Businesses have had to move quickly, and in many cases develop or at the very least step up their infrastructure improvement plans. Employers with minimal capability for home and remote working (for example, where employees were without laptops, or where there was a lack of a reliable VPN system) will now, in most cases, have the infrastructure to facilitate these options. This should be viewed as an investment – not a cost.
Indeed, if one positive can be drawn from the turbulent times of late, it is that employers have come to realise the benefits of homeworking, flexible working hours, and the further utilisation of technology, to achieve their business objectives better, as well as to boost employee morale.
In March 2020, commercial real estate company CBRE published a report opining that “workers today are setting up at coffee shops, in co-working spaces, on couches and at picnic tables – even when they travel.” Over the next decade, CBRE predicted this radical re-imagining of the workplace will accelerate.
The acceleration has been phenomenal. Two months on from this report, global organisations such as Twitter are implementing permanent agile working practices, having transitioned from office-based to remote working.
“The past few months have proven we can make it work” was the official statement from Twitter – which will allow those of its employees who can work from home to do so indefinitely. Facebook, too, has confirmed its 45,000-strong workforce will be offered the opportunity to work from home on a permanent basis.
The findings of some large scale remote working studies have long supported a growing enthusiasm for agile working. For example, the world’s largest-scale study of this kind was carried out by CTrip, China’s largest online travel agency which at the time employed some 13,000 employees.
The study revealed that when employees work from home, there was:
- A 13% increase in employee productivity
- A 50% decrease in employee attrition rate (e.g. employees leaving CTrip); and
- Overall increased work satisfaction for employees
Successful agile working practices can, in many cases, reduce or remove the need for businesses to rent office space – meaning fewer expensive property overheads. In addition to this, top talents are increasingly seeking flexible working opportunities.
However, while the potential benefits of agile working have seen a promotional push during this period, employers must also be aware of the potential pitfalls before implementing this growing global trend on a permanent basis.
Agile working has to make business sense for your specific organisation in ‘normal’ circumstances, as well as in extreme ones. Currently, many organisations will have devised their remote working practices with speed, following emergency government advice.
As businesses manage through the current difficulties and build towards recovery, those who are considering an agile-working-based future must ensure careful planning.
Here are five key areas that businesses should focus on:
Capability – Businesses need to understand the current culture of the business, have a clear vision of what the business wants to achieve through agile working and ensure it has the necessary IT capabilities to realise this vision. This may involve employee surveys, IT audits and senior strategy meetings.
Practicality – Not all businesses are suited to remote working. Plans must be devised in line with business models, objectives and day-to-day activities. For example, it may be unsuitable for some employees to work remotely, or for them to have flexible hours. Agile workers need to be proactive, self-directed and have a defined home office space.
Engagement – Equally, it is not for certain that all employees will want to work from home. Some employees may associate remote working with social isolation, or fear to be ‘out of sight, out of mind’. Employee engagement through consultation and other forms is crucial when considering agile working in order to avoid employee relations issues.
Risk – Key risk areas such as negative employee perceptions, difficulties with remote supervision, the health and safety of remote working staff and – critically – data security, must all be addressed to ensure successful implementation. Legal obligations, specifically around health and safety and data protection, should be a primary focus for all businesses.
Policy – Finally, organisations seeking to transition to remote working permanently are strongly advised to ensure appropriate policies are implemented, and that employees receive training to make them aware of their obligations, as well as their rights.
How can we help?
The contents of this article are intended for informational purposes only. The article should not be relied on as legal or other professional advice. Neither Vistra Group Holding S.A. nor any of its group companies, subsidiaries or affiliates accept responsibility for any loss occasioned by actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading or otherwise consuming this article. For details, read our Legal and Regulatory notice at: http://www.vistra.com/notices . Copyright © 2022 by Vistra Group Holdings SA. All Rights Reserved.
The US Inflation Reduction Act, Pillar Two and the prospects for a global minimum tax
06 Oct 2022
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the G7 and G20 have been working on a two-pillar solution to address multinational tax challenges, particularly as nontangible digital products have become a larger part of the global economy…
Private debt explained, and why it continues to attract investors
29 Sep 2022
What multinational businesses should know about the US Inflation Reduction Act
21 Sep 2022
Webinar: UK SME credit, facing the challenges in the current environment
12 Oct 2022
Vistra enters into a Sale and Purchase Agreement with MAS France; Expands its global footprint by entering the French market
15 Sep 2022
The UK’s Register of Overseas Entities: A summary of obligations and related controversy
12 Sep 2022