2020 saw a significant shift in the employment industry. For the first time, remote working became a necessity for millions, rather than an optional tool for the flexibility offered by a select few employers. Figures for work-from-home teams skyrocketed for small businesses and remote employment became the new normality. Yet as the dust settles, and people start to return to traditional office space, will we return to the way things were — or is this an opportunity for your business to grow? Remote working has many promising advantages, but perhaps most attractive of all is the ability to cut small business costs.
The Rise of Remote Working Has Changed Business
The cultural shift to remote working in 2020 was born out of necessity, but that does not mean it won’t have a huge impact.
In 2019, only around 30% of the UK work population worked from home. The report, documented by government-back ONS (Office of National Statistics) suggests many of these weren’t full-time remote workers either. To be counted in the total percentage of workforce included in the data, they only had to have worked from home once.
For most, working from home once was not an option — it was something many small business enterprises had not considered or didn’t think was viable. However, as a business owner, you may now be witnessing the ways remote work can benefit your business first hand.
With remote working a necessity, instead of looking to ways of surviving until traditional environments reopened, 2020 became the year when an opportunity for small business setups arose to experience the advantages of remote work.
By being forced to adapt, many have had their eyes opened.
Cutting Small Business Costs through Remote Work
Top Five Ways to Cut Costs by Working from Home
- Video Conferencing Instead of Travel — One of the best ways to reduce costs for a business is to introduce video conference calling for meetings. Tools like Zoom allow you to chat with anyone, anywhere. It’s not new technology, but new developments in systems make it far easier, smoother, intuitive and adaptive. It’s now possible to have company-wide meetings online without any trouble. This means you can cut back on travel and commuting costs without sacrificing communication.
- Reducing Costs of Office Upkeep — Offices are expensive business assets. You have to pay rents, bills and maintenance fees. The costs quickly wrack up and become one of your largest expenses — especially for a small business. Removing the need for an office space can dramatically affect your bottom line.
- Save Money with Paperless Practice — Working from home forces your communication by files and documents to become electronic. Paper is just too inefficient. This introduction removes the need for expensive hardware like printers and fax machines and instead points you towards much more cost-effective solutions like eFax online faxing.
- Stop Paying for Food Expenses and Coffee — It sounds ridiculous, but even the costs of coffee can put dents in profit margins. Free food and drink at the office can create massive money sinks for small business enterprises. Working from home, your team can easily source their own food and coffee, reducing these expenses. If you want to be seen as supportive, you can provide a small budget per person to cover lunch costs, but this is unlikely to be anywhere near what you’d pay in a normal office environment, and could really save money for your business.
- Reduce the Amount of Sick Leave — Studies show that remote workers take less sick days. There are two main theories as to why this happens. The first is that less contact with individuals in the office reduces the chance of picking up viral infections. The other is that mental health plays a role. Working from home can help improve work-life balance, which makes employees happier and healthier, reducing the chance of stress-related sick leave. Either way, less sick leave results in a more cost-effective business.
- Cut the Costs of Work Clothing Supply — This element will not impact all types of business, but some operations require individuals to have branded clothing or uniforms. Working from home, these become unnecessary and can be removed as expenses for your business.
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Cost-Saving Technologies to Develop Home Working Practice
With the cost benefits of remote working clear as day, business owners will want to look at ways to develop long-term remote working practices that offer sustained reductions in costs. So how do you make sure you keep enjoying the advantages of remote work? When it comes to ways to reduce expenses, the simple act of working from home enables money to be saved. However, for home-office work to be viable, you need to create a business infrastructure that supports it.
The answer is very simple, and we’ve already touched upon it in this article:
Cloud technology is an innovation of the 21st-century that slowly but surely changed the business landscape forever, and has become the most influential technology to spread across the entire commercial landscape since the advent of the computer. The usefulness of cloud technology for remote work is all in the way it is fundamentally designed to operate.
At the start of the new millennium, we were introduced to the digital revolution. Amazing new software and hardware came into existence that turbo-charged the way we completed tasks. From project management to monitoring finances, we could dramatically improve work efficiency by using technology. The problem with this way of working was all the technology was in-house. It was stored on business computers and maintained by onsite servers. If you wanted to achieve the amazing things technology offered from home, you needed to bring all that technology home with you, which was expensive, took up loads of space, and just wasn’t possible — certainly not for all employees.
But cloud technology makes it possible.
Cloud technology is all the advanced systems you use but stored on somebody else’s server. Instead of storing systems locally, you use the internet to access them. The data-speeds of the web are now so fast there is no discernible difference in functionality and performance between accessing a piece of software on your server and accessing software housed on a server thousands of miles away.
For a long time, the cloud was not viable outside of data backups and storage. However, as technology has aged and become more accessible to program developers, and the demand for the platform has increased, more and more solutions have become available. You can now find all software solutions provided through the cloud. From eFax cloud faxing, which lets you remove fax machines and send fax online, to cloud accounting software that lets you manage business finances over the web, the opportunities to integrate cloud systems are endless.
We no longer need local software to perform essential business tasks. Instead, we can move to the cloud, which also offers the benefits of added security, backups and scalability.
What this means for remote work is it has become almost universally viable. In the digital age — where we are reliant on computer software to complete work — there are very few areas of task management where you cannot find a cloud system to support your goals. Individuals don’t need to come into the office to complete their work for a business. They can access the systems they need through personal computers from their home office instead.
Cloud software is key to any business that wants to take advantage of the remote-working revolution and cut costs. Make sure you build a full awareness of the cloud solutions available to you, and you’ll soon find ways to reduce business costs through remote work.
With cloud systems as a base of work competition, you can develop systems to support your work — including communications platforms and apps that monitor work completed. For more information on supportive technology, be sure to read our blog on the best home-office tech in 2020 for remote work.
Remote Work and Physical Business Presence
Some industries require a physical presence.
From retail and hospitality to manufacturing and production, sometimes it is impossible to take a small business completely remote. But, if you’re seeking to reduce business costs by working from home, you can still apply the advice highlighted above to sections of your operation.
Management strategies and administrative tasks don’t need to be run from the warehouse where they are implemented, for example. One way to save costs in industries that require a traditional style of work is to adapt processes that can be carried out from home without compromising those that can’t.
The cloud technologies mentioned in this article allow business owners to not only connect with third-parties but also their staff. Other examples include ideas like using eFax to send internal documents from your home office to a storage facility or collaborating on supply order forms remotely with those in a warehouse checking stock via cloud-based accounting tools.
Change the way you think about remote work. Take advantage of the tools available to help you, and you can save large sums of money by being a business that works from home. eFax works to help you achieve this goal. Offering cloud-based technology that includes document management systems, e-signatures and, of course, business-to-business faxing functionality, eFax is a vital tool for your work-from-home business. Sign up today!