Owning and operating a small business is no easy task. Just ask the almost 6 million small business owners in the UK. From finding and retaining good talent, to developing strategies for business growth and wearing a multitude of hats, operating a small business is not for the faint of heart.
In addition to the many challenges that small business owners face, one that may have been unexpected in 2020 was the move to remote work. While some struggled in adapting to this shift, it is not necessarily a new phenomenon that began in response to the pandemic. In fact, a report from GetApp that was released in January last year showed that over the past decade, remote work increased by a whopping 400%!
Some of my small business colleagues have balked at the notion of having remote work be a commonality in their business. However, I believe that there are vast benefits to supporting a remote work culture. If making remote work permanent in your business is a commitment you’re weighing up, let me provide some incentive by listing a few benefits that I have seen by doing so. (Side note: For 15-years I operated a small business with a majority remote workforce).
Acquisition of better talent
I have encountered many business owners and job seekers who have pursued a job opening only to have it fall apart because of an unwillingness or inability to relocate. While having a headquarters can have benefits, requiring that your employees be in the office limits your talent pool to a certain geographic area.
When you accommodate remote work, you can acquire talent no matter where employees are based, and use technologies such as RingCentral to ensure staff can stay connected and productive.
Acquiring the necessary skill set to propel your business is challenging enough; don’t limit yourself by proximity. Rather, create a remote work environment that improves your chances of hiring the best employees possible.
I recently had a conversation with a business owner who told me they wanted all of their employees in the office so he could ensure they were doing their work. Setting aside his control and micro-management issues, it is not proven that being on-site will lead to a better work product or increased efficiency.
In fact, a study conducted in the UK showed that 65% of workers felt they would be more productive by working from a home office versus a traditional office. This is quite an increase and will only serve to benefit the small businesses where they work.
Happier, healthier, and more engaged employees
When I ran a small business, one of the biggest challenges I faced was the ability to compete for talent with enterprise organisations. I wasn’t alone, either ‘ it’s a common struggle for many small businesses. We cannot necessarily match the salaries and benefits offered by larger organisations. Other perks such as gym memberships, generous stock options and top tier health insurance are also very difficult to compete with.
However, one of the things small businesses can offer is the satisfaction and happiness ‘ yes, happiness ‘ that comes with being able to work remotely. This was evidenced by a 2019 study from Owl Labs that showed that 83% of workers stated they would be happier if they could work remotely.
Additionally, the respondents said they would feel more trusted, which would reduce their stress and help them better manage their work-life balance. All of these factors are incredibly beneficial to your employees and for many are more important than a financially-focussed compensation package.
The events of the world have only served to expedite the adoption of remote working. Rather than looking to go back to a brick and mortar environment, small businesses would do well to consider the benefits of a remote workforce, the cost savings associated and the benefits their customers will receive as a result of happier, healthier and more productive employees.
This article comes courtesy of RingCentral, a leading business communications platform providing unified communications, contact centre and customer engagement as a service.