‘Working from home.’ Those three little words that create envy and suspicion. But whilst your mates are begrudging the fact they have to report for duty while you’re sprawled on the couch with your laptop at home, it’s actually your employer who’ll be having the last laugh.
Not only do they benefit from a proven boost in staff morale, they also get to save money. Lots of money.
According to a report in The Guardian, allowing all staff to work from home one day a week – where it is possible and practical to do so – will not only lead to increased productivity but also cut business costs by a predictable 20% due to being able to fully close the office one day in five.
Here’s how that money is saved:
Flexible working can save on office rent, car parking spaces and general running costs. BT now saves £2.2 million per year through flexible working hours, whilst Suffolk County Council recently implemented more remote working practices and was able to reduce the size of its new operational centre by a third.
Office space remains one of the biggest overheads for small to medium sized businesses and, for those that can’t necessarily shut down one day a week to cut costs; you can reduce overheads by downsizing your office space. It’s often unnecessary to have a fixed desk space for every staff member; they could be off work, out at meetings or working from home. When their desk is empty, you are wasting money paying for that space. By downsizing and having a rotation of staff working remotely, you can save a considerable amount on office overheads.
Not only does remote working increase employee satisfaction, it also helps businesses save on power, paper and general hardware use. But it’s technology that’s at the core of making flexible working work for business owners as well as staff.
Technology can often be free or cheap to use and accessible everywhere (OK, maybe not the Tube). Consider sending documents via cloud technology and using cloud storage solutions to enable staff in various locations to access critical documents outside of the office. In addition, you’ll save on printing, filing and general document storage costs if everything can be accessed and processed at the click of a mouse. In fact, a recent report showed that cloud computing could enable companies to save over £6billion in energy bills and reduce carbon emissions by 85.7 tonnes per year by 2020.
The reality is that making infrastructure and technological changes might not work for every SME but in order to make the most out of the flexible working mandate, small business owners should consider the savings on offer and look to embrace a truly virtual workplace environment.