Ditching The Physical Office: Is It the Right Choice for Your Business?
With the widespread use of cloud computing to store office files, aiding accessibility and sharing from any location, a much faster Web and universal network coverage, businesses now have the option of breaking free of set physical office locations in favor of Internet-based offices.
Telecommuting, or employees working from home, is certainly an interesting proposition, and something that many businesses are actively pursuing. Reasons are primarily cost-driven. Office space comes at a steep price no matter where you live. And then there are associated costs and the matter of insurance that keep the overheads high.
If you’re a newly set-up company, the thought of investing a tidy sum each month into office rent may not be the most attractive.
But what options do you have? Is ditching a physical location and working from the comfort of your living room, managing employees in various locations via the Internet, a feasible option for you?
Well, that depends on a number of factors. Such as:
The Type of Business You Run
Some businesses are more suited to be conducted over the Internet than others. Content creation, sales, marketing, business development and website designing, would be some examples.
None of these really need people to be physically holed up in one place.
On the other hand, if your business requires a few people to get together every day and brainstorm to create things or services, like making music, consulting people, or carrying out repairs, then it goes without saying that you will need to invest in a good office.
As the owner of your business, you would be in the best position to determine if your business really needs to be tied down to one location, and whether that will be helpful in the long run or not.
The Amount of Talent Available Locally
Not all entrepreneurs are located in well-connected big cities that attract the best international talent from all over the world. It’s tempting to think that you can come up with a revolutionary business idea and run away with it, but your success will depend to a very large extent on the talent and capabilities of the people you hire. And here’s the thing. You may not straightaway find enough good and relevant people in your city or town. You may have to then actively consider expanding your search to other cities, possibly even countries, and let people work from you from their location.
This will give you the talent on hire that you need, and will turn out for a good and convenient job opportunity for the telecommuters.
The Professionalism of the Employees
Working from home requires a strong sense of professionalism to get through the typical day with all the work done on time and to the best ability of the employee.
Needless to say, not everybody can pull this off. In fact, working from home is also disparagingly referred to as “shirking from home.” One of the main reasons for this is that there are numerous distractions at home, especially in a house with kids. Some people cannot focus with so many distractions, while others need to have a set routine in place to get their creative juices flowing. Yet others insist of face-to-face interaction to feel the team spirit.
But not everybody is the same. There are those who are as focused, professional, and driven on their own (perhaps more so) as they would be in an office environment. As per one study, working from home results in more productivity. This is attributed to the quiet at home, lesser distractions, a better work-life balance (having cut out the daily stress of commute), and in some cases, better sleep as well. Obviously this applies to those who are able to separate their work and personal lives when working from home.
Everybody is different and has different strengths. If you are thinking of starting a business and running it from home with long distance hiring, or if you own an office and are thinking of downscaling to save on costs, you need to be clear about the kind of people you keep or hire to work for you from remote locations.
Any employee that you feel doesn’t exhibit enough professionalism when working for you from a different location, it would be better for you to cut your losses and get rid of them sooner or later.
Do the Benefits Outweigh the Costs?
The practice of working from home is getting increasingly common. “In the United States, about 10% of the workforce reports working from home at least one day a week, while the proportion that primarily works from home has almost doubled over the past 30 years, from 2.3% in 1980 to 4.3% in 2010.” Here’s another example of a successful business that does not have a central physical location and is yet going from strength to strength.
There are many benefits of running a web-based business. You save money and are able to hire talented workforce regardless of where they are located. If you hire the right people, you are looking at improved productivity and reduced costs in one go, which is always welcome news for any business, especially a new business.
On the flip side, however, is the question of people giving you their best work or being able to bring the same level of professionalism to their work as they would in a physical office.
The quality of the team you have is much more important than their location.
You need to ask yourself if you are certain you will be able to manage people, projects, and deadlines from a distance. If the answer is yes, and if your line of business does not really need a big real estate investment, you can try having a web-based business. If that doesn’t work out, you can always return to the traditional way of running a business.
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