While the benefits of working from home are immediately clear for employees, namely avoiding the daily commute and working to a schedule that suits them, the advantages for employers are not always quite so obvious. So how could you benefit from a more flexible approach that gives your employees the freedom to work from home? These are a few of the most compelling reasons why adopting flexible working practices could boost your small business.
1. LESS TIME SPENT COMMUTING
A reduction in the amount of time spent on a stressful and unpleasant commute is undoubtedly a benefit for employees, but it could also give your business a boost too. The health and wellbeing of your workforce have proven links to productivity and a reduction in absenteeism. Whether it’s an hour and a half train ride or a 30-minute drive through rush hour traffic, this is time they’ll never get back. When working from home, an employee arrives fresh at their desk and raring to go. Working from home also reduces their traveling costs, which means your employees can spend more of their money on the things they love. The result is a happier, healthier, and more motivated workforce.
2. IMPROVED EMPLOYEE RETENTION
One of the biggest headaches for small businesses is losing the employees that make them tick. Small businesses cannot always compete with larger organizations when it comes to salary and benefits, so it’s important to make the most of the advantages you do have. While endless meetings and outdated workplace practices might keep workers in larger organizations tied firmly to their desks, the agility and entrepreneurial spirit that’s alive and well in many small businesses can give employees the freedom they crave. Homeworking can give parents with childcare responsibilities the flexibility they need, while other workers can benefit from an enhanced work-life balance. Both of these factors play a crucial part in employee retention.
3. ACCESS TO A WIDER POOL OF APPLICANTS
One of the key drivers behind the rise in remote working is the ‘millennial effect’. Younger generations have grown up being able to communicate cheaply and effectively from anywhere in the world, so it follows that they expect the same in a workplace environment. For younger employees, workplace flexibility is one of the many factors they consider when looking for a new role. Numerous surveys have indicated that this is something that they want and expect. Offering this type of benefit can help employers attract young, highly skilled employees that might not otherwise be interested in a role. Giving employees the ability to work remotely also allows you to hire outside of normal commuting distance. This can be particularly beneficial in locations or professions with skills shortages, as small businesses can widen their nets and work with the most talented individuals, regardless of where they’re based.
4. LOWER COSTS
We’re probably preaching to the converted here but office space is expensive. If you rent office space then you can claim some of the costs back as part of your capital allowance, but it’s still likely to be one of the biggest fixed costs your business will have. We’re not necessarily advocating doing away with an office altogether, but by allowing your employees to work from home two days a week and operating a hot-desking policy the rest of the time, you could reduce the amount of office space you need. It’s true that hot-desking is not every employee’s favorite policy, but if it gives them the freedom to work from home for part of the week then there’s a good chance it will work.
5. MAKE BETTER USE OF TECHNOLOGY
Working from home would be impossible without the fantastic technology we have today. Technology is the key enabler of mobility, with fast Wi-Fi connections, smartphones, cloud computing, instant messaging, project management software, and VoIP allowing colleagues to communicate and collaborate instantaneously. The temptation might be to think that a remote workforce is a disparate workforce, but given these invaluable tools, these days that’s simply not the case. As well as putting the necessary technology in place, there are also a number of other steps you can take to give your home working arrangement the very best chance of success.