In its new 4000-strong business poll, workspace provider Regus shows that 42 per cent of respondents now work remotely for at least half their working week, up from 39 per cent last year.
Greater productivity, improved staff retention and lower operating costs are all key benefits of remote working.
Over a third of respondents also believe that junior employees become more responsible through remote working. The diminishing importance of geographical location also makes it easier for UK firms to trade overseas.
“Workforces are becoming ever more ‘distributed’, with staff in multiple locations,” says John Spencer, UK CEO of Regus.
“It is perfectly possible for remote teams to collaborate effectively, but it does require managers to focus less on control and more on motivation and teamwork.”
Regus’s research also suggests that many firms are slow to address the challenges of managing staff at a distance, with half of those polled saying that managers do not trust remote workers to remain focused on work tasks.
Only a quarter of firms have a specific system in place for managers to monitor efficiency in remote teams, and a third of managers use video calls.
“We trade overseas and have built up a network of associates across the globe who I manage on a day-to-day basis,” says Michael Millward MD at Leeds-based employee management services company Abeceder.
“Most of the contact I have with them is virtual, but we have regular video calls and it doesn’t matter that they are in Lagos, Toronto or Shanghai – we operate just as if they were on the doorstep.”
Millward adds that remote management can improve the quality of the relationship between manager and staff: “In a way, the distance has been an advantage because I trust them to be independent. This has inspired a greater sense of responsibility and made them highly valuable assets to the team.”
Has remote working increased in your business in the last year? Do you have plans to introduce more remote working? Leave your comments below.
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