Small and medium-sized businesses are embracing the concept of remote work – and the trend stands to benefit SMBs employees and bottom lines alike.
RingCentral’s own data demonstrates just how pervasive remote working has become in the SMB community. A survey we conducted late last year found that 73 percent of small business owners expected to let their employees work outside the office during the 2011 holiday season. And, as we noted in the survey results, business owners were “more flexible [in 2011] than in the past in allowing their employees to work remotely during the holidays.”
A recently issued Conference Board study quantifies the growth of remote work. Among all full-time, non-self-employed U.S. workers, telework is nearly twice as popular today as it was a decade ago, the research organization found. In some industries – like insurance and legal services – remote work rates have doubled or tripled.
The Conference Board’s report noted some of the benefits of permitting employees to do their jobs remotely. Not only do remote workers have more flexibility “to adjust their schedules as job and personal demands arise,” the release accompanying the report read, but “teleworkers often note improved performance and higher productivity,” as well.
To be sure, remote work must be approached with a measure of caution. Remote staffers can feel disconnected from the goings-on at their company’s office, and they must take pains to draw a line between their working and personal lives. But, in recent years, so-called “co-working” spaces – modular offices designed to be shared by individuals or small companies – have emerged to help ameliorate these issues. Enterprise hubs like New York and San Francisco have their fair share of co-working facilities — as can be expected — but they’re also appearing in areas not typically known for entrepreneurial flair (like Dallas, Charlotte and Milwaukee).
Some companies with unused desks are even trying to lure remote workers to set up shop in their offices, the Wall Street Journal reports. This push to bring remote workers into established offices is gaining momentum: a handful of start-ups (including LiquidSpace and Loosecubes) aim to create a marketplace for unused desk space. And, the Journal adds, such workspace is generally made available at no cost, since many firms are eager to expose their workforces to new faces and ideas. The trend illustrates how remote work can add value in myriad ways. Not only do the workers themselves gain flexibility, but by mixing and mingling, they can forge new business relationships, share best practices and help their companies grow.
We at RingCentral have seen firsthand how remote work can boost a business’ bottom line. One example is West Florida real estate brokerage Amerivest Realty, a RingCentral customer since 2011. As Amerivest president Joe Ballarino writes in this guest blog post, most of his workforce (roughly 90 percent) is outside the company’s office at any given time. But because Amerivest uses cloud technology to connect with its remote staffers, they don’t miss a beat.
Amerivest is, therefore, able to empower its employees to get work done no matter where they are. Its workforce is happier, and productivity improves, too. It’s a neat story – one that’s applicable to nearly every industry. Is your business as remote work-friendly as Amerivest? Perhaps it should be.
P.S . Check out the Coworking Wiki for more info on how coworking works, as well as a directory of coworking space around the globe.