Is the traditional office dead? 10 truths about working-from-home

WeBC May 23, 2018

Is the office experience dead? This post discusses the benefits of the work-from-home model and how employers can finally gain the cost benefits of no real estate.

Most employers hate the idea of going virtual, but companies in Canada increasingly choose to shrink their real estate footprint and adopt work-from-home.

But who watches the staff? Are they working or running errands? I’m here to tell you that it’s time to let go of traditional concerns. Technology solves many issues with a virtual workforce. An entire sub-segment of the industry devotes itself to enabling mobile workers to be efficient, effective, and connected.

Get the ebook

Employees working remotely have diverse needs. The “6 Common Types of Remote Workers” ebook identifies six types of remote workers and how to support them with a secure and adaptable infrastructure. (Requires registration) Link here.

 10 truths about working-from-home

  1. It started in the 90s
  2. It’s very popular
  3. It improves morale
  4. It’s weather-sensitive
  5. Its’ family-friendly
  6. It gets us out of jams
  7. It cuts down on noise
  8. It attracts top talent
  9. It’s not automatically secure
  10. It’s easy to try

 It started in the ’90s

Working this way is not new. Fueling a dotcom revolution, garages and basements made it affordable for startups to launch their e-commerce business. Dotcom entrepreneurs challenged the business status quo.
Employees worked long hours for a piece of the dot-com pie. Equity deals, trendy warehouse-style offices, office daycare, and yes, working from home all became the norm in the new work paradigm.

It’s very popular

According to StatsCan, over a million Canadian employees (not self-employed) work from home either part-time or full-time. And that number’s growing. Along with ecommerce, the tech boom of the early new millennium delivered tools like laptops, tablets, email, and smartphones, all of which further enabled people to work virtually.

It improves morale

You might find that morale improves after implementing a work-from-home program. Keep in mind that happy employees take fewer sick days and stay longer in their roles.

Structure regular points of contact like a weekly status meeting and productivity scorecards to monitor staff working remotely.

You may need a permanent contingent in the office to operate your business. Nevertheless, depending on your company size, job sharing might offer flexible schedules to employees and normally offer few perks.

It’s weather-sensitive

When the sun shines brightly or yet another snowstorm rolls in, employees just call in sick. But there’s no need for that. Your work-from-home program can allow for weather days, good and bad. This workaround can help you recover otherwise lost productivity.

It’s family-friendly

Everyone gets sick, especially kids. If you have children, you’ve called in sick or worked from home to tend to them. For young families who struggle with the crazy costs of private daycares and must fight for limited government-funded daycare spots, a flex work program can help alleviate the pressure.

It gets us out of jams

Have you ever left a job because the commute became too much to bear? Why lose good employees? The traffic issues in major cities seem to worsen every year. And parking costs add up fast. A flex program can help cut down costs, risks, etc.

It cuts down on noise

As collaborative as some an office seems, many feel hectic, noisy, and stressful. While offices tend to be much quieter than most workplaces, constant interruptions dampen productivity. A flex program can help reduce the noise in your space.

Per Canada Safety Council: “Even at low levels, unwanted sounds can constitute health and safety hazards by increasing stress levels, and impairing communication and concentration.”

 It attracts top talent

For some top producers, having a flexible schedule outweighs a higher salary. Attract top talent to your company by strategically developing a work-from-home or flex work program. In fact, it’s expected in many professions today…

It’s not automatically secure

When people share files and use devices outside of your office, they need to do so securely. That’s not always the case with virtual offices. If you’re not sure, you should speak to your IT team or a Microsoft-certified partner about what you use.

It’s easy to try

Do you believe working from home can unlock more productivity and inspire more loyalty? Maybe it’s worth performing a test to see. Implement a task-based management approach, and see how employees focus on completing clearly scoped, incremental assignments working from home. I bet you’ll see their productivity soar.

Try a pilot project

Start small. Put limits on frequency: one day a week or once a month. Establish touch points. Provide mobile devices like Surface and a secure document-sharing system like SharePoint. Switch to Office 365 and take advantage of all the productivity apps to ensure your work-from-home program succeeds.

Optimize your program

Introduce new productivity apps like Skype for Business, which keeps employees connected with measurable results. Team members can “see” each other in real-time, chat, share files, and hold unlimited audio and video conferencing meetings.

Need people to follow along – share your screen in your meeting and conduct your presentation.

Regardless of the structure of your flex program, I suggest you take steps to launch one in your organization. One day, your business may depend on it to grow. Enable your success today with the team that’s helped you get this far.

Get the ebook

Employees working remotely have diverse needs. The “6 Common Types of Remote Workers” ebook identifies six types of remote workers and how to support them with a secure and adaptable infrastructure. (Requires registration) Link here.

This article is part of a series written by Microsoft in partnership with Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada.

About WeBC

WeBC is a non-profit organization devoted to helping BC women launch, lead and scale their own businesses. Our full range of services includes business loans up to $150K, business advice, skills training, mentoring, resources and a supportive community to help women entrepreneurs realize their business potential. Connect with us today for personalized support for your business!

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