Remote work is one of the most revolutionary recent practices emerging in business. For companies and employees, the benefits are clear. Remote employees are less expensive for companies for many, many reasons, not just the obvious ones like not having to pay for a workspace. Remote employees allow for diversity in talent and scope of employees and allow a company to grow without having to spend on placement costs.
Employees also benefit in a number of ways (like working in the comfort of your home, for starters) and these relationships have resulted in less time (traffic, etc.), more production (comfortable employees are happy employees), and less employee turnover, given the true win-win nature of remote employment.
Win-Win Situation for All
A recent workplace study determined that more than 79% of workers would like to work from home, at least part-time, and companies are starting to play ball, given data on this fairly recent surge in remote employment.
Not only does remote work tend to result in happy employees (which results in increased productivity, reduced turnover, flexibility) but it also has some secondary benefits that may have not been planned, but are certainly positives for all parties involved.
For example, remote employees are far less expensive for companies and they allow for more flexibility in the hiring process. Moreover, having a partner when hiring remotely who takes on the burden of all the local legal requirements can be a great addition to a company. Rather than having to look for candidates only within a certain region, employers can cast a wide net and catch truly exemplary talent that’s fit for the role. In addition, by cutting out commute for your employees, your company appears more eco-friendly and environmentally conscious.
It’s important to consider that hiring practices today are far more nuanced than years ago. Today, companies have to consider social responsibility, eco-friendly practices, and most importantly diversity. Lack of diversity can severely hurt a company’s reputation, and remote employee hiring processes aren’t exempt from diversity initiatives. Since you’re often hiring without a face to face interaction, it’s even more essential to think about unconscious biases that prevail just from reading a name on a resume or an educational background. Implementing a remote employee diversity initiative is a great idea to ensure proper hiring steps are met.
Building a Foundation for Remote Success
As with any industrial revolution, new practices and policies must be tried and tested to keep everything legal, and below are a few tips to keep the telecommute-ball rolling while taking care of all legal employee/employer issues.
Stay vocal with your employees about hours. Without everyday contact, it’s easy and human to want to milk the clock a little bit. Detailing rules regarding things like overtime and checking in with your remote employees regarding weekly workloads is a good practice to avoid paying someone 20 hours of overtime with no knowledge of them being overworked as they are at home.
Discrimination can also be a challenge as some remote employees will enjoy being “out of sight, out of mind,” while others may feel mistreated if contact is lacking. Ensuring remote employees are receiving the same support and opportunities for advancement as in-office workers is key to making sure none of your remote employees is feeling forgotten or mistreated.
Thinking about best communication practices is important. For example, if you have an office slack thread that your company uses to plan happy hours and company events, it might be considerate to remove remote employees from that chat and include only office employees so they’re not bombarded with message irrelevant to them.
Keeping in the spirit of inclusive, however, it’s a good idea to invite employees to participate if they can. For example, if you’re having a company holiday sweater day, invite the remote employees to wear holiday sweaters as well and show them off on video calls.
Sizing Up Remote Job Candidates
Protecting yourself against the legalities that loom with remote employees is important, but hiring the right people is even more important.
Finding someone with remote work history is a great start, but as this is a fairly new trend, not all valid candidates will check this box. Ensuring candidates are true self-starters is important. Any sort of entrepreneurial endeavours on a resume should be taken as a positive for a potential remote employee.
Written communication is more frequent in remote work as well, so finding potential employees who over-communicate during the hiring process should also be viewed positively. Ultimately, communication is up there with productivity, as far as importance to success in any workplace, not just a remote one.
Keep Best Practices in Mind
As the telecommute trend continues and business analytics continue to demonstrate that remote employment is beneficial to all parties involved, it’s good practice to keep tabs on this phenomenon and which trends are successful and which are detrimental to businesses.
It’s rare that any singular “big move” a company makes is truly beneficial to all parties involved, but given the productivity increases, eco-friendly nature, happier employees and statistically proven financial benefits, it would behoove the business world to have more folks working from a place they feel most comfortable.
Andrew Deen has been a consultant for startups in almost every industry from retail to medical devices and everything in between. He is currently writing a book about scaling up business and his experience implementing lean methodology.