From flexible hours to an easier commute, working from home seems like an ideal option for many employees and it can have a lot of benefits for business owners too.
In this article, Peter Watton of matched betting start-up OddsMonkey, offers his advice to businesses who might be considering offering a working from home policy.
The average working day for a UK office worker looks a lot different today than it did a few decades ago. Flexible working options are more common, and many of us have the opportunity to work from home.
However, large corporations like Yahoo and IBM have started backtracking their support for working from home (WFH) policies and have cancelled many of the remote working systems they had in place, despite backlash from their employees.
This reduction in remote working suggests that not all big companies are able to handle the different issues that working from home brings, or see the benefits it can deliver.
Growing popularity in UK
Yet more and more small businesses in the UK seem to be leaning towards letting their staff work from home at least one day a week. Policies like these are even considered deal-breakers for many job hunters.
In fact, almost three quarters of workers would like to have the option of working from home, due to factors like the cost of commuting and the money they could save on childcare costs. You can find more reasons why it’s so popular in this study into commuting and working from home.
Clearly, it’s worth exploring why remote working is such a popular strategy from a small business perspective, so I’ll be taking you through some of the key reasons why SMEs (and their employees) see working from home as an advantage. This should help you decide whether it’s worth implementing a work from home policy in your business.
1. It can improve employee wellbeing
The most obvious benefit of having a WFH policy is that it can actually make your employees happier. This is because the mental health and wellbeing of your staff is likely to improve if they have opportunities to work in an environment that they feel comfortable in and being away from the office can help them feel more content.
This morale boost can be good news for you as an employer, as happier employees are usually more productive.
2. It can increase staff loyalty
Looking after the wellbeing of your staff by offering a WFH policy can also help with issues surrounding loyalty.
Staff often feel supported and valued because of the trust employers give them when they allow them to work from home, which improves the relationship between the employer and employee. This means that staff retention will increase as your workers will be less likely to quit or choose to work elsewhere. They may also work harder as result.
3. It can attract the right talent
A WFH policy can also help you attract the right talent when recruiting because you can hire people from further afield if they don’t have to worry about commuting into the office every day.
Whether they’re in a different city, country, or continent, you can find someone with the exact set of skills you’re looking for and benefit from their expertise as long as they can do their work remotely.
4. It can provide diversity and a variety of roles
WFH policies are great if you’re trying to improve diversity in your business by attracting people with families or commuting issues.
By allowing them to choose which days or hours they work remotely, they can achieve a greater work/life balance, which means they don’t have to sacrifice their other commitments. So, you’ll be a much more appealing employer than your competitors who don’t have WFH policies, and you’ll attract a more varied pool of applicants.
5. It can save you money
Whether you’re saving money on office space or supplies, having fewer staff working in-house day-to-day can help keep your overheads low.
If you experience a boost in productivity, you can make more money, and you can save on missed work due to sick days and absenteeism as staff will have the option to simply work from home if they feel too unwell to come in.
Plus, individual employees don’t have to fork out for travel expenses and lunches, so their wages will go further too.
6. It can streamline your processes
Having your employees work from home can actually streamline a lot of your day-to-day processes by getting rid of meetings — especially now that emails, instant messaging, and other forms of digital communication mean that everyone can stay up to date in real time.
Decisions and ideation sessions can take place remotely through these conferencing methods if need be but, overall, everyone can get on with their work and stay in touch without interruption.
7. It can be good for PR
There’s nothing wrong with admitting that many SMEs choose to implement WFH policies because they look good to people outside the company.
If you can manage to be flexible and achieve excellent results in terms of productivity and profit, it will become a great part of your company culture. Then, you can use your reputation for flexibility to attract employees, clients, and business partners that have similar attitudes.
8. It can help save the planet
Working from home has the added benefit of potentially being better for the planet. Fewer vehicles will be used commuting to and from the office, and power consumption in the office will be reduced, all of which can, according to the Carbon Trust help UK employers to cut carbon emissions by 3 million tonnes per year.
There are many reasons why people want to work from home, and there are plenty of ways it can benefit you as an employer too. The points in this article can help you decide whether working from home is right for your SME and could even help you justify putting WFH policies in place for you and your employees.
More from ByteStart
ByteStart is packed with help and tips on all aspects of managing people. Check out some of our most popular guides;
Motivating your team
- How to Design an Effective Incentive Scheme for Your Small Business
- 5 Ways to Motivate Your Staff Without Spending a Fortune
- Having Fun at Work – Is it Something Your Business Should be Aiming For?
- Interviewing Job Candidates – How to Get it Right
- Making a Contractual Job Offer to a New Employee
- Managing Staff Sickness Absence – A Guide for Small Businesses
- Guide to Employment Contracts for Small Businesses
- What Employers Need to Know About Hiring Staff From Overseas
- What is Employers Liability Insurance, and Is My Business Legally Required to Have Cover?