When the pandemic hit, businesses across the UK—and across the world—were forced to become more agile, plunged into the realm of remote working at a moment’s notice. And what we learned was that large scale remote operations were not only possible; they were effective.
So as we look forward to what comes next, considering what sort of ‘new normal’ we, as a sector, will adopt in 2021 and beyond, we need to ask ourselves—should my charity consider going remote full-time?
How other sectors are adapting
Remote working is not a new concept, but the way we treat it has changed. What was once considered a ‘perk’ is quickly becoming ‘the new norm’, and many candidates expect it to be part of working life.
Since the onset of Covid-19, several sectors have committed to long-term remote working to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their staff. This has been most notable in the tech industry, with organisations like Google, Twitter, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft extending remote working options well into 2021.
But this trend was on the rise even before the pandemic hit. According to the CIPD, the number of remote working jobs has risen by nearly 80% in the past 20 years. So knowing now that remote working can and does work in the charity sector, are we more likely to consider the benefits of embracing it long-term?
How remote working enhances your organisation
The most obvious benefit of remote working in the charity sector is costs. Just think about it—if your whole team logged in from home every day, you’d save money on things like overhead costs, transit subsidies and office rentals. Of course, not every role in a charity can be done remotely and not every charity is set up to be remote—some work directly with the community or face-to-face with vulnerable people. But if you can realistically make the adjustment, cutting down on office space can save valuable funds that you can put to better use elsewhere in your organisation.
Then there’s the environmental impact of remote working. When your employees work from home, they’re commuting less. That means less greenhouse gas emissions, less paper waste and less energy spent heating or cooling a large office. In fact, studies show that remote workers have the same potential impact on air quality as planting an entire forest of 91 million trees.
But it’s not just about how it benefits you; it’s about how it benefits your employees. Remember, happy employees stick around longer—that’s just a fact. So if you could provide your employees with the flexibility that remote working has to offer, you might just improve your staff retention.
Put yourself in your employees’ shoes. If you were able to work remotely full-time, you’d benefit from:
- A better work/life balance
- Less stress from time spent commuting
- Less money spent on commuting and buying lunches
- Fewer interruptions throughout the day, meaning higher productivity
How remote working impacts diversity and inclusion
Of course, a big concern spreading across the sector at the moment is how to adopt new inclusive practices that result in a more diverse charity workforce. By opting to embrace remote working long-term, you’re opening up possibilities for a wider range of candidates and employees than ever before.
Remote work allows organisations to hire people from different socioeconomic, geographical and cultural backgrounds. Not being restricted by a certain location means you can cast a wider net when it comes to recruitment, opening up opportunities for candidates who may not have been able to afford the commute or are limited by a disability.
The flexibility remote working provides allows your employees to juggle work with things like caring responsibilities, healthcare appointments and other limitations that may have previously gotten in the way.
Attracting the workforce of the future
The global workforce is changing, and in order to attract the best candidates, you need to keep up. These last few months have given millions of UK workers a taste of what working from home can accomplish, and many are leaning towards opportunities that provide that same level of flexibility.
According to a recent survey conducted by Eskenzi, 91% of the UK workforce would prefer to continue working from home long after the restrictions have been lifted. In other words, expectations have changed, and investing in a new remote business model could be the key to unlocking greater productivity in the future.