But let’s not panic quite yet. The organizations most worried about working remotely were likely caught off guard by sudden changes. By refocusing their strategy on the cloud and on their employees, businesses can harness some major benefits — remote working isn’t passé yet.
Increased Cloud Costs Don’t Provide The Whole Picture
Perhaps the biggest concern from remote work is cost. Here’s just one example: Cloud costs rose 11% this past quarter and 30% from the same period in 2019.
With more people working from home, companies need to invest more in the cloud to support remote functionalities. But that increase can still be a staggering number for organizations to see — until you dive into it.
For example, the person controlling costs for IT often sits inside of procurement. Their main priority has been how to buy servers cheaply. Now, the focus should be on managing SaaS licensing, what licenses to have and how to manage on-demand items to help make costs more palatable. It’s likely there are repeat licenses or costs that can be cut down upon further examination.
Beyond adjusting strategy and processes, we must change the way we approach remote work, especially within cloud.
For starters, cloud isn’t a cost — it’s an investment.
Yes, you may be spending more on cloud, but you’re saving money elsewhere. Before the pandemic, employers saved an average of $11,000 per half-time remote employee. Extrapolate that to a full year and every remote worker is reducing company costs by $22,000.
Employees will save additional money, too. A recent FlexJobs survey shows the average remote worker saves $4,000 per year by not spending money on gas, coffee, lunches and more clothes for their wardrobe.
Those cost savings play a part in workers’ overall health and happiness. Time spent on commuting and getting ready for work can be replaced with something more valuable like work or extra sleep — leading to more productivity through fewer mistakes, better decision-making and reduced burnout.
Remote working also offers a new way to track success. Now we’re measuring productivity the way we should, based on output instead of how many hours your bottom was in a chair.
A Recruiting Advantage
Working from home used to be a nice perk: “Oh, I can work from home every now and again.” But in the new normal, remote working moves from perk to a key player in employee recruitment.
You no longer need to worry about looking at hyper-localized areas to find new hires. The world is your talent pool.
Beyond the advantage of bringing in new talent, offering a strong remote-working experience incentivizes your current employees to stay loyal, too. In fact, 74% of employees say a remote work option would make them less likely to leave their current company.
Your employees are used to working from home and the benefits it provides. Take that away from them, and they may think less positively about your company and start looking elsewhere.
So how can you offer a strong remote work experience for employees? Like with the cloud, it goes back to having a strategy. That may require a mindset shift, but it doesn’t need to be a binary issue.
For example, my brother works at a huge insurance provider that has a massive office space — even larger than the Pentagon. If employees want to, they can have a permanent desk. Other employees can opt for a hotel system, where they register their desk when they’re going into the office.
Your ideal solution may be more middle of the road like that. You have a collaboration space available for when you need to impress a client or bring a full team in for a meeting, but you’re using it for every employee, every day.
Here’s another way companies can boost remote work: If an employee elects to work from home, offer a monthly tech stipend for their home workspace.
There are plenty of companies doing this already, including Twitter, Google and Twilio. We’re asking employees to use their own resources — like electricity, internet, air conditioning — for the benefit of the company. A stipend is an investment that will lead to improved productivity.
How Prepared Is Your Team?
No doubt, Covid-19 has made business more complicated. While no one could have predicted a change of this magnitude, companies needed to be preparing for a shift to remote work far before the pandemic hit.
It’s like saying, “I didn’t buy home insurance, and now I have to pay $40,000 for a new roof, so homes are bad.”
That’s not true. I simply wasn’t prepared. But it’s not too late to overcome these challenges.
The remote approach doesn’t need to be an all at once proposition, either. For instance, GitLab, a fully remote company, developed a remote work adaptation to break a major change like moving from office to home into smaller, less intimidating chunks.
Covid-19 isn’t going to be the only thing impacting the future of work. There will be new events on the horizon that put us into challenging situations. By shining a light on cloud and employee comfort and being strategic in our preparation and execution within those areas, we’ll reap the benefits.