It probably won’t be a surprise to hear that the long-term status of remote working, following over a year of COVID enforced distancing, is a question being asked in almost all corners of the business world.
Understandably, for business management, a permanent future of remote working may raise concerns. Whether it’s the costs associated with adequately kitting out a large team for home working or dealing with the numerous additional IT, logistical and security challenges presented by a remote workforce. It’s not as simple for a business as it may seem to its individual employees.
A brief history of remote working in the UK
Remote working, or working from home, has been a regular arrangement for many UK businesses for decades – since the internet transformed the way companies work, trade, and communicate.
It wasn’t until the year 2020, however, that it suddenly became a reality for everyone else too.
Remote working, as we know, hit the mainstream in March 2020, when the Prime Minister ordered those who could work remotely to do so for a period of nearly three months to reduce non-compulsory social contact.
Throughout the following 18 months of repeat lockdowns, social distancing measures, furloughed employees and additional unprecedented challenges, there was no “normal”.
The return to the office proved to be tricky too, as many remote employees developed a liking for it – advocates for remote working point to numerous benefits such as reduced stress, an improved life balance and, of course, no dreaded commute.
The current state of play of remote working
As we approach the final quarter of 2021, the government has stated no intention of enforcing another lockdown, which would likely make remote working mandatory once again – of course, it is not possible to rule it out completely during an ongoing pandemic.
So where does this leave us?
As business influencers debate online about the merits and drawbacks of remote working, many are opting for the hybrid working approach.
Hybrid working involves a split schedule between home and the office for each employee. This may be fully flexible, with employees working based on their preferences, or with limited mandatory office days included as required to do their jobs effectively.
A traditional office-based 9-5 has long been considered by many as an old fashioned and unnecessarily rigid way of working in the digital age; the last 18 months have demonstrated to many more businesses that, with proper planning and care, largely remote or hybrid businesses can still operate as normal.
A recent BBC survey reported that 70% of office workers believe they will never return to the office full time after the pandemic.
The question is, how can you prepare your business for a future of remote or hybrid working? The answer, unsurprisingly, lies in the numbers.
How a strong finance function can make the hybrid transition work
Through an organisation’s financial reporting, senior management can stay in control of rapidly changing business circumstances. This also applies to hybrid working, where many new considerations need to be made, such as the following:
Performance and productivity
Robust management information will help you develop the right strategic position while ensuring the business can still operate to its potential. Data can also tell you which areas of the business work best remote, and which may require some sort of mandatory office attendance to serve their function.
Infrastructure and equipment
It will also help you plan for the various financial implications relating to remote working, data protection and security, including network infrastructure, facilities and equipment, and internal communications.
With regards to employee wellbeing in a hybrid work environment, organisations may be required to invest in training and support for staff and managers to achieve long term employee happiness and mental health, and to ensure the company culture remains inclusive and supportive, even at a distance.
Do you need assistance with planning your future working arrangements?
There is an awful lot to consider when planning for a future of hybrid or remote working; but it may become more important than ever for businesses that want to remain current, competitive, and attract the best talent in their industries.
As remote working becomes more of a norm, companies that are unable to adapt to this ‘new normal’ may find themselves at a disadvantage.
The Genus team are experts in strategic and financial planning for businesses; we can apply our years' worth of accounting expertise, with cutting edge cloud software, to design and build your business a bespoke outsourced finance solution to help you succeed in a hybrid working setup. Get in touch today for advice.