By Fahad Alrajhi
President Fahad Alrajhi Group
At a time when some entrepreneurial businesses need as many advantages as possible, remote work is helping to level the playing field against bigger corporations. But while a remote workforce reduces hard costs and can be a hiring advantage, it is not without its pitfalls. Whether working from home will benefit your business may depend on your industry as well as the individual needs of your employees.
As someone who seeks to foster a culture of entrepreneurship, I work closely with business owners to position them for growth. We are watching this trend closely, because of its many potential benefits. A recent survey found that 62% of respondents would consider leaving a brick-and-mortar job for a remote role. And 86% of those surveyed believe that remote work is here to stay. So, if your business is in a growth mode, remote technology may be something to consider.
What are the benefits of having a remote workforce?
There are many advantages to either downsizing or eliminating your brick-and-mortar office space. They include:
• Lower office expenses. You’ll save money on everything from rent to electricity and maintenance. Eliminating parking fees may be another consideration.
• Increased employee satisfaction. Working remotely magnifies the ability to identify each other’s strengths so you assign tasks to them that will enable them to thrive. It also eliminates commute time, allowing for more personal time for family, friends, pets, etc. Flexible schedules and not having to dress professionally every day can also be advantages. The type of employees most likely to embrace working remotely include family-oriented individuals and those who live far from the office.
• Greater access to high-caliber employees. Offering a remote work environment increases your candidate pool. Applicants are no longer limited by driving distance. You may also attract quality candidates who must work from home due to disabilities, chronic illnesses, etc.
• Higher employee productivity. Until this year, many companies have had open, friendly office environments. It’s normal for employees to waste time chatting and joking. That is automatically reduced by remote working.
• More excitement about team building. While there’s less time for chatting, employees still want to bond with one another. That leads to an increased excitement for out-of-office staff meetings and team-building activities.
• More opportunities to be proactive. In an office environment, we often feel the need to act quickly on the circumstances in front of us. Working remotely gives us plenty of time to be proactive instead of reactive to our day-to-day operations.
• Increasing efficiency. You may discover opportunities to merge or completely eliminate some job positions.
What are some of the cautions to consider about a remote workforce?
Despite these many benefits, having a remote workforce may be counterproductive. Some considerations include:
• It may be impractical to move some roles to a home office. Equipment and/or space requirements may make it impractical to do some tasks from home.
• Some individuals work better in an office setting. Some employees find it difficult to manage distractions and stay focused while working from home. Lack of peer encouragement can cause others to feel disconnected and even unmotivated to achieve.
• Expatriates may feel particularly isolated. Being away from their home country, expats often consider their business colleagues to be their closest ‘family.’
• Your digital infrastructure and processes must work effectively. Remote work tests the maturity of a company’s digitization. To make urgent work decisions, some companies have had to send employees to dig through files at the office during lockdown.
Best practice tips for improving remote worker productivity
Based on my company’s substantial experience in helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses in a global environment, I can confidently say the most important action you can take if you want to improve remote worker productivity is to allocate budget for your digital infrastructure.
We now spend more on technology infrastructure (such as web conferencing software, collaboration tools, security software, cloud storage) and less on physical infrastructure (office space and furniture, for example). In today’s environment, efficiency goes hand-in-hand with technology.
Biography: Fahad Al-Rajhi
Fahad Al-Rajhi is an entrepreneur, business owner, stock portfolio manager and shareholder of successful companies. He has extensive experience in founding and leading businesses in industry sectors including real estate, retail, media and advertising and education. He is the president of Fahad Alrajhi Group and Unique Vision Group, and is the chairman of Next Generation School, Elabelz and Alrajhi Seventh. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Cambridge International College and a master’s degree in marketing from Griffith University.