Charities and staff can find savings with the right hybrid working tools. We explain how you can use your budget wisely
A blown budget doesn’t have to be the focus of your transformation to hybrid working. Earlier in our Hybrid Working series, we explored policies and digital tools for communication, collaboration, and productivity.
All of these are essential in the new working environment, but many can be costly. Turning to the cost of implementation and equipment you’ll need, we run through some pro tips to save on the cost of digital, tech, and services.
Be practical about your office hardware. Acknowledge that fewer people will be in meeting rooms and office. Consider repurposing items for homeworking and redistributing them to save on the cost of new tech. There may be unused printers, monitors, mobile phones, landlines, or scanners. Make sure your hardware is functional before sending it off to staff.
Bundled software offers more savings than individual deals. The Charity Digital Exchange has plans at discounted prices. Zoom, Microsoft Office, and cybersecurity deals offer savings for charities with one or more users.
Low-cost options ease the transition to hybrid working. Free software is available for all types of charity work. For operations, Google Suite offers a zero-cost workspace for charities. The package includes cloud storage, domain email addresses, videoconferencing, and security controls. Google also runs the Google Ad Grants programme. Successful charities are gifted $10,000 (£7,300 approx) for in-kind advertising.
Charities can also look into free project management software, editing and graphic tools, and low-cost finance platforms. Remember, use free trials before committing to long-term contracts – test the water before you dive in.
Transitioning away from on-premise servers to cloud-based storage offers savings. Traditional servers require dedicated servicing and take up office space, which comes at a cost. Comparatively, cloud-based infrastructure incurs just the subscription fee. Charities can then pick and choose other cloud-based features, based on need rather than those built into servers.
Hybrid working means charity staff rely on mobile phones and other devices. To mitigate infrastructure costs, choose a network provider that supports hybrid working. O2’s package has features that are attractive.
For businesses and charities, they offer ‘managed services’ like monitoring cybersecurity. O2 also has a partnership with Samsung. Together, they offer devices and networks for most hybrid working arrangements.
For charities, this might include purchasing mobile phone plans for staff. Business mobile phone contracts tend to be more cost-effective than individual ones. BytesDigital notes the advantages of business contracts. They include pooling data, better customer service, and discounted handsets.
One of the most significant cost savings for charities is reduced rent when implementing hybrid working. For charity leaders, rethinking the office space is an opportunity to repurpose for hybrid working meetings and collaboration. It’s not just rent you’re saving on. The ancillary costs that come with an office are also reduced, including utilities, cleaning, and supplies.
Charities have also taken drastic measures when considering how much space they need. In a stunning property sale, Deafblind UK did away with its large, office-based headquarters in favour of hybrid working. They explained the move:
“The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that we do not need large premises, as staff are able to work from home and be just as productive, as the last few months have proved.”
Facing recession and depressed income, the sale reflects a renewed focus for the charity: “The sale of our HQ building will mitigate our immediate losses and help offset less income in the next two to three years. The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown up many more needs for our members and reinforced that more people need support.”
In one bold, strategic move, Deafblind UK confirmed the shift to hybrid working and shored up income for the future.
While the cost of operations is lower with the transition to hybrid working, staff expenses are also lower. Charities can see savings in terms of travel and food. Hitachi’s remote working study finds that small businesses typically saw savings of around £1,225 for travel and £712 on food and drink per month. It’s reasonable to extend those findings to small charities with employees working from home.
To get control of all hybrid working spends and invoicing, finance teams need an approval system with oversight. Financial management platforms give the control they need to rein in expenses.
Xero has budgeting functions to support cost-saving plans. Within the management section, administrators can create simple tallies of overheads and income. These templates can be saved down and compared year on year, so teams can assess spending versus income. Other platforms including Zoho and QuickBooks also offer simple budget forecasting tools.