Some companies, typically larger ones such as IBM and State Farm, have moved a portion of their workforce off of the central work sites, either by having employees work from home or by placing them in co-working spaces, such as collaboration rooms. This is becoming a more attractive option for small and medium businesses who can use cloud-based technologies to expand their footprint and allow workers to utilize different surroundings.
In fact, according to Global Workforce Analytics, over 3.7 million people currently telecommute to work in the U.S., at least half of the time. Before your business takes the step of allowing workers to function remotely, a few myths may need to be exposed.
Myth: Remote Work is the Same as On-site Work
While about 50% of professions and disciplines can function autonomously, there are some that cannot. To eliminate the obvious, workers that provide a face-to-face service (such as cafeteria staff) or job site specific duties (construction) are out. Others may benefit from being on site, due to capital concerns. You wouldn’t want your cash room clerk to work from home, carting money to and fro every night, for instance.
The ones who can be looked at for remote work are the types that communicate almost exclusively via email and telephone anyway; your analysts, coordinators and agents who may have customer contact but not face-to-face contact.
Others are obviously remote capable, such as outside sales reps and those who work at multiple job locations. They are probably already working remotely, even if they do not have the tools to be accessible when they are away. And since an appropriately disciplined remote worker can save a company between $2000 and $7000 a year, it’s an opportunity that certainly deserves attention.
Myth: Employees Adapt Easily to Working from Home
It is a wondrous feeling to have a 2-minute commute walking down your stairs in slippers to go to the office, but the fact that work is always right around the corner is tough to put aside. The undisciplined worker can actually spend much more time “at the office” when the office is a few feet away, particularly during after-hours times.
Myth: Every Knowledge Worker Should Be Able to Work Remotely
No environment is a perfect fit for anyone, and the self-discipline required to work remotely is not always present. It may manifest in poor productivity or in emails sent out from the remote worker at unimaginable hours in the morning, either way reflecting work that is not being done during working hours.
Those who are great at setting and sticking to a routine, and those who have predefined times for conference calls and other checkpoints, tend to do better at working remote.
Enabling Remote Work via UCaaS
In the modern age, email has become a critical tool for business, but that doesn’t mean the telephone has gone away completely. A good Unified Communications as a Service product can enable a remote worker to have their business phone at their home office, or on their smartphone, with access as easy as dialing their extension.
Clearly, there are benefits and pitfalls with remote work, but the implementation of a solid UCaaS product enables your small or medium business to take every advantage when you can.