When the first lockdown came into force in the UK in March 2020, Brits were given orders to stay at home in a bid to control the spread of the novel coronavirus. Those who were able to continue their jobs away from their usual place of work found themselves setting up what we then believed would be temporary hot-desks within our own homes – on kitchen tables, dining tables, in the spare room, on the sofa, sometimes even in bed. Surely, surely – we thought – the pandemic would peak and be over within a matter of weeks.
Oh how blissfully naive we were back then.
As restrictions remained in place, at varying levels, for the next (almost) two years, “dining table offices” evolved, as those who were able to, decided to refurbish spare rooms, garages and garden sheds into functional home offices. So much so, that “enough space for a home office” became a key selling point for house hunters.
One silver lining that fell out of the many struggles of this pandemic, was that lockdowns proved how remote or hybrid working could not only work for businesses, but could bring with it a host of benefits – both for the business itself and also for its employees.
In addition to offering a better work/life balance for staff, removing an often carbon and time-guzzling commute, boosting productivity and reducing the risk of burnout, remote working can also have a positive impact on a business’s bottom line.
Remote working, plus sustainable tech, offers big savings for SMEs
According to new research from Hoxton Macs, SMEs could save almost £40,000 a year on overheads alone, when switching to a fully remote working model. In addition, for businesses wanting to reduce their impact on the planet, choosing second-hand technology over new devices could not only be the more sustainable option, but it could also shave 46 percent off a company’s equipment spend.
“More and more businesses are looking to go carbon-neutral, and buying refurbished tech can make a massive difference in your budget as well as your carbon footprint, without making concessions on business efficiency,” says Ben Higgs, Founder of Hoxton Macs.
According to the research, companies spend around 4.4-11.4 percent of their annual revenue on IT. At least 20 percent of that spend is typically on new devices, which means a business with a turnover of £5million a year spends between £44,000 and £114,000 a year on devices used by its employees. Switching to refurbished devices rather than new could shave an additional £20,240 and £52,400 from spending – enough to hire a new recruit.
Tim Robertson’s team at GetWaterFit work fully remotely and have seen the benefits of choosing refurbished devices.
“Refurbished devices are the same high quality but at less cost, allowing us to get high-spec machines for our staff that doesn’t cost the earth. Since we’re working fully remotely, the team each requires a laptop for flexibility both in and out of the home. Second-hand tech allows us to minimise our overhead while providing the best kit available,” Tim says.
Big savings are not the only reason businesses opt for buying refurbished, with many citing the reduced carbon footprint as a big plus. Using Apple’s own data, up to 84 percent of a device’s carbon footprint is generated in the initial production and transport. Buying refurbished equipment extends the life of each product and bypasses these initial production and transportation completely.
It’s always better to repair and re-use, than to send perfectly good tech to landfill.
Hybrid working is here to stay
The desire for a more flexible way of working has been backed up by a report from Advanced, which found that while 70 percent of employees surveyed want to return to the office, only 6 percent want to do this on a full-time basis.
A similar study of 3,000 workers by the University of Strathclyde found that 78 per cent of respondents said they would prefer to work in the office for only two days or less. Almost a third – 31 per cent – said they would prefer not to spend any time at all in the office.
As England returns to “Plan A” and restrictions ease in the rest of the UK, some businesses that were operating fully remotely during the strictest lockdowns have asked their employees to return to the office full-time. However, many – upon consulting with their staff – have chosen to adopt a hybrid working environment, where employees are required to be in the office for only a day or two a week.
According to a 2021 survey by XpertHR, despite reluctance from some employees to return to the workplace, 29 percent of UK organisations surveyed decided to implement hybrid working for all employees, whilst 32 percent planned to do the same for some employees, while enforcing office-based working for the remainder. Only 4 percent are not implementing hybrid working at all.
But with jobs that offer hybrid working and flexible hours on the rise, and the government being urged to change the law so large companies make all vacancies available on a flexible basis, it would seem that remote and hybrid working is here to stay.