Many businesses are enabling employees to work remotely and this is on the increase as the benefits of remote working are starting to be realised. In this month's blog we will be looking at what remote working is, the benefits and best practices of remote working and some advice on what technology you need to put in place to make it work. With more than 4 million people working from home maybe it is something for you to consider. 
What is remote working? 
 
Remote working is where an employee carries out their daily duties outside of the office, this can be from any location. Technology such as Hosted Telephony, Unified Communications and Cloud Computing enable this. Pretty much anything that can be done in the office can now be done from home. More than 4 million people are working remotely and this has increased over the last 10 years. So why are businesses now allowing remote working? If you are thinking about rolling this out in your business then have a read of the benefits and things to consider. 
 
Cost Savings 
Working from home offers cost savings to both the employer and the employee. By reducing the number of people working in the office it reduces overhead costs for the employer. Working from home means that the employee isn't faced with the cost of commuting which we all know, can be expensive. 
 
Flexibility 
Your employees are not restricted to being in the office at a certain time which is a benefit to members of the team who are parents, for example, as this means that they can drop off and pick up their children which reduces their potential childcare worries. Employees no longer need to book unnecessary holiday to wait in all day for the Gas Man or for a delivery, now they can be at home and working.  
 
Less Sick Days 
If an employee is feeling unwell they are more likely to work if they are at home as often the thought of facing a long and stressful commute is what can stop a person coming into the office. Take away the need to commute and already the working day is more bearable.  
 
Increased Productivity 
Employees can be more productive when they work from home as they are not distracted by the noise and activity in the office. They can gather their thoughts and produce more work if they are on their own in the peace and quiet of their home office or location outside of the busy work office. Instant messaging, e-mail or a phone call can instantly put them in touch with a team member should they need support. We have all had that dreadful journey into work which has left you feeling stressed before your working day has even begun - remote working means that your employee doesn't have to commute to work therefore they are more likely to start their day on time and in the right frame of mind ready to achieve lots. Also people are often more efficient when they are in charge of their own schedule. 
 
Happier Employees 
All the benefits of remote working lead to happier employees as their work/life balance is improved and they feel trusted and valued which ultimately makes your business a great place to work. 
 
Although the benefits are good and something to consider you will need to think about how best to roll this out within your business. How will you manage it and is it the right way of working for all of your employees. 
 
Keep in Touch 
Once a week, or at the very least fortnightly, make sure you are in contact with your remote workers. As much as working remotely is a productive way of working, employees need some interaction with their colleagues to ensure that they are all working to the same schedules etc. Video conferencing allows you to have team meetings or one to ones. By using call recording and call reporting applications it enables you to monitor staff performance and staff development. By employees keeping in touch with the rest of the team great ideas can be shared which leads to great work. 
 
Set up a Schedule 
Some remote workers will find it more challenging than others to follow a schedule or routine outside of an office environment. To support your remote workers and to get the most out of them it may be that you require them to be online and contactable at certain times of the day. 
 
Distractions 
As much as the office can be a distracting environment, so too can the home. The TV or the garden on a summers day can be appealing. Identifying your most disciplined and motivated employees may make this more successful for your business. 
 
Technology 
So that your remote workers can carry out the tasks that they would in the office you need to make sure that your technology is in place. Remote access to the companies network and communication tools such as instant message, e-mail, video conferencing, CRM etc needs to be set up. 
 
So, in summary, remote working offers both the employer and employee many benefits. The employee can become more efficient and productive and the employer can enjoy cost savings and a happier team. The office still very much has its place, it can create a real team atmosphere, collaboration amongst the team is instant etc. But as long as you have the technology in place and you have selected the right people, remote working is definitely something to consider. 
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