The future of your business: is it home or away?

This year, we've not only learnt that many businesses can work remotely, we're starting to consider just how remote that could be.

The future of your business: is it home or away?

This year, we’ve not only learnt that many businesses can work remotely, we’re starting to consider just how remote that could be.

At the start of the pandemic, one of the biggest questions for fellow business owners was how we’d cope with our teams working remotely. A couple of months down the line, we found it wasn’t such a hard shift, and asked what the future of the office looked like. Now, CEOs are wondering how this will shape the structure of our teams, with some employees working remotely forever or from further away.

Historically, I’ve always liked seeing my team together in our office. I think visibility is important, and in a company where collaboration is frequent, being in the same space has great benefits. Yet, we’re the best part of a year into this scenario and it turns out that remote working works well for us. 

Last year I locked up my London flat and spent the summer working from Spain, where my parents live. Then the second lockdown arrived in November and I headed to Dubai. I thought I’d be here for as long as London was in that lockdown, but I’m writing this in January, and I’m still in Dubai. 

For many, working from their homes hasn’t been ideal, but for those who do enjoy the set up, it’s now possible and proven to be productive. Being four hours ahead means I have time in the morning to get started on my work, and can use my afternoons for meetings. This is probably the longest practical time difference where you can still work collaboratively, but not all roles require the same synchroneity.

We’ve had the tools to work this way for some years. Yet it’s taken a pandemic to force us into new habits and processes that are making many business owners consider how present their teams need to be. As vaccination ramps up and a return to office life feels more tangible, I’m wondering how we make the most of these learnings and freedoms. 

We surveyed our team in May and saw that 77% wanted a hybrid set up in the future, spending just a few days in the office every week post-pandemic. The idea of spending 5 days in an office, or 5 months all in the same place, is now uncertain. How we use this opportunity to shape the future of working is up to us.

I’ve seen the benefits of this flexibility for a number of people at MarketFinance. Obviously, as CEO I have more freedom in choosing my working hours and patterns. But managers and juniors alike have spread across the world for stints of varying lengths. We’ve had people relocate to other parts of the country now that city life is less relevant. Crucially, we’ve not seen anyone’s performance impacted by being away.

And it’s not just a question of wanting a change of scene from city life or Northern European winters. One mother was able to comfortably work from home as she neared her due date, and will be able to make an easier transition when she chooses to come back to work. And for those with disabilities, taking out the daily back and forth between home and the office makes work life more manageable.

We’ve been hiring since the summer and from a much larger pool of legitimate applicants. For roles that are more siloed such as data and tech engineers, there’s no reason these employees need to be in the office, whenever they reopen fully. Now, we’re able to hire the best person in the world for the role, not just the best person happy to commute to Shoreditch. 

Where there’s less geographic focus and a lower need for collaboration, the process becomes more meritocratic. Finding the right talent in other geographies may seem difficult and overwhelming, but there are companies that can help. Omnipresent and Deel have both been set up to enable businesses to find the best people and keep them on payroll, wherever they’re based. 

The office and physical working environments no longer seem as necessary to success for many businesses. Yes, the social and collaborative aspects tie us together, but business goes on wherever we all are. 

Anil Stocker
Anil Stocker

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