The benchmark for business success is no longer a huge office. Thanks to technological advances and an increasingly digital way of life, it is possible to belong to a thriving company and never actually commute to an office.
The rise of remote working
Remote working has filled the gap between being a self-employed home worker and an employee expected to travel to an office five days a week. Known for its flexible approach to locations and hours, the appeal of remote working is clear to see. In fact, data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) has revealed that the number of UK workers who have moved into remote working has increased by nearly a quarter of a million over a decade. The ONS also predicts that 50% of the UK workforce will work remotely in some form this year.
Remote working has allowed Viewber to quickly grow from a kitchen table idea to a successful SME, with staff working in tandem from different locations across the country. We have a strong ethos built in to our business strategy, acknowledging that broadband, cloud computing and video conferencing are just as effective ways of communicating as being in the same office.
It’s not an easy option
Kate Campbell-Balcombe, who sits on Viewber’s Chief Executive team, has been working remotely since 2006 says the practice is often misunderstood: “Those who are based in offices often think of remote working as an opportunity to shirk rather than work, lounging around in pyjamas and binge-watching Netflix. It’s also common to think that remote working can be taken to the extreme – tapping away at a laptop on a desert island beach.”
In realty, says Kate, all of Viewber’s employees have to be disciplined, diligent and within a commutable distance of its favoured Hampshire base so company get togethers and in-person training can happen with ease. “We don’t always meet up just to work in each other’s presence. More often than not, our quarterly gatherings are to reward. For example, we celebrated Viewber’s third birthday together, with an update from our Chairman, team building party games and a BBQ.”
Additionally, and to help set the right tone, Viewber’s employees are expected to have a separate working area in their home to ensure they have a physical work/life boundary in place. The company also uses tools to monitor and track the number of actual hours being worked by the team. “We’re just as conscious of people regularly overworking as we are underperforming - we don’t want people burning out,” adds Kate.
Why choose remote working?
- It’s good for the planet: less commuting means less environmental emissions and in our latest engagement survey, 41% of our employees said they chose remote working to save money on travel and parking expenses.
- Manage your time more effectively: remote working is kinder to those with children, pets and disabilities that prevent them from taking up a traditional 9-5 office job.
- Be more productive: studies show open plan offices can lead to a drop in productivity and less collaboration, despite their set up. Remote working cuts out unnecessary chitchat and promotes full concentration.
- Employ for the right reasons: rather than be dictated to by somebody’s location, remote working allows employers to hire for skills, values and experience.
- Cut overheads: renting or buying office space is not cheap but remote working allows businesses to scale down to a smaller office, or ditch a centralised workplace completely and rent meeting spaces by the day, when needed.
- Reduce absenteeism: germs can’t spread around a non-existent office, so there’s less chance of something contagious wiping out team out for a few weeks. At Viewber, we enjoy low absenteeism levels.
- Continue to receive benefits: it’s important to reward, even if you’re not together on a daily basis. Viewber employees benefit from access to a Nest pension and additional extras, such as free weekly coffees, monthly cinema tickets and access to an online 24/7 GP.
Is this the end of the office?
Kate thinks that traditional offices still have an important role to play and Viewber may well offer an even more flexible approach to working in the near future: “We realise that not everyone can or wants to work remotely – some do prefer the buzz of an office. Viewber will probably follow a hybrid route - some people in an office and some remote workers, or perhaps mandatory office days each week for teams to be together in person. The success of our remote working model is measured each month and we will always do what’s right for the business.”
Top 5 remote working tips:
1. Be strict about end times: it can be hard to switch off, so finish at a pre-set time to protect your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
2. Install the best WIFI and broadband possible: with almost all communication in an online format, you’ll need a reliable service to take part in video conferencing, receive emails and work on the cloud.
3. Be available: being flexible goes with the remote working territory so expect some out-of-hours contact. Keep a log, however, so you can tally up any extra work and make use of ‘do not disturb’ settings when required.
4. Mingle with your colleagues: even though you may be sitting on your own, virtual mingling is healthy. Sharing feedback and swapping ideas via digital channels, such as Facebook and Slack, replace those water cooler moments and boardroom brainstorms.
5. Get dressed: the beauty of remote working means you don’t have to don a power suit but you still have to get in a professional mindset. A dressing gown and sippers probably won’t cut it.
Could you be our next remote worker?
Viewber continues to expand and as we grow, we are looking for more self-motivated team players who are comfortable with remote working. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org attaching your CV, or take a look at the vacancies list on our careers page.