Working from home will continue for almost half of Australia’s small businesses even after the coronavirus lockdown is over and our normal lives resume, according to research by Zoho Corporation and Telsyte.
The number of people working remotely increased dramatically after the first COVID-19 restrictions were put in place and we’ve discovered we are able to do our jobs and maintain our productivity even when working remotely.
Before the coronavirus crisis, working from home was preferred by one third (32 per cent) of small businesses with a further 18 per cent intending to maintain remote working practices, according to the Zoho Remote Working Revolution report.
Thanks to the benefits of connectivity, the accessibility of cloud technology and cloud storage we were able to make the shift at the start of the pandemic with many employees set to continue to embrace working from home.
The report also points out that business travel, events and meetings are also all set to reduce significantly because of not only employee reluctance but also from the realisation their value might have been overestimated.
“The nature of work will change forever as the number of businesses deciding to work remotely and from home will skyrocket, even after lockdowns and social distancing restrictions are lifted,” said Vijay Sundaram, Zoho Chief Strategy Officer.
“If there’s one thing business owners and workers are understanding in the wake of COVID-19, it’s that a job is something you do rather than somewhere you go.
“Digital transformation of work has traditionally been the domain of big business, but in recent months technology has helped hundreds of thousands of small businesses pivot their operations and workforce.
“The pandemic has become an unwitting global laboratory for models of work that could have otherwise taken decades to unfold.
“This will upturn norms that have been accepted for generations. Relentless innovation in affordable technology will put remote work within the reach of every company, lowering costs and creating new agility.
“Employee results, rather than physical presence or close monitoring, will become the sole measure of performance across industries, as employers change traditional mindsets.”
There are numerous benefits for both employers and employees with working from home including unlocking more time and saving money.
The research shows 47 per cent of SMBs would work remotely if they could with 45 per cent believing it will also provide more free time and more time with their families.
State by state, Western Australia is twice as likely to work remotely as people in the ACT, Tasmania and the Northern Territory.
In terms of industries, tech and education and the most savvy when it comes to working remotely followed by the arts and recreation industries.
On the savings side, regular metro commuters can save up to $10.50 a day – the cost of getting to and from work – by working from home.
But there are also some downsides about working from home according to business owners including security and technology issues.
We have seen an increase in cybercrime and scams since the coronavirus lockdown with most employees working outside the protection of their corporate IT environment.
For many businesses owners, like Peter McCarthy, founder of Australia’s leading wealth platform myprosperity, remote working has brought a boost in productivity.
“Like many businesses, we’ve been working remotely for the past two months,” he said.
“In fact, by simply cutting commute time alone, we’re freeing up valuable time to drive innovation and growth projects.
“Given how successful recent months have been, we’ll be moving to a hybrid model for the foreseeable future, with our teams working remotely for at least a couple of days a week even when restrictions are lifted.”
“We’re also reviewing our approach to working hours, and staggering not only where people work, but when they work too.
“While there may be a drawback for some, in terms of missing the office culture and the camaraderie of being together as a team, we can function just as effectively at home.
“Our team has embraced the change, and there has been no direct downside to operating remotely so the positives far outweigh the negatives.”
Zoho recently launched Remotely — a set of 11 free apps to help businesses operate remotely — and the uptake has been significant with 15,000 new companies across the world signing up in the first few weeks alone.