Last year it was reported that half of the UK workforce would be working remotely by 2020. With flexi-hours and working from home increasingly becoming the norm, many businesses are considering making a permanent change to the way their business operates. Some key benefits of going remote include zero expenditure on office rent and utilities, no commute and the choice of picking from a wider pool of employees, as opposed to those willing to get to your office. Whilst converting from an office-based business to a remote company can seem like a daunting task, following a simple a process like the one outlined below will make the transition much easier
Fully consider if remote working would suit your business
Working from home is the dream for many employees and they would likely relish the opportunity. Research has revealed that working from home does increase productivity, but would it work practically for your business? One major factor to consider is cost. If you have a large team, do you have the funds to provide staff with a work laptop? If members of your team regularly take calls and telephone conferences, would you be willing to supply them with a smartphone or pay for their mobile bill?
Similarly, do you hold many face to face meetings? Or do your staff regularly hold huddles to discuss ideas? Whilst these issues can be overcome with the likes of Skype and SharePoint, would your clients and customers be happy with the new set-up?
Take time to study and record the daily routines of the business and if there are certain aspects that have a remote alternative. Also ask your staff, or people from different teams if you have a larger business, how they would feel about the change and any issues they could see arising.
Select your preferred cloud hosted platform
An integral part of any business which operates remotely is utilising a cloud-hosted platform. Microsoft Azure is a great example of a cloud computing service which works on most operating systems and any device, making it a top solution when it comes to staff accessibility. Cloud-hosted platforms mean all members of staff can be given access to the files they need and can engage easily with one another safely.
Establish a new way of communicating
One of the biggest challenges for staff, when a business transitions to a remote way of working, is lack of interaction with colleagues. Popping into an adjoining office for help or getting something completed quickly by visiting the IT department has been an effective way of working for a team thus far.
Organisations will need to establish a new way of communicating, through emails and messengers for more instant conversations. There will need to be set protocol as to how new channels of communication are utilised and who is responsible for shared inboxes or client email addresses. Office 365 is fast becoming the most popular collaboration tool for businesses and is relatively easy to set up.
Do a trial run first!
During the transition to a potentially remote business model, you will want to trial run systems. Perhaps have a remote trial week for the whole business or rotate different departments to work from home to see how the organisation operates. Short periods of time trialling the remote way of working will flag up any issues and inconsistencies that need to be ironed out.
Similarly, during trial periods, ensure your staff know how their roles and responsibilities may alter. Senior management will need to cement expectations when it comes to working hours and productivity goals. However, there should also be a fair and open line of communication for staff who do not feel the new arrangement suits them.
Make a decision and inform your employees
After months and even years of planning, the time has come to go remote or scrap your plans. If you are confident the business can survive without an office you will need to make a formal internal announcement that includes the date the office will close its doors for good. If you own a large organisation, phasing different departments of staff onto the remote way of working may be easier than the entire building vacating at once. Set out specific plans, prepare for hiccups and enable months for a full transition if needed.
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