Remote working is without a doubt becoming the ‘New Normal’ for many businesses in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis. The UK has seen a dramatic increase in homeworking with the ONS reporting that ‘In April 2020, nearly half (46.6%) of people in employment did some of their work from home, with the vast majority (86.0%) of these homeworkers stating that this was because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic’; this in comparison to the 12.26% who had reported working from home at some point during the week in 2019.
Understandably, many employees who have now experienced homeworking are reluctant to return to the office full time or at all. The business leaders who are having to ensure a safe office environment are considering not only the financial benefit, but also the reduction in carbon footprint that accompanies a remote-first workforce.
In a press release issued by the Global Carbon Project, it was stated that ‘The estimated total change in emissions from the pandemic amounts to 1048 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (MtCO2) until the end of April. Of this, the changes are largest in China where the confinement started, with a decrease of 242 MtCO2, then in the US (207 MtCO2), Europe (123 MtCO2), and India (98 MtCO2).’
With any dramatic changes to the working environment there are always positive and negative impacts to consider, but thanks to the wealth of technological solutions available, the stumbling blocks can be overcome. Installing the right tools could enable businesses to save money – and do their bit to save the planet too!
The ups and downs of distributed teams
Having become office-optional in September 2019, the SMLWRLD team are well rehearsed in working from home, and Managing Director Dan Jones says ‘Our employees have gained the freedom to plan around their personal lives and productivity patterns, and to move outside of London. The opportunity has reduced their travel costs and, hopefully, stress levels. For us as a company it is cost-effective, has reduced our carbon footprint, and increased our staff retention.’
These benefits were really the tip of the iceberg for the tech company, who have since employed a team member who lives in Australia. Jasmin Castles, SMLWRLD’s newest project manager, had her interview on Microsoft Teams™ and completed her training using the company’s intranet! Having never met anyone from SMLWRLD in person, Jasmin is now an established member of the team.
For middle managers in some companies that were considering allowing staff to work remotely, the idea of being completely distributed used to be the stuff of nightmares. With the unprecedented lockdown of 2020 these managers have now seen the benefits, such as the rise in productivity for themselves, and they are no longer the roadblock to remote working that they once were.
Whilst the gains to be made from employees working from home have become evident, issues such as collaboration, communication and managing distributed teams are the pain points that need addressing in order to make remote working work.
For SMEs who are quickly becoming the casualties in the fallout, a rush to invest in new tech seems unattainable while they are feeling the squeeze on the company coffers.
An essential solution to a greener (remote) future
The answer to dealing with the issues raised by remote working lies with a technology that a lot of professionals have come into contact with but have since forgotten about, largely due to a lack of both engaging content and the need.
So what is this dusty bygone automation? The Intranet!
Somewhat under the radar, advances in intranet technology have been steadily increasing. New and innovative solutions such as the SMLWRLD Essential intranet offer businesses an out-of-the-box, cloud-based and cost-effective software. Unlike the huge bespoke products that were essentially an expensive online noticeboard for big businesses, these intranets are ideal for SMEs that need virtual real estate given the lack of physical premises. They represent a place that employees will visit daily to collaborate with colleagues, where managers can communicate effectively, and where the sense of brand identity is maintained.
Coupled with remote working, companies can now relax in the knowledge that a remote working business model will enable productivity, reduce costs and greatly decrease the carbon footprint they produce.