Leadership 12th June 2020

How businesses can profit from the shift towards working from home

As a mass move to home working impacted countries across the world, it simply cannot be suggested that there are any ‘winners’ when a global crisis strikes. But many tech enterprises  – such as E-Learning apps, live streaming services, podcast creators, and online eCommerce sites – have been able to tap into what is now an immense online home audience that’s active 24/7 across varying time-zones. In China alone, 300 million of its population at home have reportedly used online software during the Coronavirus outbreak.

For several firms – such as Apple and Google – it’s also paved the way for innovation, diversifying their current proposition through the building of tools that are assisting the healthcare industry during a time of real need. Additionally, the pandemic has forced every sector to speed its processes up. It’s been vital to streamline offerings that meet ever-evolving customer demand – and that’s often been a huge shift from what they were previously providing. Organisations across the globe are being challenged to vastly alter their habits and create their very own ‘new normal’.

When it comes to working from home too, this isn’t a great change for many firms – millions of enterprises have this as part of their employment models. However, for those businesses that haven’t explored the powers of a remote workforce, it may have been more difficult to ‘trust’ that their employees were producing the same level of performance away from the office. And of course, for a large number of sectors – such as retail, manufacturing and the emergency services – it’s simply not possible.

But remote working provides a huge array of benefits and can positively contribute to the company’s bottom line. As the world contends with the shift away from the office – and practices social distancing – why should employers rethink how they operate to remain profitable even during a global crisis?

Productivity

For many employees, having the flexibility to work their roles around their lives is hugely advantageous. Individuals might be juggling childcare needs or have to wait at home for an important delivery, and so the ability to operate from home is often an attractive proposition. From a mental health and wellbeing point of view too, enabling workforces to take short breaks away from their screens when they need them – and not feel guilty about it – can help to reduce stress and improve motivation. Keeping to routines, making to-do lists, and erasing office-based distractions all contribute to being more engaged to complete tasks. And from a profitable angle, employees are able to use the time they’d take for the daily commute to log on and complete tasks swiftly. In addition, statistics have shown that when there’s a remote team, there’s less sick leave to contend with.

Office space

Renting premises results in a huge expense for organisations – especially those with a bulging workforce. And, while the majority of the world avoids the office, that might currently look like a particularly costly investment for many business leaders.

For those paying out to maintain their premises during the current climate, there’s a risk they might not be eligible for government grant schemes too – so it’s vital organisations know exactly where they stand and have assessed all potential financial implications when they take on new premises.

Away from the crisis, running an office can prove to be costly too, from the electricity to the equipment and IT infrastructure to install – those requirements soon add up.

A consideration for enterprises that require premises could be a flexible ‘hub’ option – where they rent a space when they use it.

Streamlined processes

Working smarter, investing in the right tech, and having a robust IT infrastructure in place so employees can complete their jobs can be hugely profitable for companies, because they’re getting a motivated individual with a high productivity rate, in return.

For those able to provide online services, this can not only improve efficiency but provide the end-user with a better digital experience – often resulting in a positive impact on their ROI.

Think about the accounting sector, for example. A firm with a complex process of completing a credit application form – involving printing off documents and manually filing them in – might lose out to the enterprise offering a swift solution with an electronic signature. Why? Because it reduces customers’ time and effort and removes complications.

Providing cost-saving opportunities for end-users, as well as employees, can help many organisations to become more profitable in the long run.

Environment and Community

With fewer commuters, there’s a greater benefit to the ecosystem because of less pollution and urban congestion. And without as much strain on infrastructure, things are likely to last longer.

Many businesses are capitalising on this too, becoming ‘green’ organisations – where they focus on rolling out practices that are better for the environment. Such a shift can go a long way to attracting customers who feel like their purchase is doing ‘something good’.

And for employees, it means they don’t necessarily have to live close to work – because they can log on from anywhere – which could help them to save hundreds of pounds in high rent or mortgage repayments each month.

For communities, people who don’t have to live on the edges of city boundaries – and can instead reside in the countryside – will help to reinvigorate their home village, city, or town and bolster local business trade, as a result.

Turnover and Recruitment

A lower rate of employees leaving their organisations has a profound impact on a company’s bottom line. If a firm can meet a staff member’s needs, trust them to work remotely, and motivate them daily – why would they depart? Once lockdown rules are relaxed, careful decisions will have to be made by employers in respect of allowing re-energised employees to continue working from home.

Organisations without working from home policy in place could risk losing valuable professionals who instead look for alternative roles with companies that are more flexible and agile. Additionally, with less turnover, this helps to reduce a costly – and often lengthy – recruitment process, and goes a long way to attracting top talent that is looking to work remotely.

What’s next?

Ultimately, working from home shouldn’t be seen as a ‘perk’ – it should be part of an organisation’s offering if they’re in a position to do so. It must now be viewed as a way of pushing productivity and enabling the business to perform better and become more profitable, as a result.

That involves having the correct technology in place – whether operating a ‘virtual office’, bringing in cloud-based solutions or smart software such as video conferencing – so that companies can bolster their bottom line with a seamless shift to remote operations.

Managers will have lots of questions to answer when the lockdown release date is revealed. For example, is it better to implement a phased return or will there be more calls for employees asking to work from home? Senior leaders are set to have critical responsibilities when ensuring their workforces remain motivated to do their jobs well now more than ever – especially when the company’s ROI depends on it during a challenging climate.

This article first appeared here.

 

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