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ARTICLE BY:

Emily Brand

Feb 5, 2021

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Is This The End Of The Road For Homeworking?

Now that home working is here to stay, more and more businesses are looking to take advantage of it. There is no denying that remote working is here to stay. With the correct execution, it can be very effective, too— especially with a plethora of benefits to help you and your employees thrive.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at the reality of home working and discuss if it will outlast covid-19.

Pro’s

Recruiting A Broader Range of Talent.

 From a recruitment perspective, companies can broaden their talent search if home working is an option. Not only can you reach the best talent locally, but now we have the ability to broaden that reach to include other towns and cities across the UK. Some firms may even be more relaxed about outsourcing work abroad given that they have now overcome that fear of remote working.

 Reducing Costs

There is the ability to save money, both for the employer and the employee.

Employers

Firstly, employers can reduce office space costs. Predominantly most staff are now working from home meaning companies can potentially re-evaluate the space they require and, opt for smaller spaces incurring fewer overheads, such as rent and operational expenses.

Employees

Employees can also benefit financially when it comes to remote working. The eradication of commuting costs, as well as the incidental purchases over break times, will lead to a reduced spend and more money in the bank at the end of the month. This can ease stress levels for those who suffer from financial worries and mental health issues.

Improved Staff Retention

 One of the main sources of employee unhappiness is the amount of time they spend at work. Homeworking has almost struck a balance between work and home life, it has afforded workers more time with loved ones due to reduced commuting time each week, with employees saving on average 10 hours per week in commuting. An emphasis on engaging with staff and aiming to replace the social interaction lost through home working can enhance that balance and make employees less likely to want to leave their current employment.

Better for the Environment

From a corporate responsibility perspective, there is a positive impact on the environment that working from home can bring. We have seen improvements in carbon emissions as a result of worldwide lockdowns, and although these improvements have been temporary it has highlighted what is possible with less commuting. Employers can also contribute to a better environment with the reduction in waste management which comes from fewer people in the workplace. The technological factors of remote can also help the environment as energy consumption and water usage is reduced within the workplace facilities themselves.

With every upside their must also be a considered, balanced approach to home working, and considering the negatives is also important to form a true picture of the situation.

Con’s

Roger Barker Director of Policy at IoD stated, “Remote working has been one of the most tangible impacts of coronavirus on the economy. For many, it could be here to stay,” He continued, “Working from home doesn’t work for everyone, and directors must be alive to the downsides. Managing teams remotely can prove far from straightforward, and directors must make sure they are going out of their way to support employees’ mental wellbeing.”

Impact on Mental Health

There is also the psychological impact that can be an issue for some. Working from home can create a feeling that you never leave work and can make it harder for some staff to switch off and differentiate home and work.

With this in mind, there are ways in which employers can support and manage their staff health and wellbeing, so individuals don’t become overwhelmed and still feel part of the team.

Employers can adopt support tools and services which can assist staff who may be struggling, for example, a health and wellbeing hub which provides different resources to help manage the different aspects of mental health.

Employers can invest in exercise classes for staff this can both benefit the health and motivation of staff whilst also retaining and interesting new staff with this dynamic tool. Similarly, introducing things such as care packages which are delivered to staff homes, can boost staff mental health and help them feel supported.

Having a 24/7 support programme for staff to access, such as the Health Assured Employee Assistance Programme can help improve and educate staff on mental health.

Businesses of all industries can also take this opportunity to utilise their social media platforms and create content which can be used as a device to support and engage with staff regarding mental health.

Increased Security Risks

With computer equipment being provided to employees to work from home, there come several considerations for IT managers throughout the UK, how to ensure that data is processed properly and securely.  

Employers can introduce and adapt their VPN’s to make sure all networks are secure and inaccessible by other sources. To support staff and potential security risks, compliance should play a crucial part in the day to day running of any remote contact centre. Employers should have thorough compliance and monitoring systems in place, even more so now and provide additional support each week, so employees can be confident in their processes and mitigate any risk to data. 

Increased Pressure on Infrastructure.

Leigh Hopwood, Chief Executive of the Call Centre Management Association (CCMA), believes that the industry “jumped forward five years in three months” and suggested it had “to implement new technology to support a mass migration to homeworking and to deliver a digital transformation”.

IT departments were under great, time-sensitive pressure at the beginning of the pandemic to adapt their largely on-site infrastructure to support a work from the home workforce. Often with multiple clients on different systems themselves, this was no straightforward task.

The obvious issue would be having a secure, stable and sufficient broadband connection allowing for these systems to run on, data options are feasible for some who don’t have access to sufficient networks access. With contact centres needing relying on VoIP systems to contact customers, having access to adequate broadband is essential and will surely speed up the roll-out of reliable access throughout the UK much quicker.

Whilst cost savings are made on energy and network usage in-house, there are additional pressures on private networks and troubleshooting problems remotely.

Isolation.

One of the biggest challenges with remote working is going to be the isolation of staff working from home. Whilst this is not the case for everyone, being on your own, not able to have a chat with someone over a lunch break or talk to others next to you in person, can have severe impacts on performance and employee’s wellbeing.

It’s important that support networks are setup both with work colleagues and outside of work to connect and check in on those who may be working alone. Taking advantage of regular video calls and engaging in private chat groups will help lessen the effects of the isolation of working remotely.

While every business is unique and will have their own unique set of challenges, upon analysis the situation has opened up many positive doorways for businesses to take full advantage of.

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At ECO, we can say with some conviction and certainty that home working is now a regular fixture on the business landscape. With the correct policies and procedures in place, businesses can execute plans successfully, ensuring both the smooth running of operations and staff health and wellbeing is a vital part of the new adapted processes.

ECO has successfully with the help of our team pulled together to make it work, now we’re in a position where we can effectively have home-working alongside office-based teams when it’s safe to do so.

If you’re thinking about growing your business through an outsourced partner and take advantage of home working, speak to our team on info@ecoutsourcing.co.uk

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