One of the biggest ways the pandemic has impacted our lives is the speedy transition to remote work. According to the 2021 Hays Salary Guide, 40% of employers in Canada plan to include remote work into their normal practices.
Working out of a virtual office has some obvious benefits, the topmost being saving time and money. It is also a perk that most employees seek. The Hays report says employees listed the option to work from home as one of their “most desired benefits”.
The nature of your small business largely determines whether remote work is ideal for your company in the long-term. If you’re in sales or accounting, transitioning to permanent work-from-home would be much easier than say if you were running a jewellery repair business.
It is important that you consider the specific needs of your business and the pros and cons of working remotely before deciding to move your office online for good.
What are the benefits of a remote office?
There are several advantages of a permanent remote work arrangement:
- It is more cost efficient as it helps you save overhead costs, such as rent, utilities, office equipment, kitchen supplies, etc.
- It saves time spent commuting and getting ready for work.
- It helps your staff maintain a work-life balance. Employees who are satisfied with their jobs are productive and more likely to stay on with a company.
- It is also good for the environment. It eliminates the daily waste created in a physical office and reduces carbon emissions as employees no longer drive to work.
- It helps employers broaden their talent pool and hire qualified candidates from across the country.
All these benefits also mean less stress for you and more success for your small business.
What are the challenges of running a virtual office?
The most important thing to consider is whether permanent remote work is viable for your business.
In terms of productivity, the arrangement may have worked out well during the lockdowns. But a permanent switch may require you to review and restructure certain roles and workflow processes. Get feedback from your staff and find out what has and hasn’t worked in the past year.
You’d also need to update policies on remote work and remote workplace health and safety.
Factor in transitional costs as well. You’ll need to invest more in your company’s technological infrastructure and provide your employees with the equipment they need to work efficiently from home. You may also need to hire more IT staff to support your remote team.
Keep in mind that not all your employees may want to work from home. Many may prefer the structure that going to a workplace provides to their daily routine.
For those who live alone, a virtual office may be isolating. In the long term, this may affect their mental health.
A hybrid model
If an either-or scenario does not suit your business needs, you could also downsize your office space and transition some roles or departments to a permanent remote work arrangement.
Need help developing a remote work policy?
Our experts can help you develop company policies as well as with any other HR, health and safety, or employment advice you may need. See how we have helped other small and medium businesses get their business compliant with provincial legislation.