When you tell someone that you’re working from home, the usual response is a raised eyebrow and having the words “working from home” repeated back at you with an accompanying David Brent-style air quotes gesture.
Remote working is still stigmatised by many who believe that it’s only ever requested by those who want to skive off and watch daytime TV in their dressing gown, instead of doing actual work. However, companies and managers who think this way are missing opportunities to not only get more from their workforce, but improve morale, reduce staff turnover and attract new talent.
Remote working is rising in popularity. According to figures from the TUC, there were 400,000 more people working remotely in 2017 than in 2005, putting the total figure at just over 1.6 million. However, a staggering 4 million more UK workers would like to work remotely at least some of the time, but do not have the opportunity to do so.
A broader talent pool
Claire Walker, co-executive director of policy and campaigns at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) recently talked of flexible working as an important part of growing the UK economy. Flexible, remote working opens up a huge opportunity to benefit from potential employees that are unable to work in offices, for a variety of reasons.
For example, there is a huge talent pool of non-working parents, who are unable to work fixed, inflexible hours in an office due to childcare responsibilities. Often, these parents have many years of valuable experience that is simply wasted because of inflexible employers. Similarly, remote working is ideal for disabled workers, those with responsibilities as carers and anyone looking to get a better work-life balance.
Benefits of remote working
Studies also show that remote working can boost productivity, with 91% of remote workers saying they get more work done, and are also happier as a result. Major factors that contribute to improved happiness include the lack of a commute and the opportunity to live a more active lifestyle, due to time saved from not being sat in traffic.
The facts back this up, as according to a report on the health impacts of commuting by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), 55% said they felt more stressed as a result of their commute and 41% did less physical activity.
Technology enables remote working
Thanks to advances in technology, it’s easier than ever to work collaboratively with remote team members all over the world. Low-cost, yet powerful laptop and desktop computers offer more than enough performance for office tasks, while high-quality cameras and microphones are also highly affordable.
The growing coverage of high-speed broadband is another factor that makes remote working more feasible, and it’s now estimated the 94% of UK premises can receive fixed-line super-fast broadband.
With the rise of SaaS platforms, such as Office 365 – which already has more than 135 million users worldwide – and collaborative tools, such as G Suite and Slack, the ability to work in a team is not dependent on being located in the same physical space as co-workers. This is why pioneering organisations, such as the Hoxby Collective, have been able to grow their workforce to more than 450 talented people working remotely across 29 countries.
Video conferencing improves connectedness
Face-to-face interactions are retained too, thanks to powerful video conferencing tools like Google Hangouts. In fact, in a survey of 1,152 video conferencing users, 93% agreed that video conferencing was effective at improving the connectedness of remote employees.
The fact is that technology is fundamentally changing the way people work by enabling effective remote working. To quote Richard Branson, “In 30 years’ time, as technology moves forward even further, people are going to look back and wonder why offices ever existed.”
Whether you agree with this statement or not, it’s clear that remote working is only going to grow in importance and that businesses that don’t embrace change risk being left on the scrapheap.
To learn more about how ASUS can enable remote working and smarter collaboration, click here.