Businesses of all shapes and sizes have had a lot to deal with over the past year. One particular theme the Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated was remote working. We’ve called it all sorts of names, such as teleworking and WFH, but it boils down to working anywhere other than an “official” office space. And when the pandemic hit in the UK and the first lockdown came into effect, many workers were required to work from home at very short notice. Some businesses were prepared, having already nurtured a flexible working environment, while others were caught by surprise.
Having enabled our workforce here at ieDigital to work remotely on an ad-hoc basis over the past few years, and with a distributed workforce in the UK and overseas, we were better placed than most to move swiftly and seamlessly into this challenging period. Nonetheless, the pandemic forced us to work on an entirely remote basis for the first time. The challenges were tough, but through the strength of our culture and the tools at our disposal, we’ve been able to not only survive the past year, but thrive as a business.
Providing flexibility for employees
When it comes to location, prior to the pandemic we had enabled a small number of ieDigital colleagues to work remotely from abroad on a case-by-case basis. Our revised goal is to enable anyone to work from anywhere. And we’re in good company. Following its February announcement that most of its employees could move to a permanent remote working model, financial technology company Revolut has extended its remote working policy to enable employees to work overseas for up to two months a year. And Spotify appears to have put a lot of thinking into its work-from-home programme, too. At the end of March this year, Nationwide launched its “work anywhere” plan that would allow thousands of employees to find their own most productive working spaces. This will have profound effects on working life. While some may think a return to the office is inevitable, evidence suggests otherwise. Take a look at the image below from the Visual Capitalist to see what employees want and how many of them want it!
We’re incredibly excited about what these changes mean for people’s well-being, for our business, and the increased flexibility to choose the way in which we all live our lives.
The work-life-business balance, plus benefits
ieDigital is and has always been a diverse team, reflecting a range of nationalities from around the world. We are now enjoying being able to leverage our culture, tools and technology to enable our staff to spend longer away from their home, either abroad or even simply elsewhere within the UK. Some examples include staff working temporarily from Spain, India, the Philippines and Bournemouth. Through a combination of annual leave and remote working, colleagues can spend more time with their friends, families and loved ones. We believe this will improve the work-life balance and well-being of our team, benefiting them as individuals, their families and communities, as well as our business and the excellence we’re able to deliver our clients. We see it as a win-win.
Adopting a flexible approach to how we work not only benefits employees. According to Wellbeing Pulse (the Bank Workers Charity blog): “Companies benefit from reduced absenteeism, increased punctuality and better retention rates of working parents and carers. And in a competitive hiring market, it makes employers more attractive.”
While many employers in the UK are currently trying to decide what balance of remote and office-based working will work best for them, here at ieDigital we will continue to seek ways to further embrace flexible working, and the ways in which working life is changing across the business landscape.
There are still many challenges ahead, and much to learn. The value of internal communications and the centralising of content have become sharp points of focus. Security will always be a dominant factor in managing a distributed workforce. Yet, these are obstacles to tackle, not avoid, and we’re delighted that at least from our own corner of the world, we’re prepared for the journey.