Many businesses are looking to cut costs as economies face recession, but some enterprises may be ignoring one of the most effective ways to trim the fat while boosting productivity — by embracing remote working.

The power is in your hands

We know Macs, iPhones, and iPads have been seeing increased deployment across the enterprise. We also know (because IBM, SAP and so many companies tell us) that businesses that embrace Apple kit also see reduced overall cost of ownership and lower tech support costs. Employee choice delivers big benefits.

We also know, because employee surveys tell us, that remote work is popular among workers who truly value the improved work/life balance they gain skipping hours of commuting. They spend this time connecting with pets, friends, and families, which leaves them more motivated (and more emotionally prepared) to focus during work time.

Given the choice, most workers don’t want to return to the office full time.

In 2023, we will see more businesses accept the huge benefits waiting to be unlocked by fully embracing hybrid/remote working.

A new growth paradigm

Think about expansion, for example. A business seeking to grow its workforce always faces problems finding the right office facilities for employees. Not only this, but once office spaces are chosen, it’s almost inevitable that some existing workers may find it hard or impossible to attend, increasing staff turnover and discontent.

Recruiting new workers to replace those who depart usually exposes a company to additional expense (and not just recruitment costs), over and above the cost of office facilities. And that’s even before you consider what can turn into hefty reductions in travel costs.

For companies seeking to cut operating costs, an embrace of remote work means you can trim office expenses while maintaining a full staff complement.

These companies reduce real estate expenditures, gain access to the very best workers from across a global talent pool, and end up with staffers who want to be productive because they enjoy the autonomy and more time for their families.

Embrace the management challenge

In the last couple of years, we’ve learned that managing remote teams demands some degree of intentionality. Yes, it’s good to bring staff together to build collective responsibility, but there are better ways to do so than forcing people to sit at desks in the same room all day.

There has been a lot of experimentation and I’ve learned of a range of different approaches to build team feeling —for example:

  • Some companies offer an “office as a service” arrangement, in which staff are free to work there all day if they prefer, or visit to access key resources such as dedicated meeting rooms and a better printer.
  • Other firms take workers out on away-days to build team cohesion.
  • Still others encourage staff to spend informal time together during work time, focusing on building relationships rather than getting stuff done.
  • Another approach: if one member attending a team meeting is doing so via video, all team members do the same— even if they sit at the desk to do so. In this way, companies attempt to break the unspoken hierarchy that sometimes undermines meetings.

But meetings must be focused, effective and worth the while of those who attend. It makes no sense to insist on all-hands in-person meetings if everyone doesn’t get a chance to contribute, or must attend meetings that have no relevance to them.

If you don’t need to be there, you shouldn’t be made to be there.

As business evolves into new models, the battle between observation-based presenteeism-based management and goal-based management continues.

You could look at it this way: a presenteeist manager may spot an employee reading a newspaper in the office and assume this means they aren’t working. But observation is faulty. That employee may be reading a piece about a customer prospect, or simply taking a little time out while they try to focus on developing a new strategy to achieve a business objective.

The lesson is that even in traditional in office workplaces, management needs to lean toward goal-based management, not observation-driven response.

The move toward surveillance-based technologies to manage remote workers is both anachronistic and destructive. Employees hate this because it invades their privacy and sense of peaceful enjoyment in their homes. It’s far better to trust employees and manage by results.

It doesn’t matter how many emails they send or how many hours they spend with their fingers on the keyboard, what matters is how many agreed-on targets they achieve. In any case, employees are smart, and if you want to keep the most motivated people delivering the best work for your business, you don’t spy on them, you trust them and judge them by results. Fail to do so, and they will leave.

The eternal security challenge

There is always the battle to protect enterprise security.

We know (partly because we’ve written about it) that enterprise security is under attack. The challenge when handling remote employees is that those attacks take place beyond traditional security perimeters. We know that companies in the space are working to secure those endpoints, and we know that managed devices already deliver a good degree of security. This will improve across the next year.

But when even a small business can sign up for a device management service at no or low cost to secure their devices, the security argument to keep information inside four walls is receding. And given Apple’s devices (while not perfect) remain the most secure of platforms, there’s little doubt that delivering autonomy all the way through the employee experience, from what you use to work to where you sit to work, will deliver security benefits to any company brave enough to embrace it in the coming years.

Surely that’s a winning formula. That’s why we’ll see more, not less, remote work in 2023 – and a lot more Apple devices in business.

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Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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