What Are the Benefits of a Remote Workforce?

The last year has brought about a number of challenges for businesses around the world. A sudden loss of demand for a product or service, problems with supply of materials, governments forcing closures of non-essential businesses, and employees being forced to work remotely.

However, as Benjamin Franklin once said, “out of adversity comes opportunity”. Many businesses, previously reluctant to let their staff ‘Work from Home’ have had to adapt.

In a recent study by Deloitte, 97% of Chief Financial Officers surveyed expect an increase in flexible working in the long-term. This is predicted to see an increase in ‘Home Working’ from 5% of the UK workforce in 2019 to as high as 25% by 2025.

What Could This Mean For Your Business?

Well, many things. These include saving money on office space and a more productive workforce who could replace their commuting time with working time.

But this could also have an impact on your recruitment.

If you have a vacancy for a position that can be carried out remotely, and your business is based in Stirling, does it matter if your new hire lives in Falkirk or Felixstowe? If you need niche skills but your business is based a few hundred miles from a concentration of candidates with those niche skills, you no longer need to take the risk of relocating someone (and their family). Your pool of candidates has potentially grown massively. According to an O2 Report on ‘Employee Connectivity’, 67% of employees place flexible working within their top five benefits. Offering your staff the opportunity to work from home may be the critical factor in a great candidate choosing to work for you rather than one of your competitors.

However, to play Devil’s Advocate, it should also be noted that 30% of people surveyed by O2 admit that it is lonely working from home and 26% miss socialising informally with colleagues. So, genuine flexibility offering a blend of home and office-based working may be the best solution.

One reason that new candidates often give for looking for a new role is that they are becoming tired of the travelling involved in their job. With us all becoming more and more used to online meetings, your staff retention could also improve if you encourage the continuation of these virtual meetings, even when we are allowed to meet face-to-face again.

Also on the theme of retention, a remote working option could prevent you losing a key staff member if they needed to relocate due to their partner’s work. One of my own family members has recently moved to a new continent but is continuing to work for their UK employer. In fact, the government of Barbados is actively encouraging foreigners to temporarily relocate to the Caribbean to work remotely in sunnier climes. It beats looking out at a Scottish winter when working, that’s for sure!

In summary, the negative effects of the pandemic are vast and well documented. However, businesses have been forced to change their working practices and processes out of necessity and some of these changes can clearly have benefits to your business in the long term.