Everything we do today revolves around the idea of work locations. We 'go to work' - in an office, a shop, a factory....
When work equipment was expensive, many of the skills we now think of as fundamental were rare, and communications were in the form of written notes and reports, this made sense. People needed to be in one place in order for the business to operate.
But technology and the needs of business have moved on. We have e-mail, instant messaging, web conferences and the majority of us can type and have access to a computer and the internet.
Yet the mindset around how we organise our people seems to be lagging behind. Many business owners still feel they want their team to be ‘here’ and set up an office to accommodate everyone in one place working ‘nine to five.’ Yet, in the vast majority of cases, there is no good reason for this and it may even be counter-productive.
There is massive potential for small businesses to break the mould as they grow and to really make the most of work mobility.
Think about the impact it might have on your business in the following areas:
- Ease of recruitment: If part of your recruitment messaging is "When you work for us, your commute is 60 seconds (the time it takes to move from kitchen to home office) and we give you all the systems you need to make that work" then what does that mean for attracting great applicants and for retaining your existing people. Setting aside the impact on work-life balance for your people, this could have a dramatic impact on recruitment costs (easier to find the right person, less time to fill a vacancy, and lower turnover).
- Better productivity: By allowing people to work when it suits them and focusing on outcome (rather than ‘bums on seats’) the speed and quality of delivery goes up. Just to give you an example, a member of my team is super-productive at 5am and likes working on a Sunday (taking a day off during the week). She loves working this way – and I get the best results.
- Lower overheads: If people are working from home and use their own equipment, you don’t need to be paying for it. You only need to have a centralised location for those elements of your business which must in one place (manufacturing – which still needs specialised equipment, for example).
Creating a home-based business does have some challenges too. For many people, the relationships they have with work colleagues are more important than the work itself. References to ‘water cooler conversations’ are sometimes made with tongue-in-cheek but don’t underestimate their importance. That means you need to build into any mobility planning:
- Social spaces online for people to interact
- Web meetings with the facility for ‘break out rooms’ – which means that smaller groups can work together and collaborate together.
- Social get-togethers on a regular basis, so people can meet face to face.
These require more thought because they won’t happen organically in the way they might when everyone is in the same building.
Plus, of course, someone loving to work at 5am is all very well, but if they are client-facing, there need to be boundaries around the flexible working and location they use.
What can you be doing now?
So, if you want to explore the potential for creating a mobile team, here are things you can be doing now.
- Financial forecasting to understand how these changes might impact the business and what it might cost to implement.
- ‘24 hour planning’ for your team. This will help you understand what people really want and what matters to them the most in life. By listening to their needs, you are creating a culture of doing the right thing by your people as well as shifting towards a mindset of delivery (rather than presence).
- Research the current tools for mobility to see what could be easily rolled out. From online communication tools such as Slack and Zoom, to software solutions such as hosted desktops, all the way through to serviced offices to allow everyone to get together when the need arises. There are a wealth of options to explore and understand.
And, if you need help to make the most of the future of mobility, Grant-Jones Accountancy has a range of services and knowledge to offer as part of its Business Growth Services. For a free initial review and to learn more, contact us now.