2020 threw a curveball to many small businesses and their employees, but it wasn’t all bad. Those businesses that rolled with the punches and were open to change saw some great opportunities once they were up and running for remote work. Many companies that had previously shied away from offering flexible work arrangements ended up benefiting by having their employees work remotely, including cost savings, increased productivity, access to a broader talent pool, and increased employee satisfaction with work-life balance.
As the economy reopens, many employers are pausing when they consider whether to call their workers back into the office. Whether they go fully remote permanently or offer a hybrid arrangement, there are a number of opportunities for the business to thrive. We recommend thinking through these four decision points before making any permanent decisions.
1. Consider what to do with your cost savings.
Cost savings is one of the top benefits of having remote employees. Many companies have reduced office space and employee parking, and also rescinded office snacks and team lunches. Those savings can be significant, and they offer multiple opportunities. Consider ways to put the money back into the business. That may mean investing in growth, allowing extra room in the budget for R&D, or building out better infrastructure for remote work. Don’t forget to replace some of those perks that helped create a great work environment in the office. Whether you plan an employee retreat, off-site development, or additional travel opportunities, it’s important to continue to build your culture.
2. Make sure teams are set up for long-term productivity in a flexible work environment.
Contrary to what many employers once believed, productivity often increases when employees work remotely. Studies have shown a 5% increase in overall productivity, and businesses that equip their employees with cloud-based technologies can see an even greater improvement. When employees are working from their home offices, they spend less time commuting and have fewer distractions, allowing for more efficient working hours.
When the pandemic abruptly began, many companies scrambled to make things work for dispersed teams. Consider whether there are workflows that are still an inconvenience or temporary fix. Thanks to advanced cloud technology, companies are able to give their employees access to the files and applications that are needed to do their work from anywhere. Still need to work on a collaborative project? Cloud-based apps allow for teams to work on projects together, in real-time. In our office, we depend on Slack, Dropbox, Sharefile, and Xero secure, simultaneous team collaboration and communication.
3. Access a broader talent pool.
When you no longer have geographical restrictions, you can recruit top talent from anywhere. This is especially true for companies with a very niche product or service. Having the ability to hire from anywhere in the world can help you build a higher quality team. This is also true for outsourced services, such as bookkeeping. A remote bookkeeper who is well-versed in your niche can help you save a great deal of back-office time and will be aware of accounting or tax requirements specific to your business.
Cloud-based payroll services, such as Gusto, allow you to manage your team’s payroll, time, benefits, and insurance all from one place. Your employees will have access to input their information, along with keeping a record of their time to ensure a seamless payroll process, from wherever they are working. If your employees are located in other states, they may face state income tax requirements that can be managed by the right payroll system.
4. Work flexibility is attractive when it means choices.
Most employees appreciate the opportunity to work from wherever they find to be most comfortable and beneficial to their productivity (and in some cases, that’s the traditional office setting). The ability to control your own work environment has been shown to increase employee satisfaction and work-life balance. Many employers also see a decrease in absences as employees can travel while still doing their work. It’s important to ensure that all employees have access to the space they need.
Not only does the flexibility benefit your workers, but it also allows you as a business owner to continue looking after your business from anywhere you are. Cloud-based accounting apps ensure that you have all of the information you need, along with being able to see your company’s up-to-date financials.
If you’re one of the many small businesses continuing with remote work, or just starting your business and considering the benefits of remote employees, don’t forget to make sure your accounting data is secure and accessible in the cloud. Need help migrating to the cloud? Contact us to schedule a consultation to learn how automated processes and real-time financial insights will benefit your business.