Home working: is it working?

We’ve seen many changes in 2020, in every sphere of life. Some of them may not actually affect our lives for long, and we’ll soon be back to the way we were. Others have transformed the world permanently.

It’s likely that one of the most long-lasting changes is people working from home.

It was already a growing trend. In 2009, there were around 884,000 home workers in the UK. By 2019 this figure had risen to over 1,500,000.

So will we all be returning to our offices soon? Don’t count on it: in a recent survey, more than a quarter of Scottish firms said that they were permanently cutting office space. For many people, working from home is here to stay.

That’s a good thing. Or at least it can be… working from home eliminates the time, expense, hassle and environmental damage of commuting. It makes it easier to manage other commitments, such as childcare. And it can provide an environment in which it’s easier to focus.

Interestingly, though, in the same survey only 10% of the firms said that increasing home working had improved their productivity. Around half said that they were now less productive. The conclusion is clear: if remote working is a feature of your organisation, it will only be successful if you give people the tools they need to work together effectively.

In 2009, most of those 884,000 home workers could probably only communicate with others by phone or email. Today, the possibilities are much greater. The best remote working solutions:

• offer chat, voice calls, and video calls
• let people share their desktop and transfer files
• let several people work on the same file simultaneously
• work seamlessly with other software like CRM packages
• work with any sort of device from a desktop to a mobile phone
• provide excellent security at all times.

There are several great options to choose from, and we can advise you on which is right for your organisation. The benefits of getting it right are considerable. Research by our partners suggests that if you introduce home working correctly you can see:

• employee productivity increase by up to 20%
• office operating expenses go down (by 30% on average)
• employee satisfaction go up by over 50%.

We believe that in 2021 we’ll see many more employees asking to work from home, at least some of the time. We hope that employers will see that as an opportunity, and will take the steps required to make sure that home working works for everyone.