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Can Remote Workers Benefit Your Business?

In last week’s blog, we talked about what to look for when hiring remote workers. (If you missed it, click here to read). But what if you’re not sure if remote workers are a good idea for your business? Or, you think you’d like to pursue it, but don’t know how to get started? This week, we’re going to backtrack a little and provide some guidance as to whether or not it’s a good idea for your company.

The Benefits of a Remote Workforce:

First, let’s talk about some of the benefits to having remote workers.

  • Real Estate: If employees are working remotely, even part of the time, that is less real estate space you need. A tangible financial benefit as office space costs continue to climb.

  • Employee Satisfaction: Studies have shown that remote employees feel greater job satisfaction and have higher rates of retention. A study from TINYpulse in 2016 says remote employees report higher levels of engagement, job satisfaction, and felt they were more productive. Higher retention rates can mean less recruiting costs.

  • It’s Green: Having remote employees many times means having a cloud network setup. This can lead to less paper printout and waste. Less office space means less use of electricity, heating, and cooling. Another positive effect on the environment: no commute equals reduced carbon emissions.

Determine Which Jobs Can Be Performed Remotely:

Let’s start with what doesn’t work…more than likely retail jobs, any job that requires physical contact with physical goods, and certain service industry jobs that require a public presence will not lend themselves to off-site employees. Also, any job that needs a high level of data security may want to be handled in house.

Having said that, this leaves a lot open: data entry, research, computer programming, online research, and preparing presentations and proposals are just a few of the areas that don’t necessarily need to be performed in a traditional office setting.

Then Test, Evaluate, and Decide:

Like most things in business, you need to test and evaluate before you decide to roll out. Once particular jobs are identified as a good fit for being handled remotely, look at which of your employees would make good candidates as a remote worker. (Again, take a look at our recent blog for some tips). Start with 1-3 days per week. This eases the transition for both the worker and those people who are still working from the office to get used to the arrangement. There will be time to tweak expectations and hone the communication skills between managers, employees, and colleagues. After a predetermined amount of time, honestly evaluate the experience. As a manager, look at productivity, quality of work, and morale. As an employee, honestly review your experience working remotely. If it seems there is an overall benefit to your organization, you can than either choose more employees to take part, or have that employee increase the days they are working remotely. And again, constantly evaluate along the way to get a true picture of the pros and cons of the arrangement.

At some point, you may determine that certain jobs don’t require an office presence at all. Imagine the talent you will be able to attract to your organization if you are not limited to those within a certain geographical location.

Not all jobs and not all employees are well suited to working remotely. However, in a constantly changing business environment remote employees are definitely an option to consider. If this is an option your business decides to take part in, stay tuned for Part 3 of this series: “How to Effectively Manage Remote Employees”.

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