RBS hit the news this week when it extended its work from home policy to 50,000 members of staff, marking a huge sway towards long term work from home culture. Personnel expert Peter Cheese noted that this is “a moment of real change in the world of work” – and although companies are ostensibly doing it in order to protect their employees, they have a lot to gain from letting their staff stay at home.
Your small business could benefit too, if you apply working from home policies in a sensible and structured way.
Save on space
Real estate is expensive. The cost of renting out office space can be one of the largest outgoings that a company has to make, next to salaries and stock. By encouraging your employees to work at home, you can drastically decrease the amount of money that you need to spend, leaving you with more to invest into your company and your staff welfare.
If you think you’re going to need space so that employees can occasionally touch base in the office, then consider offering a hot desking facility. This could be at a significantly lower capacity than your usual office space – you might only need to accommodate 50% of the workforce at any one time, for instance – so the rate will still be lower.
Letting your staff work from home tells them that you trust them. It gives them control over their schedule and avoids the need for lengthy commutes which can devastate work-life balance. People who are able to work from home often find that they have more time to spend with their families or on looking after their mental wellbeing.
Do be mindful of the negative impact that working from home can have on colleagues too, though. For people who are already isolated, it can lead to feelings of loneliness and insecurity. For those without the necessary equipment, it can become a frustrating and tiring experience. It can also be harder for those at home to know when to clock off – and team members who overwork themselves will not perform well long term. All of this can be avoided with appropriate mitigations, such as occasional group get togethers and investment in equipment for your team.
Widen your talent pool
Companies that expect everyone to work from one location limit themselves to the talent available in that area. As soon as you broaden your mind to home working, you open yourself up to bright candidates from all over the country. If you’re willing to work asynchronously, with employees clocking on from different time zones, then your talent pool could even become global.
Reduce peripheral spending
How much do you spend on keeping your offices running and your employees happy to work there? Gas, electricity and water costs are a must. Then there are the costs of cleaning and maintaining the facilities. Perhaps you put plants in to help brighten the space up, or provide perks such as free food or coffee in addition to essentials like water coolers.
Even after you spend out on setting your team up with the right physical and digital tools for working at home comfortably, you are going to make considerable savings on these extra costs. This means that, in the long run, keeping working from home as a long term policy will likely improve both the productivity and finances of your small business.