Why flexible working and remote teams get better results

Recruitment and retaining staff are the biggest headaches for SMEs. Kirsty Hulse says the solution is to use freelancers

For decades, the world of work was determined by a person’s ability to physically be in a place at a certain time. For the average office worker, they had to be able to access their documents, first on paper, then later on servers.

However, the shift to using laptops with documents saved on the cloud, accessible everywhere, has made it so that we now no longer need to be always at work to get work done. While spending time together is always invaluable in any team, this no longer needs to be eight hours a day five days a week, given the ease of digital communication and collaboration.

This shift, both technological and ideological, is transforming the modern workplace. Flexible working is becoming increasing commonplace and the desire to work remotely and achieve a more stable work/life balance is creeping in to all of our collective conscious.

The potential benefits to employees of being able to manage their own time seems obvious: increased professional autonomy, the ability to book a doctor’s appointment when necessary, do the school run, get a gym class in and reinvest time previously spent commuting in to actually doing work.

Though, the potential benefits from the business owner’s point of view often go undiscussed.

Traditional businesses, especially the larger ones, can be very rigid in their structures. Most companies, especially large businesses, have established processes they need to adhere to. The hierarchical structure of companies can create a chain of command than can make being agile, and allowing all of their team to work quickly and efficiently, nigh on impossible. We create layers of structure, process and sign off that can stifle genuine innovation and creativity. The creation of a flat structure, allows each employee to take full responsibility for the work and output, making them more creative and productive in the long run.

It’s hard to recruit good staff and even harder to retain them

Ask any business, and most of them will cite recruitment and retention as one of their biggest challenges and, consequently, one of their biggest costs. The best staff members get headhunted and leave with relative frequency, making delivering consistent quality incredibly difficult. Huge amounts of time and energy are spent on recruitment as a result. Allowing employees to work from home, or scaling a business using freelance resource, this becomes much less problematic.

Good-quality freelancers are easy to find and keep

An experienced freelancer is often very equipped with a wealth of knowledge of their market. Their reputation is what, quite literally, feeds them, so there’s a direct connection to the work they delivery that makes it quality and on time.

A freelancer is for life, not just today

For the most part, once somebody makes the jump in to becoming a freelancer, it’s for life, so as long as you continue to provide work, brief well and pay on time, you will retain that resource for as long as you want them.

Flexibility and family go hand in hand

We live in a day and age where one salary is seldom enough to sustain a family and for those of us with children, “sharenting” provides a perfect solution to the increased demands that working and family life present. Most of my team have children and I am proud that I have a business that facilitates people spending more time with their family, less time commuting and as a result, delivering great work for our clients.

Kirsty Hulse is founder and managing director of ManyMinds, a digital marketing agency which works with freelancers across the world. She is the author of The Future is Freelance