Is Your Business Ready for a Remote Workplace?

If working in a cubicle from 8am–5pm, five days a week seems like an outdated concept to you, you aren’t alone. Employees in today’s business world demand new workplace flexibility – and they’re ready to pass up on companies that can’t deliver a remote workplace. Is your organization ready to work without walls?

According to Telework Research Network, the number of remote workers grew 73% between 2005 and 2011. These statistics illustrate the growing importance of remote workplaces:

  • About 40% of Gen X men say they would quit a job, or turn down an offer, that didn’t include flextime. (Source: Fortune)
  • In 2010, around 2.5 percent of U.S. employees considered home their primary place of work and an estimated 20 to 30 million Americans worked at home at least one day a week. (Source: Telework Research Network)
  • 70% of college students and young professionals don’t feel it’s necessary to work at an office anymore. (Source: Cisco)

The stigma of “working from home” has also shifted in recent years. Many companies find that people are highly productive working remotely. In addition, it’s easier than ever to conduct business as usual with the right technology tools. Many businesses use this checklist of tools needed for a remote workplace:

Email: It’s simply the way business is run today. It’s an effective way to communicate with colleagues, send files, and accomplish tasks very quickly. Almost all IT departments now enable remote email server access, allowing employees to send and receive messages even when they aren’t in the office.

Internet: This is a no-brainer, but the Internet is a wealth of resources and research for all employees, regardless of location.

Social media: By nature, all social media outlets are online (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter), so any employee can manage these accounts anywhere with the correct login information, regardless of physical location.

Project software: Many programs are designed specifically to accommodate the remote workforce. Employees and clients from all over the world can log into project software for important documents, art files, and deadline calendars. Employees can also message each other about specific projects within the software in an organized, documented, and cohesive way.

Accounting software: You don’t always need your accountant in the office to cut checks or access a quick financial snapshot. With laser checks, paired with accounting programs (like QuickBooks or Peachtree), people can log into any system that has the software, type out the check details, and print them. Business laser checks are simple to use, and all transactions are tracked in real-time. Leading provider offers blank laser checks that are completely customizable within 4,500 different software titles. Discount laser checks help save time, money, and boost financial accuracy.

Online applications: Things such as file servers and company timesheets can be accessed online after initial set-up.

“Face-to-face” and IM technology: Whether it’s a web conferencing program, instant messaging, Facetime, or even Google hangouts, it’s easy to talk “in person” even if you aren’t in the same room.

Remote workplaces can boost efficiency and convenience. For example, your company can set up an online presentation instead of flying many top executives into town for multiple days. While flextime can boost company morale, there are potential drawbacks to consider. Some people miss the daily office interaction and find it hard to stay motivated and engaged at home. Additionally, Karyn Twaronite, an Ernst & Young LLP partner, says, “The technology to connect anywhere, anytime, means that people are expected to be on call 24 hours a day, especially in global companies that operate across different time zones.” Even with these caveats, employees are still considering a workplace that didn’t exist ten years ago. It’s time for businesses to get comfortable with the virtual office and start breaking down the walls.

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