As the way we work continues to evolve, organizations are finding innovative ways to keep up while staying competitive. Many companies today use flexible and remote work arrangements to attract top talent and create an environment where ideas, creativity and productivity thrive. So how do we future-proof our workforce with remote work solutions?
It makes sense to think that companies should focus on the employees that they have rather than trying to attract new talent. After all, recruiting and training new employees can be expensive. The average onboarding cost for a full-time employee is $4,129, according to research by CareerBuilder. Retaining existing workers will save companies money in turnover costs while freeing up valuable real estate in today’s tight job market.
Employees are key drivers of innovation and success, regardless if their jobs require them to be physically present at an office or not. Research shows that remote workers are happier, more productive and take fewer sick days than their counterparts who work in traditional brick-and-mortar workplaces . On average, remote teams report having 6% higher productivity levels.
Employees’ desire to work remotely is clear, and companies are responding by allowing more workers to telecommute. Recent research from Global Workplace Analytics found that 43% of U.S. employees spend at least some time working remotely .
Seventy-six percent of remote workers report they would like to continue working this way even when their child is born or adopted, according to a study conducted by Regus Plc. Sixty-two percent of full-time remote workers say they’re equally as productive as they are in the office, and 30 percent claim they’re actually more productive working from home.
Even though organizations can reap numerous benefits through flexible and/or distributed work models , companies should be prepared for how both affect engagement, productivity and attrition rates.
When it comes to the benefits of telecommuting or flexible work arrangements, an abundance of research exists to highlight improved efficiencies, increased worker satisfaction, improved employee retention and improved management of remote workers . But what about the other side? What are some factors that companies should consider to future-proof a workforce with remote work solutions? Here are three questions organizations should ask before embracing them.
1) Are Employees Measured By the Same Metrics Whether They’re in the Office or Not?
The effectiveness of connectivity tools is heavily reliant on employees’ comfort with technology. This means managers must ensure they have properly trained all their employees on how to use these technologies. If it not something they are comfortable using regularly, it is likely they will not use the technology in a manner that supports their organization’s needs.
If employees are more comfortable working from home, can they still get the job done? Are you certain that the time and money spent on training them on this technology was worth it? The answer to these questions depends heavily on what metrics your company uses to measure work performance. For example, if your organization relies heavily on face-to-face collaboration between coworkers or customer interaction , then remote workers may not be able to perform at the same level as their traditional counterparts. Even with video conferencing and online collaboration tools like Slack, face-to-face contact and interpersonal interaction cannot be replicated by technology. This means that remote workers may need additional training on how to effectively communicate their ideas without the use of this technology.
If remote workers are unable to meet your organization’s productivity expectations, consider allowing them to work from home just one or two days a week rather than full-time. This will allow you to assess whether they are getting the job done while allowing them to have greater access to collaboration tools when needed. If after these few days, it turns out that working remotely is not for them, then consider allowing more employees to transition into this type of arrangement once their training has been completed successfully.
2) Are You Fostering Communication and Collaboration between Remote Workers?
When employees can’t see each other face-to-face, regular communication and collaboration among team members becomes even more important. Are your remote employees using the tools available to them on a regular basis?
As mentioned above, telecommunication tools like Slack can be extremely helpful in communication among remote teams . However, people are still social creatures and want to maintain relationships with their colleagues even if they don’t work closely together. Managers should ensure that communication platforms designed for collaboration among traditional co-located employees are also made available to workers who are not in the office. For example, Microsoft Teams is designed as an out-of-office communication tool but it allows you to easily collaborate with coworkers or other departments within your organization that may be located elsewhere. Similar web-based communication tools exist for all major workplace solutions. Ensuring these types of communication systems exist for your remote employees will help foster collaboration and communication among team members regardless of their location. It will definitely future-proof your workforce with remote work solutions.
3) Do Your Employees Have the Same Access to Resources Regardless of Where They Are Located?
Remote workers generally need access to a computer, internet connection and other various technologies in order to do their jobs . If your organization requires technological tools in order for an employee to be successful, but they cannot access these tools from home , you may need a different type of remote work solution. For example, if you require productivity software like Microsoft Word or Excel, then each employee is required to have the necessary programs installed on their computers at all times. This is especially true if your company uses any type of cloud-based platform; most modern workplace solutions are available which can help you future-proof your organization. However, if your remote employees do not have the same access to these programs as their co-located counterparts, then they may be unable to perform at the same level independently. For example, many employees work with sensitive customer data and must use software which encrypts this information in order to access it remotely. This is especially true when network security is a concern or in circumstances where third parties are involved with the development of new products and services .
4) Does Your Organization Have Access to Technology That Can Facilitate Remote Work?
As mentioned above, using technology like Slack can make communication easier among remote teams . But what about when an employee needs access to additional technological tools that don’t exist on all devices? For example, if your organization uses a cloud-based platform like Microsoft Office 365 , then each employee has the same access to productivity software regardless of their location. However, what about when an employee needs access to other types of software which may not be available on every device ?
One solution is to provide remote workers with physical devices (e.g., laptops and tablets) that can make it easier for them to use these types of tools . You will want to ensure that whatever devices you give employees are secure and allow for proper management and maintenance through your security policies . Additionally, getting approval from IT before administering any new technology to employees across the board will help streamline the process and ensure that all remote workers have equal access. As previously mentioned, technology can be used to help employees communicate and collaborate with each other regardless of their location. But it also allows them to access the same tools as traditional co-located workers . If your organization’s remote workers do not have equal access to these technologies , then they will likely be unable to perform at the same level as their co-located counterparts.
5) Do You Need Access to Employees’ Location in Order for Them to Be Successful?
One reason why some employers decide against including remote work options in their talent acquisition strategy is because they need access to an employee’s location or physical presence. For example, companies that deal directly with customers often require all personnel who interact with clients face-to-face (e.g., call center and in-person sales employees) to work in the same location . Other companies might require their IT support staff be onsite in the event that a computer or network malfunctions. In these types of situations, using a traditional co-located workforce may be beneficial to your organization because you can ensure that each employee is where they need to be at all times. However, if you have control over when an employee can work from home , then policy changes may help future-proof your talent acquisition strategy so you are prepared for any remote work requirements tomorrow’s workforce might have. If your organization requires physical access to its employees or it depends on certain skillsets being present in order for them to perform successfully, you will want to review your current talent acquisition strategy to ensure that you are prepared for a remote workforce.
6) Do You Have the Necessary Tools and Policies in Place to Support a Remote Workforce?
If your organization’s policy on work-from-home allows, then you will also want to determine whether or not you have the necessary tools needed for employees to be successful regardless of their location .
Does your IT team use unified communications (i.e., Slack )? What about cloud-based applications like Google Apps ? If your organization doesn’t currently use these types of technologies , then you may want to consider initiating pilot programs or new project initiatives which can test them out and see if they would improve productivity among remote workers. Additionally, if the answer is “Yes” to any of the following questions, then your organization should begin considering changes to your talent acquisition strategy: Do employees work remotely to build community relationships with clients? Does it require employees have access to complex software solutions not available on every device? Will you hire for positions with skillsets that are not needed or use regularly? If so, does your talent acquisition strategy account for seasonal hires?
The answers to these types of questions will help inform which changes you need to make in order for remote workers to be successful. It can future-proof your workforce with remote work solutions.
7) Does Your Talent Acquisition Strategy Support Remote Work Options Today?
Having an effective talent acquisition strategy is critical if your organization plans on actively hiring remote employees . You want prospective candidates who are interested in working from home—and who are also qualified to perform their role—to understand your organization’s remote work policy and practices.
If you do not have specific processes in place for hiring remote workers , then you should begin creating them now. Your talent acquisition strategy needs to clearly indicate how, when, where, and who can be hired as a remote worker . Also, you want to ensure that all prospective employees know ahead of time what type of equipment they need (e.g., computer/laptop ), how much access they will have to company offices (if any), and if there will be training opportunities available to learn about internal processes before starting the job.
As technology continues to advance, so too will the way people work. Our people should be aware on how to future-proof the workforce with remote work solutions. While many organizations are still figuring out how to best use cloud-based software, some are already preparing for tomorrow’s workforce by offering remote work options. If your organization wants to future-proof its talent acquisition strategy, start with these three questions: How do I provide onsite training? What types of skills will be needed in the future that we aren’t hiring for today? Can remote workers perform various tasks across different locations? If you can answer these questions, then your organization is well on its way to developing a more effective talent acquisition strategy.