By Grace Lau – Director of Growth Content, Dialpad
One of the major shifts in the world of work right now is remote working.
Recent years have seen this work model explode in popularity, and whilst many employees do prefer working from home, the businesses that employ them are confronted with a pressing question:
Is it time to return to the office, or stay remote?
We’ll tackle that question by explaining the benefits of a remote work set-up, as well as considering potential drawbacks, and the solutions used today by leading businesses.
So, whether you’re new to remote working, or are an expert simply looking for a refresher on your knowledge, read on to learn more about whether remote working is right for your business…
What is remote working?
In simple terms, remote working is when an employee performs their work duties outside of a company’s premises.
It can be summarized by the mantra: “Work is what we do, not where we are.”
That means that employees can ditch their traditional office HQs to work wherever they wish. Quite often, they will choose to work in a home office, Internet café, or telecenter.
The concept of remote work goes back a long time. However, today the term is almost synonymous with “teleworking” – first coined back in 1973. This is essentially a subset of remote working that relies on an Internet connection and PC programs to keep employees connected.
Today, remote companies are building entire digital workspaces. You’d expect to see a communications app for voice calls, video meetings, and file sharing. Workflow apps, like an integration for Formstack, also allow executives to track their project’s progress.
With this has come a rise in flexible offices and coworking spaces around the world. Plus, with platforms like coworking software, it’s increasingly easier for employees to work from anywhere and still access the tools they need, when they need them.
Cost-cutting aspects of the remote work model
So now we’re clear on what remote working is, what are the benefits?
Lower wage costs and a broader talent pool
A primary advantage of remote working is that you have access to a wider talent pool. Think about it: you may hire employees from all over the world, rather than just those who live near your offices.
This may be particularly beneficial for highly qualified employees who have an employment gap through no fault of their own, yet are struggling to find work where they live.
The reason of course is that, on the Internet, we are all neighbors. Aside from tracking the latency rate, you would have no idea if you were connected with someone from your city, country, or continent.
So, how is this useful from a business perspective? Well, it means that you can hire overseas employees with ease. That’s especially true if you’re based in a Western country where wages are generally high. You may find that an international workforce is a completely different employment situation, with far lower wages for the same skills.
Of course, there are challenges to overcome when creating a dispersed, global team. Namely, the problems of time zones and communication. If portions of your team are offline during your active hours, you can see how this would require significant operational planning.
But if you’re a global business, having global employees is a great solution – especially if you need to take calls. Instead of having a bunch of queued calls waiting because no-one speaks the right language, you can simply ensure an employee who does is available.
Increased employee productivity
A widely-acknowledged benefit of remote working is that it boosts worker productivity.
In fact, a study from 2021 found that 90% of employees who worked remotely reported no detriment to their productivity, with them being 22% happier across the board. And how does that help you? Well, happy employees are:
- Less likely to be absent from work.
- More likely to stay with your company for longer (increased employee retention).
- Happy to market your company by word-of-mouth to other potential candidates or customers.
However, these findings are of course qualified by other exceptional criteria, owing to the various differences in a company’s workforce or sector.
For instance, employees with less than 5 years of experience were more likely to see their productivity decline when working from home. The reason, of course, is that new employees need guidance. Without the support of an in-person work environment, their skills may lag behind their peers. As such, extra care may be needed to foster this development.
Cheaper overhead costs
Finally, adopting a work-from-home business model could remove huge costs from your company’s balance sheet.
A dispersed team does not need a big downtown office. They might not even need an office at all. You could run your business out of the study room in your house and save a small fortune on rent, utility bills, and cleaners. That’s not to mention the savings you could make on tax.
Of course, new costs will appear in place of these savings. Without physical infrastructure, you will need to build out a digital workplace for your employees. Instead of a PBX telephony system, you would opt for an Internet-hosted VOIP service, for example.
There are some clear benefits to using SaaS providers. The most notable being their low upfront cost and maintenance. You simply sign up for a recurring payment plan and be ready to go almost immediately. If at any point you’re not happy with the service, you can cancel your subscription. Plus, you can scale as needed, instead of paying upfront for things you might not need.
Of course, you’ll still need to train your employees on the best ways to use these programs. The best programs will offer advanced features as part of a custom package. This allows you to tailor it to your exact needs, e.g. three-way calls, custom caller ID, or voicemail to text.
Conclusion: Should you make the switch to remote working?
Remote working is certainly a dynamic opportunity for the businesses of today.
It offers several key advantages over a traditional office set-up, and looks set be the work culture of tomorrow. Employees seem to prefer it, companies can cut down their costs, and it brings together dispersed global workforces.
On the flip side, it also introduces new challenges for business owners. If you’re new to the concept, you might find it very different from your previous ventures. The online economy can be a volatile place where you’ll face stiff competition from rival businesses.
However, even if you don’t choose to go fully remote, there are lessons to learn from those who too – for instance, digitalizing your workflows, looking further for talent, and getting rid of all those extra costs you don’t necessarily need.