Nearly one year after mandatory stay-at-home orders went into effect and employers nationwide quickly transitioned to remote work – the verdict is in: remote work is here to stay.
A recent PwC remote work survey, conducted across a variety of industries and positions, found that, from the perspectives of both employers and employees, remote work has been a success. New routines have been established, and employees who had never regularly worked from home found that not only was it possible, but, in many cases, preferable.
Moving forward, supporting remote work will be increasingly common among organizations of all sizes. Employers wanting to remain competitive in the changing landscape of the labor market should start planning now in order to keep up. And if you really need a reason to be convinced, consider that Reset Work recently reported that the high retention rates many companies are seeing right now won’t hold post-pandemic. As a sense of normalcy and security returns, employees who have been experiencing burnout in their current jobs will be eager to move on.
Of course, supporting remote workers requires that the work can be done fully remote. This is not true for every industry, position, or experience level.
A McKinsey analysis determined that the sectors with the highest potential for remote work are finance, management, professional services, and information. And the PwC survey found that workers with the least amount of professional experience (0-5 years) are more likely to want to be in the office more often.
Each organization will need to determine which positions, if any, are best suited to remote work. (For occupations that require an on-site physical presence some of the time, but not all, a hybrid work model will become the standard. That’s another topic.)
All that being said, employers who had never considered hiring remote in the past are now open to the idea. Over the past year we’ve worked with clients across a variety of industries hiring remote for the first time for customer service, data entry, finance, professional, and legal support positions.
Employer Benefits of Remote Work
Consider the following employer benefits of remote work:
- Attractive to employees. More employees than ever before are looking for fully remote work. Many have established successful work-from-home routines. An optimal work-life balance is especially important for women, who tend to bear more caregiving responsibilities.
- Reduces turnover rate. A Stanford University report found that employees who work from home not only have 50 percent less turnover, but are also 17 percent more productive.
- Provides access to a broader talent pool. By expanding your talent sourcing you’ll increase your likelihood of quickly identifying great candidates for your open position. This is especially beneficial for positions require a specific or niche skillset.
- Helps increase diversity. There’s no question that diverse teams are more productive and more engaged. Hiring remote increases the likelihood of finding diverse talent that can bring new perspectives to your organization.
- Provides access to more favorable market wages. Hiring outside of your geographical area can allow you to offer a competitive salary, without going over your ideal rate in order to compete. This is especially beneficial to employers based in major metro areas like Sacramento.
- Can lead to significant cost savings. Cloud communications provider Ooma reports that businesses save an average of $11,000 annually for each remote employee. Employing remote staff can also mean that your real estate needs are reduced over time.
Supporting remote work is a win-win for employers and employees. Organizations that prioritize supporting the changing needs of employees will be rewarded with a happier, more dedicated workforce.
Of course, supporting a successful remote workforce must be planned for and intentionally supported. While some companies didn’t have much work to do to transition to a remote workplace, many had to quickly adopt new processes and technologies and engage employees in a completely new way. For employers in that second group, now is the right time to start planning long-term for the remote future.
Thanks to the demand created by a nearly overnight shift to work-from-home, there is no lack of new business solutions in this arena. Online tools for communication and collaboration have made it easier than ever to ensure a connected and productive remote workforce.
Employer Considerations for Supporting Remote Work
Here are some considerations for employers planning to support remote work:
- Re-evaluate existing technology providers and platforms. Not every platform is right for every company. Having technologies that work for your organization is critical. With new solutions being introduced regularly it’s a good idea to evaluate what you use on an ongoing basis.
- Build out a robust remote employee onboarding program. We know how important new hire onboarding is to near-term retention and long-term success. An engaging remote onboarding program needs to be intentional, well-structured and interactive. As a starting point, SHRM shared a great overview of remote onboarding considerations last April.
- Shift to a remote-first company culture. Having a culture that can be shared with all employees regardless of location will be meaningful not only for remote employees, but also for those in a hybrid role. For a primer on what a remote-first company culture looks like check out this blog post by Timely: What makes a remote-first company culture?
- Invest in a long-term management training and development program. Remote employee management will be (and still is) new for many managers. It requires a different approach than managing a local team. Support your teams by investing in their success with dedicated training and development.
- Update or introduce an official remote work policy. National Law Review explains why having a remote work policy in place is important: “Whether an employer anticipates all or some of its employees will work remotely on a temporary or more permanent basis, a remote work policy or agreement provides clear guidance to employees on the process, expectations and obligations of a remote work arrangement. A remote work policy or agreement also provides more consistency with handling employees’ requests for a remote work arrangement. Providing remote work arrangements can benefit both employers and employees by allowing for greater flexibility that can lead to higher productivity and overall job satisfaction.”
Finally, it’s important to keep in mind that the future of remote work will not look the same as it does today – it will improve. A better remote work-life balance is coming post-pandemic. In particular, as the isolation associated with stay-at-home lifestyles recedes. The future of remote work is near, and it’s bright!