efficiency of your company. Not all responsibilities can be transitioned into a “home office” situation so the initial assessment is key. Make sure you incorporate your workforce and team in on the discussion to find the right balance.
Next, be sure to assess whether you have the IT infrastructure in place to support telecommuting employees. It is important to focus on maintaining security, access, and communication across your workforce .
- Security: find effective file encryption software, back up solutions, and a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to help secure the internet activity of workers.
- Access: An effective cloud-based file storage system, like Microsoft Sharepoint, can ensure your employees have access to all the necessary documents needed to execute their tasks.
- Communication: With a team spread out in different locations, maintaining effective communication will be key to team cohesion. Utilize instant messaging applications like Slack, and Microsoft Teams, as well as VoIP / video conferencing options, to ensure active communication channels. Coordinate and manage daily tasks and responsibilities through project management software like Asana, Monday, or Jira.
Find Balance in your Workforce
Balance is a hard thing to achieve, whether in life or in management. There is no perfect solution to every unique business environment because situations change. Telecommuting is an option for small businesses that can help them compete in an ever-changing workforce landscape but only if it supports, and not hinders, your business model and culture. Find the right balance when offering telecommuting and take the time to ensure your IT infrastructure can support and adapt to such a policy.
If you are thinking of making a change in how your IT services work for you, remember:
A strong IT infrastructure is the backbone of a growing business.
Choose an experienced managed IT service provider
who will handle all day-to-day IT headaches, so you don’t have to!
To learn more about our services or schedule a complimentary consultation with our IT experts, please contact us.
Sign up for our Small Business IT Newsletter
Vission Technology Inc. is one of the only teams in the Greater Vancouver Area that provides Marketing and Web Development Services in addition to Managed IT services. Web Development Services entail Vission Technology Inc. assisting small business owners in helping to establish an impactful digital presence at any stage of their business. Vission Technology Inc. can be involved at any stage of the creation of a digital footprint starting from content creation to server hosting. With its excellent project management skills and years of experience, Vission’s services span every part of the Greater Vancouver Area (Vancouver, Richmond, Burnaby, New Westminster, Delta, Coquitlam, and Langley).