How remote working can help businesses to cut costs
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It’s not surprising that remote working is at the top of the agenda for many businesses at the moment. Following government advice during the COVID-19 pandemic, workers were advised to work from home if they possibly could – with official figures revealing that 49% of the UK workforce were doing so during April 2020. Remote working was slowly becoming more commonplace before COVID-19, but the last few months have really seen it skyrocket into the mainstream.
Workers are keen for flexible working for a range of reasons; with increased work-life balance at the top of the list. Businesses, however, may need more convincing. Understandably, many businesses are concerned about the possible disruptive effects such a permanent change could have – research from Direct Line, for example, shows that even smaller scale disruptive events such as accidental damage can pose a serious threat to small businesses. But there’s reason to believe that the opposite may be true – that remote working doesn’t pile more pressure onto businesses, but actually helps them to cut costs. Let’s find out why.
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Office costs are the biggest, and most obvious, saving that remote working can bring for businesses. Office rental prices in the UK have reached eye-watering levels, particularly in London, and so the movement towards a smaller office footprint can bring dramatic savings. With remote working in place, offices that are large enough to house the entire workforce at once will no longer be required.
It’s not only the rental cost that can be saved, however – running an office brings other associated costs such as cleaning, maintenance and utility bills. Businesses that become fully remote and no longer need a permanent site at all will naturally make the biggest savings in all of the above areas, but a more incremental approach can also pay dividends. Shutting the office on a designated day each week, for example, is one such change that businesses could consider.
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Research shows that employee mental health problems cost UK businesses £35.9bn in 2017; with staff turnover, sickness absence, and reduced productivity at work all contributing to this total. But the good news for businesses is that remote working can have a dramatically positive impact on employees’ health and wellbeing, resulting in increased productivity and fewer sick days.
The stress of the commute and reduced work-life balance are all important contributors to mental health problems in employees. Those who work remotely, on the other hand, have more time to rest, and more time to spend with their friends and families. Money saved from the cost of commuting has an additional role to play in reducing stress, and employees can make an even greater financial saving if they decide they no longer need to pay the premium housing costs associated with a commuting lifestyle.
Well-rested, happy employees take less time off work, and are more productive when they do work. This is a net positive for employees’ wellbeing and the company’s bottom line at the same time.
Attract top talent
Attracting the right talent is always a key struggle for businesses, but this is another area that remote working can help with. Rather than being limited to advertising locally, within a certain radius of a physical office, remote-minded businesses are able to cast the net wider, and find talent from wider geographical areas. It goes without saying that top talent is the lifeblood of a successful business, and a major part of any drive to cut costs and improve profitability.
With these factors in mind, businesses should not be afraid of the remote working revolution that may already be on the way. Remote working can free businesses from the costs associated with large offices, allow employees to reach greater heights of productivity and wellbeing, and enable top talent to join the team.