Remote Working – More Important than Money?
Ask an employer what the most important factors for choosing a job, and you’ll get a variety of answers. The most obvious ones are competitive salary, performance/bonus pay, health/retirement benefits, and a comfortable working environment. But for college grads and young workers new to the work force, there’s something even more important – the flexibility to work from anywhere!
Cisco recently published an infographic highlighting the new “workplace currencies”. They interviewed hundreds of college grads and young workers from around the world. Here are some interesting facts from the survey:
- 3 out of 5 young workers said they want to work remotely with a flexible schedule.
- 7 out of the 10 people surveyed said the think going into the office regularly is unnecessary.
- 1 out of 4 people felt their productivity increased working outside of the office.
What’s most interesting to me is the paradox that a majority of people surveyed wanted to work remotely, but only 1 out of 4 felt like their productivity would increase from home. I’m not sure this helps their case for a remote working arrangement.
In 2011, the concept of “the office” has changed. A generation ago it was unthinkable for office employees to work remotely. The tools and technology didn’t exist for them to produce and stay connected to the team. But now that we have tools like cloud storage, broadband Internet, laptops, and smartphones, working remotely is more feasible, and in many ways more cost effective.
A business can realize significant cost savings with a mobile workforce. Imagine being able to lease/buy a smaller office (or no office). Utilities would certainly shrink. You wouldn’t have to stock the fridge with as much food and drink. But most important, you would be able to tout remote working as a benefit.
Before setting up your mobile office, you need to carefully plan what tools, technologies, and services your company will need. Furthermore, you’ll need to create some processes and boundaries for your remote work force.
Here are some quick tips for setting up a mobile office:
- Use cloud-based email and file storage. My favorite is Google Apps. They offer plans from either $5/mo per user, or $50/user per year (almost a 20% savings). They also offer a free plan with less storage and no support. Cloud-based email and document storage eliminates the need for a dedicated server and IT professional.
- Use web conferencing software for collaboration – There’s no need for everybody to drive down to the office for a meeting. With modern web conferencing applications, you can whiteboard, chat, video-conference, and collaborate from the convenience of your home. You can also record meetings, so that team members who missed the live meeting, or didn’t take good notes, can refer back to the online meeting.
- Use reliable laptops and smartphones – One of the interesting notes from Cisco’s survey was that workers preferred to choose their own hardware. If you’re a small business on a shoestring budget, you can encourage workers to use their own devices. According to the survey, most workers would prefer this. If that’s not an option, just make sure you invest in good hardware and software. To make your life even easier, buy everybody the same models. This will eliminate calling a dozen different hardware and software vendors when issues arise.
These are just a few quick tips for setting up a remote office, but as you can see it’s not that difficult. As technology and mobility continue to improve, expect more of your workers to want this kind of flexibility.
Here’s the infographic created from the Cisco survey.