Telecommuting, where you work at home rather than go into the office, has had a bad press in the past. Many businesses, including SMEs, weren't too sure about it, after all there's no telling how productive someone is going to be if they are not under direct supervision. The truth is, bosses often equated working from home with lack of productivity.
Now things are starting to change. The reason? We are even more connected than we used to be. Whilst in Europe and America we are lagging behind, our colleagues in the Middle East, Asia and Latin America are starting to embrace the idea of remote working and, with 1.3 billion workers now owning a mobile phone or other smart device, it's becoming easier than ever. Asia-Pacific businesses are expected to have over 870 million virtual workers by next year.
Why Remote Working Could be better for your SME
Rather than promoting a lack of productivity with your employees, remote working could actually help improve it. With the right support it can give many workers a greater degree of flexibility and make them happier in their jobs. Many businesses still don't know that it's written in legislation that any employee who has worked for a company for 6 months and asks for flexible working has to be offered it.
We now have the technology to make a success of it - with cloud based software and smart devices that can keep us more connected than if we were actually in the office. Flexible or remote working wouldn't be possible at all if we didn't have this. The technology also gives small to medium size businesses the opportunity to outsource their provision rather than employ someone directly, thus cutting down overall costs.
How SMEs Deal with Remote Working
There are some practical issues that need to be considered before offering remote working for your staff, particularly for small to medium size businesses. For larger ones it is often easy not to notice when a member of staff isn't present; for smaller companies that's simply not the case.
You need to have a fair and consistent policy in place for remote working and organise it properly. Above all, you need to make the most of the technology that is available, from smartphones and tablets to the connectivity of the cloud, and you need the technology within your organisation to bring it all together.
Setting Up Remote Working for your SME
The key measure of productivity for an employee used to be the amount of time they spent in the office. This is no longer the case. The best measure is actually the work they produce. Allowing remote working and offering a more flexible approach can improve life for your employees and benefit the productivity of your business, especially for those who are struggling to juggle family and home life with work.
The only issue is how to set it up effectively so that output is monitored and everyone is treated equally. Remote working relies on having the right tools for the job and ensuring everyone knows how to use them. That not only means having the right technology such as smartphones, laptops and tablets, but also having access to an IT helpdesk and ensuring your employees are connected to the cloud which means they can communicate more effectively with each other, wherever they are.
There's no doubt that we are starting to embrace remote working as a more viable option and many SMEs are beginning to see it as a positive change in the way we work, especially now that the IT support is available to make it possible.