New technology can help boost remote working trend

New technology can help boost remote working trend

Many businesses remain opposed to the idea of letting employees work remotely, but new technology means having staff based outside of the office is more viable than ever.

The reasons for wanting to work remotely are numerous, but two of the most common are to save commuting costs and spend more time with a child. Demand from staff to have the option to work flexibly or remotely is strong, but there is resistance among employers, as demonstrated in a recent poll conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Plantronics. 

Nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of respondents said they had not received any training on remote working from their employer, while only 36 per cent said they had the necessary tools to do so.

According to Donna Miller, European human resources director for Enterprise Rent-A-Car, one of the main challenges to employers is providing enough support to staff who are not in the office every day.

"Ensuring there are reasons and opportunities for them to come to the office and spend time working with the people who support them is really important. Keep them engaged in the business through formal meetings and informal social events," she explained to HR Magazine.

Technology means it is now easier than ever to keep in touch with staff while they are out of the office. Smartphones and tablets let them access email and edit documents while they are on the move. At the same time, conference call technology can be used to get remote workers involved in business meetings and make them feel like they are a valued part of a team.

Human resources director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Plantronics Norma Pearce said the biggest hurdle for businesses is working out how to establish a remote working policy, as many firms are "so institutionalised into believing we have to work in an office, nine to five".

She advises a gradual approach, noting her company  took the approach of letting staff work one day a week at home for an initial period, before expanding the initiative over an 18-month period.