Andrew
Andrew Millard

Member Article

Flexible working: driving SMEs to success

Remote working is seen by many businesses as a temporary fix to unexpected disruption. However, Andrew Millard, senior director of marketing, EMEA at Citrix, discusses some of the long-term business benefits of implementing a remote working strategy.

In the past, ‘working from home’ simply meant connecting your work laptop to a home Wi-Fi and doing what you could in an unsupervised time-frame. It is no surprise then that business owners have traditionally felt a loss of control when this type of working has been in place. For the SME staff productivity is vital to income and ultimately, growth and trust that the employee would work if unsupervised has made many managers uncomfortable. This has ruled out flexible working practice for a lot of SMEs and their employees.

However, with the event of the London Olympics many businesses have adopted flexible working practices as indicated by the many reports highlighting how unexpectedly empty the City’s streets and tubes are. Perhaps then, The Games have brought the business benefits of remote working to the attention of organisations once more.

We have come a long way from the limited capability traditionally associated with remote working. Through today’s technologies, businesses can now benefit from full operational efficiency, be it holding international group meetings or accessing and sharing files securely. Significantly, managers can now have full visibility of the output of staff based at home which provides them with an important level of control. Many SMEs have now recognised the business benefits of this approach and how it can be a particularly advantageous long-term strategy for them.

Benefits in terms of cost savings and business agility through this technology can go a long way in aiding initial growth. Collaboration tools are providing Britain’s workforce with a flexible ‘office in the pocket’ solution and this brings with it countless possibilities.

The most obvious benefit for SMEs is that the need for a central office becomes redundant. In the past, securing an office space would have been the first step for many developing businesses but it can now be put on the backburner or sidestepped entirely. Taking this cost out of the equation can vastly reduce overheads, which will go a long way in aiding the growth of the business. By cutting operational costs wherever possible an SME can really enhance its competitiveness and overall success.

Another key area where budgets can be reduced through remote working technology is travel. A workforce using collaborative technology has less need to travel to meetings as these can be held via online sessions using high definition video technology. This enables people to share documents and screens while also having that vital face-to-face contact.

Hosted collaboration software is a cheap option for businesses because there is little up-front investment and you only pay for what you need. This ‘virtual office’ allows SMEs to benefit from the connectivity, efficiency and business continuity, typically only associated with much larger organisations. Subsequently the improvements to customer responsiveness, operational effectiveness and staff satisfaction are vast. Finally, this allows SMEs to shift the focus away from tiresome operational and cost issues and onto business agility.

When you look past the hype of remote working technology and focus on the benefits that SMEs can take advantage of, such as flexible working practice, cost savings and improvements in productivity, the potential for this strategy to become a long-term solution for many organisations makes perfect business sense.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Andrew Millard .

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