Empowering Employees as e-Workers: Best Practices in Remote Working & Leave Management

The Next Workplace Revolution: Rise of Remote Working

Really, How Much Better Could Remote Working Possibly Be?

One extra day’s worth of work each week – that’s how much more productive Ctrip’s employees got when their company allowed them to work from home in their pajamas.

34% of global business leaders say half their company’s full-time workforce will be working remotely by 2020. Now, here’s why this is absolutely mind-blowing.

For long, the world of business operated under the assumption that gathering employees within the same physical space was the best way to boost productivity. Chains of management were created to enforce immediate answerability and constant supervision inside an environment designed to focus employees intensely on their professional responsibilities.

The times when such micro-management was considered conducive to work output are long gone.

34% of business leaders say half their company’s workforce will be working remotely by 2020

In fact, the freedom of remote working has become “a criterion that people are expressly looking for before they’ll sign on the dotted line,” said Adam Kingl, Director of Learning Solutions at the London Business School. “It’s not a perk or reward.

Digital natives are now moving into management, and “are starting to be the architects of workplace culture.” If your boss understands that “work is fluid – it can happen anywhere, at any time,” then there is much less emphasis on “being around for its own sake.

So What Does Any Of This Mean?

Employers in the current business environment can save up to $11,000 per year per remote employee. Is it any surprise then that, between 2014 and 2015, FlexJobs reported a 26% increase in postings for remote employees?

Today’s remote workers are happier as well, and quit 50 percent less! But even putting aside domestic remote workforces and the advantages of e-Workers, the idea of physical congregation of employees within the boundaries of a nation is an old one.

Between 2014 and 2015, FlexJobs reported a 26% increase in postings for remote employees

Newer companies increasingly hire their workforce from all compass points on the globe, and enterprises are built and maintained by professionals scattered across different companies. It allows CEOs to widen the talent pool and access a wide diversity of skills and perspectives to better run their business.

A B2B app for the US market may be coded by teams of developers working from Moscow and Beijing, managed by executives from Boston and Berlin, with customer support from Dhaka and Sydney, and sales personnel from New York and New Delhi. This isn’t a hyperbolic what-if either, but a rather factual snapshot of many software enterprises today.

And what does all of this mean?

It means that there’s a quiet revolution on the rise. It means that the base nature of the workforce is changing once again.

Today’s remote workers are happier as well, and quit 50 percent less!

It means that if you want to hire, and retain, the best talent for your business, your biztech tools need to better empower your employees when – not if – they choose to work remotely. And let’s be honest – you can’t achieve that in today’s day and age without the Cloud.

Empowering Efficient Remote Working

Right off the bat, let’s get the obvious out of the way – Cloud solutions are the best thing to have happened to a remote workforce. In fact, a report by Gartner Inc. shows that 80% of organizations will be using Cloud solutions in one form or another over the next 12 months.

In previous articles of this series, we’ve often spoken about the various criteria which can make or break efficient workforce management. As of today, Cloud computing is the only such technological advancement since the birth of the internet which not only meets every single criterion on the list, but vastly improves upon existing technology in every field.

80% of organizations will be using Cloud solutions in one form or another over the next 12 months

I mean, there’s a good reason why Cisco reports – by 2019, 86% of all workloads will be processed by Cloud data centers. There are even proponents in the Cloud industry who are growing at the rates of 90% per annum.

So, let’s explore the magic of Cloud computing, and how it helps your remote workers.

“Garbage In, Garbage Out”

This is a popular maxim to denote that the most important metric in any business organization is the data quality. If your input data is garbage to begin with, fraught with errors, any work done upon it or insights dependent on its quality are likely to be garbage as well.

While, back in the Digital Stone Age, digitization of data vastly improved the accuracy of information over physical documentation, its share-ability was as yet hampered by the limited quality of connectivity services available. This meant that, across the world in different offices, people still preferred to digitize their own data and localize the information rather than create central global repositories.

The most important metric in any business organization is the data quality

While it may not have had as wide-spread an impact on the biggest organizations in the world, Cloud computing has single-handedly lifted all barriers on data sharing and improved data quality for smaller to medium-sized businesses like us.

Storing and processing data on remote servers rather than local computers or storage devices has greatly increased the visibility of errors in data, leading to rapid audits and corrections in data repositories.

A large deterrent to remote working in the past was that – if the data provided to an employee was incorrect, and if the employee failed to realize the error, they would still be held partly accountable for a mistake which was of little fault of their own making.

Why? Because “you shouldn’t have worked from home. Jonah or Lizzie could have easily spotted and fixed the mistake for you, if you’d actually been in office as you’re supposed to be.

Part of the anti-remote-working stance was the constant attachment to the belief that employees are being compensated for coming to office and leaving behind their personal lives for half the day, and not just paid for the work they perform. Errors in data quality reinforced that stance by necessitating workers to aggregate in ways that allowed suspected errors to be double-checked by hollering to a team-mate across the room.

By increasing the quality of data across the board, and providing ways for employees to remotely flag suspected incorrect data and share it with others via the same repository platform, today’s e-Workers have far less headaches associated with erroneous information.

The reduced errors from needing to repeat work conducted off of erroneous data alone has increased efficiency and productivity multifold, while minimizing business losses from wasted work-hours, thus increasing the average revenue earned per employee.

Don’t believe us? Well, Apple has scores of exclusively remote working jobs, from Advisors to Team and Area Managers. And their revenue per employee has grown from $1.01 million in 2008 to $1.86 million per employee in 2015.

Global Access

Maybe people today have forgotten exactly how bad remote data access was for SMBs and their employees before Cloud came along.

Larger businesses could afford purchasing and maintaining mountainous server banks on their own, complete with an in-house access protection and limitation platform. Yet, smaller businesses like us could hardly afford such means.

Consequently, we e-mailed pertinent information to one another upon demand like we were still in the Digital Stone Age. Or had to set up our own in-house access limitations which were either digital, if small companies like us had the resources, or were managed by other employees.

That meant more bureaucratic regulations to register which employee was accessing what data, and why. And it presented a clear barrier to rapid business practices, which meant that we were losing out on a lot of productivity. How much, you ask? Well, World Bank data shows that it could be as high as 113% profitability and 56% labor productivity – which is often all the difference between a stable small business, and a struggling one.

Cloud solutions cut away unnecessary bureaucracy and earn your workforce’s loyalty

Cloud computing allowed us to transfer the data access and security headaches onto another business altogether, while even bolstering the processing power available to employees to work faster. It meant that – whether our employees were working from London or Latvia, they still had access to the same information, without needing middlemen on the company’s payroll to record and regulate that flow of data.

This advantage alone significantly reduced the need for having employees under the same roof, or even in the same country, in order to work efficiently for their company.

However, while these two advantages are crucial to empowering your employees as better e-Workers, while improving the bottom-line of your company, few other Cloud solutions cut away unnecessary bureaucracy and earn your workforce’s loyalty like Cloud-powered Time-off management systems.

Goodbye Office Bureaucracy; Hello, Remote Leave Management

Remember the old days when just figuring out how many days of paid leave you had left meant an email to the HR department, followed by a few days of waiting, leading to a meeting with your HR supervisor who would then sit with you and determine which of your past leaves would qualify under time-off or sick leaves?

And none of this was entirely possible without repeated trips to the office because you couldn’t possibly figure any of this out without a physical sit-down with Human Resources.

Now, what if none of that was necessary in the least? How, you ask? Automation, and good old Cloud.

What Are Cloud-powered Time-Off Management Systems?

Simply put, Time-Off Management or Leave Management systems take the entire leave-processing function of your current HR department, and automate it.

They allow employees to:

  • Check their leave balances anytime, anywhere
  • Remotely apply for leave with a single click
  • One-touch leave approval from supervisors, saving management’s as well as employee’s time
  • Update and maintain team as well as individual working calendars to ascertain best times and greatest transparency for leave approval
  • Record leave times and provide work attendance data for employees
  • Nullify invalid paid leave management requests when leave balance is nil, thus removing any redundant work on behalf of management, or waiting just to be denied on behalf of employee

Their presence on the Cloud means that employees also have integrated access to the Leave Management platforms from a variety of devices, whether from your PC when working at home, to your smartphone when commuting to the hospital in case of an emergency.

These systems, when integrated with relevant business tools like Google Apps and Slack – as CakeHR provides in its Time and Attendance software – significantly enhance communication between teams and their supervisors. This cuts through bureaucratic red-tape to minimize a leave-management request to its simplest components:

[Employee] “4 Paid Leave Days Left (balance check); No other team member on leave tomorrow; No significant work deadlines (synced Team work calendar); Taking leave for next 2 Days; One Click – Request Sent.”

[Boss] “4 Paid Leave Days Left (individual employee balance); No other member on leave tomorrow (synced Team work calendar); Okay; One Click – Request Approved.”

And that’s it, folks! No bureaucratic delays, or time spent conversing back and forth for each leave, or work-hours spent processing and recording leave paperwork. It’s just as simple as that – and it couldn’t have been possible without the Cloud.

So, How Much Money Do Cloud Leave Management Solutions Actually Save My Business?

Well, as this use-case shows – a medium sized company with 165 employees stands to save at least $180,000 per annum, assuming that their HR department takes a single hour for all work relating to processing a leave request. This reflects savings of roughly 83% of all time and productivity costs associated with leave management from said company.

A medium sized company with 165 employees stands to save at least $180,000 per annum

And, not to put too fine a point on it, but that was achieved by a mid-level HR software alone, much less a globally positioned integrated BizTech like CakeHR – which, as of 2016, is now the 6th best HR solution on the planet, as ranked by GetApp.

In Closing: Cloud Leave Management To Empower e-Workers And Company Profitability

Cloud-based leave management systems provide mass automation and a minimalistic approach to business processes, thus streamlining your organization, making it vastly more efficient and productive. They also provide a tangible ROI through intense savings in employee management and organizational structure across the board.

But, more importantly for your employees and e-Workers, they provide more autonomy and power to the individual, and lift them from mere cogs in your work machine to individual components with a greater say in their work life. This Employee Self-Service (ESS) functionality is the greatest boost to employee engagement since the concept of benefits & rewards systems first came to be.

Notably, roughly 50% of companies in the Aberdeen Group’s 2014 survey cited focus on Employee Self-Service as a top priority, with more than 80% of organizations recognizing this HR service delivery to the workforce as crucial to employee engagement.

And, most importantly for you as an entrepreneur, every 5% increase in employee engagement comes with a 3% correlated rise in revenue growth in the subsequent year, right off the bat. So, we’re going to assume that we don’t need to sell you on the benefits of Cloud & employee empowerment any more than that, and keep our closing statements short and to-the-point.

Every 5% increase in employee engagement comes with a 3% correlated rise in revenue growth

There’s a revolution in the workforce. If you identify and support it, your employees will be happier, work harder for you, and quit their job far less often. If you don’t, your competitors will do it instead for your talent pool.

So, empower your employees to work from wherever they please. Concentrate on the work, and not their location. Remove unnecessary bureaucratic practices to make your business run faster.

And, most importantly, let them manage their own time-off and leaves as functioning, responsible adults in a mature society instead of treating them like schoolchildren. Honestly. In the highly automated 21st century, how is an HR-department-regulated leave-seeking process still a thing?

 

Aniket.

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