We live in an age in which the traditional model of an office job, i.e. that of an employee working in an office at his/her employer’s place of business from 8 or 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. five days a week is being eroded by the possibilities presented by new technologies and the changing capabilities and desires of a rapidly evolving workforce. The model of remote work in which an employee works somewhere other than his/her place of employment is gaining ground for many jobs that were once restricted to the traditional office model. This presents some exciting possibilities.
A remote worker might work from home, a coffee shop, a maker space or studio, or work at a client’s (or stakeholder’s) place of business, or shift back and forth at will between these and any number of other options, including part of the week in the office and part of the week elsewhere. Obviously, not all jobs are amenable to this type of arrangement. A restaurant, e.g., at least at this time, needs its wait staff in house! However, it is worth exploring which jobs are a good fit for remote work and what measures would need to be in place to make remote work a beneficial arrangement from both the business perspective and the team member perspective.
Entrepreneurs thinking about starting a business and small businesses already in existence should be thinking about what jobs can be performed, and what services can be provided, remotely. This opens up possibilities of new types of businesses, products and services. It opens up possibilities for attracting talent from anywhere and being open for business at any time. It also offers the potential for reducing overhead costs while offering employee benefits of greater freedom for where they live and work, reduced commute time, and more flexibility with work-life balance.
Before implementing a remote work strategy, however, there are issues that need to be addressed such as whether the remote work environment is safe and conducive to work, whether appropriate information and cybersecurity measures are in place, how employee productivity is going to be measured and how employees are going to stay engaged with other team members and the company and not feel isolated or forgotten, etc. If relevant issues are addressed, small businesses can leverage remote work to develop new products and services, to connect with talent in other parts of the country or even other parts of the globe, to offer a work model conducive to acquiring and retaining great team members, and/or to save costs.
What opportunities does the potential of remote work open up for your small business?
Laurie Pieper, Ph.D.
America’s SBDC Kansas