SME: How remote working can promote productivity

Here are seven compelling reasons why allowing remote working may not be such a bad idea.

  

Letting your employees work from home may seem like an invitation to disaster, but considering the alternatives, it could be your company's secret weapon against high turnover and low productivity.

Moreover, working from home (WFH), also known as remote working or telecommuting, has become the new normal for many organisations worldwide since the first quarter of 2020, as the coronavirus swept the globe. With the pandemic surging, mandatory WFH policies allowed companies to operate while helping curb the spread of the virus.

While some jobs require face-to-face interactions with customers in an office or retail environment, technology has opened the door for many jobs to be carried out from home.

Before you reject the idea as yet another 'New Age' phenomenon, consider the following seven reasons why you should let your employees work from home.

1) More time for work. With most people spending more than an hour a day commuting back and forth to work, work-at-home jobs can dramatically increase the number of productive working hours for salaried employees. Over the course of a year, remote workers will have 20% more time to do the things that matter to your company, all without losing any of their free time.                                        

2) Larger talent pool. Remote work gives your company access to a world of talent. Rather than being limited to local candidates, remote workers can come from anywhere in the country or the world.

3) Take advantage of time zones. Work-at-home customer service agents can extend customer service hours. Agents working in the UAE, for example, can handle early morning calls from the United Kingdom and late-night calls from California in the United States. While there will be some challenges co-ordinating customer hand-offs, a solid customer relationship management (CRM) system and overlapping work hours should make scheduling a breeze.

4) Focus on results. While many managers wonder if work-at-home employees will spend their time watching television or idly surfing the Internet, most find that remote workers use their time productively, focusing on tangible results. Rather than worry about office politics or what to do with a sick child at home, remote workers concentrate on keeping a job that allows them to live a more balanced life. Surveys have found that remote workers tend to work more efficiently than office-based employees. A major reason is that they face fewer interruptions from co-workers and attend far fewer meetings.

5) Lower overhead. Since remote workers don't need company-provided workspace, organisations employing them can save money by leasing smaller offices. With office space in Dubai leasing at more than USD 378 per square meter (on average), every employee working from home could save a company a significant sum a year. That's money that can go directly to the bottom line.

6) Less vulnerable to weather and other natural disasters. Remote workers are less vulnerable to natural disasters. If an agent experiences a power outage, his calls can be rerouted to another agent.

7) Happier employees. Work-at-home employees are far less likely to burn out. Given the relative comfort of working at home, most remote workers suffer far less stress and are much less likely to take unpaid time off to take care of family.

Although remote work has clear advantages over office work, it comes with some challenges. In addition to the technical requirements, remote workers still require direction and coaching. Unlike an office environment where co-workers can share information over coffee, remote workers can feel isolated without regular interactions with supervisors or co-workers.

Any company pursuing a remote-work strategy should take care to build good communication channels and provide venues for employees to share ideas. From dedicated company chat rooms to instant messaging, companies can foster a sense of community while taking advantage of the efficiency of remote work.

© ZAWYA 2020