Remote working: The small business bargaining chip

In this article, Jesper Frederiksen examines how remote working options can set small businesses apart from their competitors.

Offering remote working options to staff should not be seen as a risk for small businesses. Often, managers in an organisation with small staff numbers get concerned about productivity levels when employees work out of the office. However, research has found that 77 per cent of employees report greater productivity when working remotely. Not only can small businesses utilise this increased productivity, but remote working can also set them apart from their larger competitors.

Race ahead of the competition with business agility

Large organisations do not always have the capabilities to easily roll out remote working options. They have a greater number of staff across more locations, which can make this a difficult policy to introduce. They will also often be well-established businesses, and could well be lumbered with outdated business software and working models which can hinder the adoption of remote working.

Small businesses can use this to their advantage. While the competition may keep staff office-bound, small businesses can create a unique selling point for potential new hires through remote working policies. Staff are keen to join organisations that provide flexibility in the work space and holiday options. Remote working is the tool which enables this. Potential staff members, debating whether to accept a job offer, are likely to be swayed by the additional benefits of a particular organisation. Whilst large incumbents might have firepower in terms of salary options, perks like remote working can prove to be a vital bargaining chip for small competitors.

Remote infrastructure

So how can small organisations develop remote working as a unique selling point? Well, the office as we know it is changing. Cloud computing, smartphones and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies are enabling staff to work whenever and wherever they choose. We can kiss goodbye to filing cabinets and desktop computers in the office. An office is no longer a fixed location. It’s now located wherever staff are; at home, a coffee shop, on a train. Collaboration tools mean staff can work together even when spread across multiple locations. We’ve already established that sometimes large businesses are using outdated systems which don’t enable remote working. Small businesses have the opportunity to start fresh, adopting the most up-to-date technologies which enable them to leapfrog the competition. Remote working capabilities can be introduced from the off, allowing onboarding staff to get to work swiftly, whilst also reducing the need for immediate office space and the costs this involves.

Small businesses should invest in the appropriate infrastructure that gives staff this option. It can give them the edge over other businesses while also providing substantial return on investment in the long run.

Establishing work objectives

Of course, remote working options need carefully thought through HR policies for staff, much like other IT usage guides. Managers need to establish work objectives with staff early on in a remote working roll out. Some staff members will be able to reach these objectives when working from home, while others might require a team environment to complete their work. This can differ by industry and department, and requires oversight from senior management. In a lot of cases, senior staff who are established in their role are able to set their own work targets and meet them due to their independent work ethic and experience. Graduate and junior members of staff can value working alongside a team, in person. It provides a buffer where they can bounce ideas around and check any doubts regarding work decisions with more senior staff. The benefits of remote working are great, but to avoid any problems down the line, small businesses need to evaluate how individual members of staff will feel about adopting the policy.

Technology is the tool making telework possible. As the concept of the modern workplace gets disrupted, you can expect to see more and more businesses enabling staff to complete their work wherever they wish.

Further reading on remote working

Jesper Frederiksen

Jesper Frederiksen

Jesper Frederiksen managing director of EMEA at DocuSign.

Related Topics

Flexible Working

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