The coronavirus pandemic was, needless to say, a defining global event with far-reaching consequences for businesses in the UK. Many were successfully able to pivot to remote working arrangements, in order to continue operating while adhering to new government restrictions on gathering. But as the pandemic restrictions eased and life returned largely to normal, remote working arrangements remained. Why are such arrangements still in such high demand?
The core driver behind the continued success of remote working programmes is the advancement of technology – from inexpensive and powerful hardware to cloud-based software solutions, and even more equitable access to complex internal server system infrastructures. These advancements are impactful across departments, too, allowing employees at every level to benefit from access to quality tools even at home.
Remote communication platforms like Slack, Microsoft Teams and Zoom are extremely powerful, enabling teams and departments to liaise and present to one another without significant barriers to progress. Speaking of progress, cloud-based HR systems allow employee progression and development to be tracked centrally and remotely; they also provide more immediate access to company training and documentation, strengthening the workforce and reducing staff turnover costs in the process.
Wider Candidate Pools
Retaining remote working programmes after the pandemic has also enabled businesses to expand their prospects with regard to the workforce. Typical roles pre-pandemic would require candidates to be local, to re-locate or to otherwise commit to a long commute. This effectively narrows candidate pools to a relatively small geographic area, which can be limiting in certain cases.
Remote working capabilities allow businesses to widen their candidate pool, and field applicants from across the country. This gives a greater chance of finding a candidate well-suited to a given role. This can also go some way to counteracting the impact of rising inflation; increased costs in both public and private transport might disenfranchise workers from applying to in-person roles in the short term.
Rising costs are not just impacting employees, but also businesses. Overheads – in particular, those relating to fuel and energy – have increased near-exponentially, while barriers to trade have caused raw material and stock costs to rise too. As such, the survival of many businesses hinges on the reduction of costs. Remote working allows businesses to reduce their cost burdens relating to physical premises, downsizing offices or even eliminating them altogether.
Lastly, but perhaps most importantly of all, remote working gets results. Regardless the various justifications for continuing with remote work programmes, experimental evidence suggests that remote working increases employee productivity – to some extent, due to a reduction in stress and negative psychological outcomes. Simply put, remote work could well be the future for growing businesses.