Why you should offer remote working to Software Professionals
The main point of this article is to give you some pointers regarding the introduction of remote working at your company.
Maybe your employees have asked about remote working and you have not been sure how to proceed. In this article I will explore why staff and job seekers are now expecting remote working to be an option.
Remote working is obviously not possible for all types of jobs. This article is mainly of interest if you employ Software Professionals such as Programmers, Testers, Business Analysts and Scrum Masters. Most tasks such as coding, testing and requirement writing can be done remotely.
This is not a one size fits all plan. It is more a list of things for you to consider when forming your remote working policy. All companies and working practices are different and you will need to create a policy that works for you.
Reluctance to offer remote working
Traditionally there has been a reluctance to allow remote working. You'll still hear office banter such as "Oh she's been 'working at home'". With the suggestion that remote workers do anything but work. Or "We need to see that you are working."
Managers like to see people at desks
A lot of companies and Managers believe that the only way for a person to be productive is to have them sitting at a desk from 9 to 5.
It's like managers are thinking "If I can see you then you must be working"
If you have this attitude you probably need to do a lot of rethinking.
Just because someone is sat at a desk does not mean that they are being productive. It does not even mean that they are working. There is actually a large amount of time wasted in an office particularly random conversations that also disrupt others that are actually trying to work.
If you like to micromanage, then that could be a reason you are reluctant to offer remote working.
It really is a fallacy to think that a person is being most productive just because they can see you watching them.
You should be more concerned about output and results, rather than where someone is located whilst they are doing the work.
Lack of trust
Do you think that someone working remotely will do less work than if they were in the office?
How do you measure productivity of someone in the office? Hopefully not just by the fact of them sitting there. If you do measure the progress of staff in the office, you can probably use the same techniques for remote workers.
If your software team is using an Agile process such as scrum, then you already have an adequate monitoring process.
Managers often say things like "Can I trust you to work at home." It's best to move away from doing things on trust. Instead do it by measuring results, looking at the output. Comparing with the previously agreed expected outcomes It really should not matter to you where the work is actually completed.
Managers might fear the concept of remote working for the simple reason that they actually may have to do some real organisation and management. Rather than the outdated thing of "everyone is sitting at their desk, productivity is at maximum". Just because you can physically see someone typing at the keyboard does not mean that they are being productive.
Why employees and contractors don’t want to come to your office every day.
- Driving for up to three hours a day.
- Sitting on cramped public transport.
- People being disruptive with banter and chat.
- Having to leave the office to answer a phone call.
- Putting up with the smell of cooked food.
- Having to attend meetings that are a waste of time. You turn up on time, then other people talk about football or TV. Then 20 minutes later the meeting starts, and it ends up not being very focused. Physical meetings usually drift off from the agenda.
Your cool benefits are not an alternative to remote working.
Your beer fridge and pool table etc are not an alternative to remote working.
People to not want to commute 2 hours a day for the opportunity to play pool for 5 minutes.
Advantages to your company of implementing remote working.
- Reduced office costs.
- Happier staff.
- A wider selection of candidates.
- Rent smaller office.
- Less car parking facilities needed.
- Less people complaining about a wide variety of things in your office from the air conditioning to the temperature of the hot water.
- Less commuting is better for the environment.
- Lower overheads.
Offering remote working has virtually no cost to you. With the money you save on office costs you might be able to offer higher salaries. Or more training. It's a win win for everyone.
Most people will be willing to occasionally travel to a central location for meetings
Why employees and contractors want the option of remote working
They get to convert the wasted commute time into something that is important to them. This makes them happy. This in turn inspires them to continue to do high quality work for you.
Being able to start work straight away without the overhead of getting prepared for the commute.
Being able to deal with issues at any time of the day if they want. That is hugely beneficial to your company. IE problems can be resolved before they escalate
Save thousands of miles wear and tear on their cars.
Remote working enables people to split their days. For example, four hours starting at 06:00 then another four starting at 14:00
Far less distraction.
Remote workers can be more productive.
- No unwanted noise.
- Their choice of Music if that's what they want.
- Lighting that is right for them.
- No stressful commute. A one or two hour commute in traffic is not a good way to start the working day. It probably lowers the productivity of the first two hours.
- No interruptions.
- Easier to concentrate.
- There is no doubt that commuting is unhealthy.
Making it work
It would be a big step to suddenly allow all your staff to work remotely. Here are some ideas that you can use to introduce remote working.
1. You could require that a new employee initially comes into your office to get to know your procedures.
2. Allow remote working several days per week.
3. The team to be in the office one day per week.
4. Identifiable tasks. You already have these is you are running your projects with something like Agile, Scrum or Kanban.
5. People could meet halfway in a coffee shop if they feel the need to physically collaborate.
You might worry about team collaboration and communication if everyone is working remotely. But there are plenty of tools available that can replace physical face to face meetings.
Remote meetings are usually more focused than physically being sat round the same table. Remote meetings usually skip the small talk about last night's football match or film.
Here are some tools that will help remote workers communicate.
- Google documents
- Microsoft teams
- Microsoft 365
A lot of the above tools might already be used by your staff, so there should be no problem carrying on using them remotely.
Software Development tools
- Visual Studio 2019 has live sharing.
- VS Code has sharing facilities.
- Word sharing?
Many of your Software Developers might already be using these tools.
You will have access to a wider range of candidates
Instead of being limited to candidates within a certain radius of your office, with remote working you now have access to a far greater pool of skilled workers. This reason alone should be enough for you to offer remote working.
There are people that for one reason or another cannot commute to your office, even if they are within your commute radius. With remote working you will now have access to those people.
You might be able to find someone who lives 300 miles from your office and will work for a lower salary than a local candidate.
When you place a vacancy that allows remote working you will receive far more applicants to choose from.
You could lose out to your competitors
If a Software Professional has a choice between your company that does not offer remote working and your competitor that does, who do you think they are going to choose?
There are already people who will not consider applying for your vacancies if you do not offer remote working.
If your company relies on Software Development of any sort, then it is highly advisable to at least start to consider offering remote options otherwise the success of your company could be in jeopardy.
What would happen to your company if all the talented Software Professionals in your normal commuting range were all happily working remotely for your rivals?
People are already asking for the option to work remotely.
There are people who won't consider an office job.
Don't list working at home as a benefit. You are not giving; you are receding higher productivity from the employee. In fact, working at home is a benefit that the employee gives to your company.
Don't think that you are an attractive company to work for because you 'allow' employees to work remotely on a Friday afternoon. In the near future, if you want to attract the best Software Professionals you will need to get serious about remote working being a standard working practice.
Contractors, due to IR35 regulations that might come into force in 2020 will probably not want to be in your office on a regular basis.
At UK Software Jobs we have made it easy for you to indicate what remote options you offer.
You can register at UK Software Jobs using this link: http://www.uksoftwarejobs.co.uk/DirectlyRecruitSoftwareProfessionals