Although most small businesses in the UK employ no one but the owner, nearly 25% have employees. If your business is expanding and you are starting to take on staff, it’s worthwhile considering giving them the flexibility to work from home.
A key advantage for small businesses of having employees who can work from anywhere, at any time, and who aren’t tied to their desks means that they can be more responsive – one of the biggest advantages small businesses have over their larger competitors.
Technology such as video conferencing, social media groups and instant messenger can create a ‘virtual office’ to enhance collaboration while obviating the need for employees to be physically present in an office. If the majority of your work happens on the computer and online, the location of the person is no longer important – as long as they have a reliable Internet connection.
Studies have shown that people who work from home are happier and more productive. You may expect people to have more interruptions at home, but for many people office distractions can be a major source of procrastination: it’s often easier to focus on a task at home.
Here are some of the ways it can pay to allow working from home:
• If you yourself are working from home, letting your employees do the same may mean that you don’t need to go to the expense of renting office space, or at least reduce the size of the space needed.
• You’ll increase the size of the talent pool available – more people will apply for your vacancy if where they live is less of a factor.
• You’ll be helping the environment by reducing commuting – and also reduce the risk of your employees not making it into work because of bad weather or transport disruption.
• People love being able to work from home! As many jobs don’t offer this, your employees will be more loyal – surveys suggest 24% of British workers would rather work from home one day a week than receive a pay rise.
What happens when you skip the commute, work to your own schedule, and with fewer distractions? Your productivity increases and you can do the same job in less time. At the end of the day, giving your employees the flexibility to work from home could give your small business the competitive advantage it needs.