Here you have the third installment of the article ‘Keys to successfully implement teleworking in the company’, (see chapter 1 and chapter 2). Now, I am going to address some of the economic-financial aspects that you need to know to implement a good telework model.

In many companies, the implementation of teleworking is controlled by the HR or Information Systems departments. This causes them to focus on organizational, regulatory, productivity management and technology-related issues. But sometimes they forget that one of the objectives we seek when implementing a remote work model is profitability. It may not be the most important, but it is very important.

If your company has decided to implement a corporate remote work model, you should not forget the five key economic aspects that you should take into account:

First.- Anticipate, make a budget!

Normally, the implementation of telework brings savings for the company. In fact, according to a Gartner study, for 49% of companies cost savings is the most important benefit of incorporating more remote work. Gone are the days when these types of practices were conceived only as tools to improve the work-life balance of workers. Now, many companies focus on issues related to business efficiency, such as the aforementioned savings or productivity improvement (which appears in second place in the same study).

But to achieve cost savings, certain investments must be made, mainly focused on three different areas.

  • The remote workstation. As we will see in the next section.
  • The ‘on-site’ workplace. In the third section we will see how to face the restructuring of corporate workspaces.
  • Training the new remote workforce. You must not forget that the new scenario will require new skills from your managers (related to remote team management) and your employees (to improve their productivity and also to adapt to the new scenario).

For all this, we insist, once again, on the need for the process of implementing a remote work model to have careful planning. In the economic sphere, this planning involves building a budget that takes into account both the investments necessary for the new system to be implemented with full guarantees for increased productivity. But also the expected savings in the short, medium and long term. And it is important that this exercise is carried out prior to its implementation, because it should help you to make a decision with all the elements on the table.

Second.- Define what you are going to do with the spaces that you are not going to use.

For most companies, the implementation of a remote work model represents the opportunity to rethink infrastructure policies. In the new reality, it does not make much sense to maintain a physical job for each employee, for the simple reason that many of those employees will not fill it. Or at least they will not do it every day of the year. Once the corresponding study has been carried out, you will be able to amortize a part of the ‘surplus’ square meters by terminating the contracts, if the infrastructure is for rent -and dispose of a liability-, or put them on the real estate market, if it is owned -and turn a liability into an asset. I invite you to do this exercise, if only on a theoretical level. You will be surprised at the amount of money that your company had invested in values ​​far from improving productivity. But for the exercise to work you must take into account two important conditions:

  • The job model must change. The worker conceives his desk or cubicle almost as his own space. In this way you can see how everyone tries to ‘customize’ it so that it is recognizable. It is common to see family photos, memories, fetishes associated with their tastes and hobbies … It is about making them ‘recognizable’. But in the new reality things are not going like this. The workspaces must be shared, in order to accommodate more workers in the same space. That’s not bad, as long as it’s accompanied by a change in everyone’s mindset, something that requires planning and communication.
  • Workspaces must change. It is not only about getting rid of excess square meters. Those who remain must be transformed. The new offices must serve to cover the needs of remote workers, for a new purpose. In this way, you will have to rethink those spaces so that they promote physical networking (a necessary complement to digital).

I firmly believe that the introduction of corporate telework will mean a revolution in the conception of corporate headquarters. Against what might seem at first glance (reduction of space, depersonalization of the workplace, etc.) I am convinced that we are going to see how they tend to ‘humanize’ and be more instruments to promote collaborative work than ‘flag ships’ of the company brand status.

Third.- Quantify how much you are going to invest in the new job.

One of the characteristics of an incipient teleworking model is that the devices are provided by the worker himself. It is what is known as BYOD, an acronym for ‘Bring your own device’. This is a scenario that is going to undergo accelerated change, driven by three factors inherent to the maturity of a system.

  • The security of your systems. As discussed in another chapter, teleworking increases cyber-risks, especially if access occurs through shared devices.
  • Regulation. In Spain, for example, the new telework regulation requires the company to take care of all associated expenses.
  • Ergonomics. Prolonged access to desktop display screens requires minimal fixtures and fittings. Otherwise, we will go back several decades in the advances in safety and health at work.

Do not forget to count these items in the budget that we alluded to in the first section. Even for this you can take into account some optimization strategies. Thus, for example, a part of the furniture and devices that are going to save with the reduction of spaces, you can use them to supply teleworkers. It is also important to consider the possible tax impact on the worker.

Fourth.- Value what the worker earns with teleworking.

It is not about deceiving anyone, it is rather about putting in value the advantages that the new model brings to the worker. Thus, it is positive that the worker perceives that part of the savings that the company will have with the implementation of the model, reverts to the improvement of their working conditions remotely. The provision of devices or the financing of a part of the fixed costs necessary for teleworking or investment in education and training must be quantified and communicated to the worker. This must know what the company saves, but also what it invests to maintain its level of productivity and ergonomics in the new model.

I think you should do an exercise in transparency, to enhance that feeling of win-win that fosters commitment and motivation of the staff.

Fifth.- Reflect on the environmental and social contribution.

Most companies have been working for a long time to implement sustainable development goals (SDGs) in the scope of their corporate social responsibility policies. Well, the implementation of a telework model contributes very decisively to this sustainable development. It is a commitment to the workers, but also to the rest of the interest groups and to the environment. So far we have measured the carbon footprint in terms of its reduction by saving paper and reducing travel for meetings, and many companies publish proud statistics on this in their sustainability reports. Well, when your company reduces the flow of its workers to the office by, say, 60%, it is decisively contributing to improving the environment of the city, due to the reduction of trips that it entails. If the majority of companies do it, the improvement is exponential, and the cost savings associated with traffic, pollution control, etc., too.

In any case, in the contribution of digitization to the environment there are also shadows. Cloud storage requires ‘data centers’ all over the world, which consume enormous amounts of energy, mainly for cooling and maintenance. The estimate of the International Energy Agency is that they consume an amount equivalent to 75% of the energy consumed in an industrialized country like Spain every hour.

Finally, we cannot forget that the reduction of trips is also a determining factor for the reduction of occupational accidents, which in turn causes a significant cost for companies, workers and for society. Let us not forget that mortality in occupational traffic accidents already accounts for 45% of mortality due to occupational accidents in Spain, according to Asepeyo.