Remote working is fundamental to business agility and success
By Dakota Murphey
More than ever before, businesses need to adapt quickly to succeed. The digital age and consumer demand are driving businesses to deliver more customised products, and faster, more personalised service.
Without a doubt, business competition today is fiercer than it ever has been. The global market economy demands it. Thanks to the Internet and the Fourth Industrial Revolution, new online tech products can reach millions of customers in just a few months. Consumer expectations are high.
The inevitable consequence for companies across the world is that they’re having to adapt, be flexible and evolve quickly to meet demand and stay ahead of the crowd. Business agility is no longer something businesses need to adopt in times of crisis – it needs to be an ingrained part of day-in-day-out business strategy.
Remote working is becoming mainstream and it is a fundamental part of business agility.
Let’s take a look at what an agile culture means, how remote working benefits this type of business model and why that leads to business success.
What is an agile business culture?
Essentially, a business with an agile culture reacts quickly to problems. There’s a different mindset in agile companies – problems are seen as learning opportunities. Management Consultants, McKinsey, say there are five trademarks in agile organisations.
- The business strategy in an agile organisation is based around a shared purpose – all employees in the company are on board with the business vision
- Agile cultures tend to have a flatter structure (rather than hierarchical) with strong leadership
- There is a culture of information sharing and learning, which enables teams to spot and respond quickly to problems
- The evolution of technology is wholeheartedly embraced
- Dynamic teams enjoy a high level of role mobility and opportunities for progression
How remote working benefits business agility
CEO and Founder of Cimaglia Productions, Matt Cimaglia, dismantled his company to make it more agile. Adopting a remote workforce was a big part of that. “Years ago, my company used to be a large-scale creative agency employing dozens of people in a downtown Chicago office.
“Now I work with a team of industry pros I’ve handpicked from nearly two decades in the business.
“The difference between my company then and now is striking.
“Rather than occupying pricey downtown real estate and maintaining a huge stack of servers, our data is stored in the cloud and my team is spread around the continent. I have a head writer in Toronto, a storyboard artist in Chicago and a cutting-edge animation team in New York City.”
This is a telling story. Many entrepreneurs are now seeing the benefits of adopting this kind of business model. It not only opens businesses up to a greater (global) talent pool, it enables them to pivot and change priorities exceptionally well. Businesses using a remote workforce are not held back by huge overheads and can, as a result, take bigger risks. They also embrace innovation.
Bob Bannister, Founder of iManage Performance, offers remote worker training courses to managers and remote workers – he says, “In our online, digital world, fixed desk working is a thing of the past. Most of us now work at least part of the time remotely in a different location to our main place of work.”
Remote working has evolved largely because of technology, but also in response to the workforce demographic. Many talented people (parents returning to work, students and semi-retired people) want flexible working arrangements. Talent shortages have also been a driving force when it comes to flexible working.
Technological advancement is also a key enabler of mobility. Talent can be reached all over the world. Business people don’t have to be onsite to work, talk to colleagues, attend meetings or do deals.
Instant messaging, video conferencing, employee engagement tools, project management tools, meeting schedulers, communication suites and more have eliminated the need for a business workforce to be within the same four walls.
We live in an age where people can work across time zones from anywhere in the world there is an Internet connection – businesses can operate 24/7.
Remote working, business agility and business success
Sarah McLellan, Consulting Director for recruitment software provider, SHL’s UK and Ireland business, argues that organisations must focus on four areas in order to flourish in the new world of work – these are agility, diversity, inclusion and digitalisation. She says these are all people factors that present the greatest opportunity to transform productivity.
The structure of work is changing. Technology has enabled people to work flexibly and remotely and this is challenging the traditional 9-5 office-based model. The modern workforce is dynamic, multi-generational, mobile, and collaborative. According to a recent Clarizen survey, 70 per cent of businesses have employees working in numerous locations or from home.
With agility becoming increasingly business critical, working practices inevitably have to change. Businesses clinging to out-dated methods of working will suffer, not because they refuse to jump on the bandwagon of the latest management trends but because in the commercial reality, they will be at a clear disadvantage. Moving forward, businesses need to embrace remote working – staff need to be able to work anywhere, anytime and with any device to ensure business decisions can be made as quickly as possible.This is a huge challenge for businesses. Manging remote teams requires a whole different skill set to managing an office-based team. Nurturing effective collaboration is key. But enabling remote working can boost productivity, improve employee motivation and increase business resilience – these are essential ingredients for business success. Is your business ready?