Not allowing remote working? Here's why you should

Josh Peachey's picture

Rodney Laws, the Editor of Ecommerce Platforms, speaks about how every company should consider incorporating a remote working strategy...

 

Once upon a time, there was a compelling reason to require workers to be at their desks between the hours of 9 and 5. The uniformity was required to enable cooperation because it wasn’t possible for employees in different locations (or keeping different hours) to work together effectively. It was also vital for every business to keep up appearances with a busy office.

Things are decidedly different now. In the digital era, online operations abound, and technology has radically changed how the average professional operates. Even so, plenty of businesses still require their employees to commute each day. If you’re a business owner without a remote working policy, it’s about time you addressed that. Here’s why you should allow remote working:

It fits far better with flexible hours

Flexible hours are more common than remote working, with the main driver being the rise of international business. It’s particularly significant in the eCommerce world, where overseas shipping and accessibility requires a store to be operational 24/7 (even if the distribution system adheres to regular local hours), and a merchant might need to make a vital presentation to a prospective supplier at an unorthodox time.

So what happens in that situation? Do all the relevant employees get called into the office in the middle of the night? Any that use public transport will struggle with that, and the company in general will have to contend with the rest of the local business world being asleep. It’s so much better to let everyone work from home: with good webcams and solid lighting, it should have no major negative effects, and everyone will be in a position to show a lot more enthusiasm.

Desktops are no longer necessary

Equipment has long been a justification for keeping employees at their desks, particularly in jobs requiring heavy processing. Graphic designers, for instance, once needed large desktop setups to get their work done (laptops were too small, clunky, and underpowered) — but in the last decade, we’ve moved swiftly past the point of needing those massive machines for most jobs.

Modern smartphones can keep us connected over mobile data, while modern laptops offer desktop-level power with touchscreens and all the functionality needed to get work done wherever we go. Combine them with docking stations hooked up to monitors and varied peripherals and an employee can keep their optimised workplace setup — I work from a laptop most of the time, and it doesn’t cause any issues whatsoever.

It doesn’t hamper productivity

It’s long been assumed that remote working is a recipe for distraction and a reduction in productivity. Without direct oversight from managers, it’s thought, workers will take advantage of the opportunity to get paid for doing as little as possible. This is completely speculative, of course, and Global Workplace Analytics (biased as the source may be) found in a study that over two-thirds of employers reported increased productivity among their telecommuters.

It isn’t hard to figure out why remote working is good for productivity. It gets rid of commuting, saving workers time that they can put towards work. It reduces stress. Most notably, perhaps, it pushes employees to prove that they’re getting useful work done — if someone is working in an office, on the other hand, they can sit there for the required number of hours but not actually get anything done, knowing there’s a good chance it will go unnoticed (for a time, at least).

Happier employees are more loyal

Lastly, we need to cover the simple point that remote working makes employees happier (giving them back time, which is a precious commodity), and happier employees tend to stick around for much longer. Why is this so significant? Because replacing an employee is expensive and inconvenient, and it gets harder the longer that employee has been working for you. Staff members are like assets that appreciate in value.

What’s more, loyal employees are vastly more likely to talk positively about the business during their free time, and that can be far more impactful than you might think. Take social media, for instance: if you have an employee who’s extremely happy with their job and talks about it frequently on Twitter, it’ll be great organic PR for your business.

In closing, then, it’s hard to see why any modern business wouldn’t want to allow its employees to work remotely. If you trust your employees to get their jobs done in conventional circumstances, you should trust them to work just as hard from home — and in the unlikely event that they don’t, you’ll know, because you should be tracking performance regardless of where people work. Why not give it a try?