Small businesses and flexibility: The rise of the remote worker

Damian Hanson, co-founder of CircleLoop, explains how cloud technology is enabling small businesses to be more adaptive and attract more talent...

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The concept of flexibility in business has become the subject of much debate in recent years.

Whether it’s flexible working hours, remote working or different approaches to traditional processes, flexibility and responsiveness is becoming increasingly important, especially for small businesses and start-ups.

Staying competitive as a new business

Research from StartUp Britain revealed that 80 new start-ups were born every hour in 2016, highlighting just how much competition there is for new businesses looking to stand out from the crowd.

With this is mind, small businesses and start-ups who shake off the rigidity of traditional practices and become more adaptive are the ones who will rise above the competition.

Attracting and retaining talent

The concept of flexible working has gained a lot of traction recently. Millennials in particular put a lot of importance on flexible hours and work-life balance when searching for new jobs. Research by Jobsite showed that 39% of millennials would even sacrifice some of their salary for this perk, showing just how crucial it is for many.

This means that start-ups and small businesses offering flexible working as an employment benefit will have the edge over other companies when it comes to winning over the best new talent, as well as keeping them motivated and willing to stay with the company in the long-run.

Technology is making the nine-to-five redundant

20 years ago the traditional nine-to-five, in-office working culture was the norm, as no suitable and reliable alternatives were available to make any other working formats viable.

Fast-forward to 2018, however, and technology has created endless options for businesses to break out of the rigidity of standard business practices and create their own rules.

The rise of cloud technology in particular has revolutionised the way start-ups and small businesses conduct their business activities.

Allowing them to implement disciplined processes while keeping flexibility, UK cloud technology adoption has grown by 75% since 2010, and further growth is inevitable as new technology continues to emerge.

The rise of today’s remote worker

Cloud technology, especially cloud telephony systems, communication apps such as Slack, and project management tools such as Basecamp and Trello, afford businesses increased flexibility in terms of working hours and locations.

With this in mind, start-ups and small businesses who have adopted this kind of cloud technology can offer new recruits the option to work from home, work flexible hours and manage their own time while retaining close contact with other team members and goings-on.

The increased level of employer-employee trust, better work-life balance and relaxed company culture creates a healthy working environment that employees want to stay in for the long-term.

Without the technology, this beneficial setup would be much less viable for running a productive business.

Improved collaboration in the workplace

Cloud-based technology can be accessed at any time, as long as you have an internet connection. This can be a huge benefit for start-ups or small businesses with employees who often work remotely or outside of an office.

Cloud storage services such as Google Drive allow various employees access to information and documents, regardless of whether they’re in the office or working from home.

It also negates the need to send documents to colleagues or clients via email, which can be time-consuming and cumbersome, especially if you need to wade through a mountain of emails to find what you’re looking for.

Similarly, online project management tools such as Basecamp offer collaboration, planning and document sharing, allowing you to work together and keep on track of your workloads regardless of your team’s location.

By streamlining processes via the cloud, your team are able to be more professional and therefore more productive in the long run.

Remaining contactable as a small business

The nature of being a start-up may require running a business from an unconventional office – perhaps a kitchen table or even a local coffee shop. Having reputable contact details and a landline business number, therefore, may initially seem unfeasible.

Cloud-based business phone systems take a modern approach to this issue, allowing users to manage their business phone numbers via an app on their mobile, desktop or tablet. If you regularly travel for work, you can access your business telephone system regardless of where you are in the world.

In a time where communication, speed and efficiency are crucial, start-ups who have the ability to be flexible and adaptable will have an edge in an ever more competitive landscape, and cloud-based telephony services are enabling this competitiveness.

Similarly, if you’re still growing your team and have freelancers working for you, cloud-based business phone systems mean you can use the same business phone number when out of the office via an app. This therefore gives the appearance of a larger, more unified team.

With flexibility becoming ever more important from both a business owner and employee perspective, more growing companies need to begin exploring all the available technology and the doors it can open for an adaptable and progressive future.

You can find out more about some of the best cloud-based VoIP phone systems in our review of UK VoIP providers and phones.

Damian Hanson is co-founder of cloud-based business phone system Circleloop.

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