Should your staff be coming into the office every day or should they be free to work from home (or from anywhere they like, for that matter)?
Flexible working, remote working and remote teams (or virtual teams) are popular topics at the moment. Companies are reviewing current and future working practices in an effort to increase productivity and maintain a competitive edge.
As a member of a remote-first company (even before the pandemic), and a seasoned remote worker myself, I'll explore the benefits and potential challenges of remote working.
What is remote working?
Firstly, what exactly constitutes remote working?
Fundamentally, a remote team is a group of employees that work outside the traditional office environment, usually from home.
Remote working comes in few different flavours. Some companies take a hybrid approach, with mandatory office days, whereas other businesses are fully-remote, globally distributed with no physical office space at all.
Benefits of remote working
Remote or hybrid working has stuck, even now most of us have the option to return to the office.
Because remote working benefits both employees and employers. Here's why:
1. Better work life balance
The biggest benefit of remote working from an employee perspective is a better worker/life balance. There's no commute, for one, leaving more time for rest and relaxation.
For those remote workers (me being one of them) who are free to live and work where they wish, the opportunity to work and travel is a huge perk too.
Additionally, a lot of remote jobs allow workers to adopt a flexible schedule and the option to work hours when they feel most productive.
2. Increased productivity
According to a study in the Harvard Business Review, remote employees complete almost a whole day's extra work per week compared to their colleagues in the office.
Whether it's more time in bed, fewer distractions, the flexibility to work during their most productive times of the day (or night), or the freedom to choose inspiring work surroundings, evidence suggests that allowing remote working leads to greater productivity from team members.
3. Improved employee retention
According to Owl Labs, 74% of workers say that having the option to work remotely would make them less likely to leave a company.
With the market for top talent being forever competitive, this is something for employers to consider seriously as part of their “employee benefits.”
In light of recent events, being flexible and adding a remote work option is an effective way to improve the overall employee experience.
4. Access to global talent
With remote working practices, hiring new team members no longer needs to be limited by physical location, you can fish in the global talent pool, with access to a vast pool of remote workers.
If this is something you’re considering, you may want to consider using an employer of record to more easily hire across state or national borders.
5. Greater diversity of candidates
As remote working opens your candidate pool to regions far beyond your offices, the diversity of candidates you'll have applying to roles will increase too.
For example, when insurance broker Allstate switched to remote working, they saw a 30% increase in diverse candidates applying for roles.
I've actually witnessed this in a previous company when we switched up our remote working policy to accommodate a neurodiverse candidate who disliked offices (they were a top performer).
6. Save money on office space
While workers are saving money through less or no commuting, there’s also the opportunity for businesses to save costs by renting less office space. According to a survey by KPMG, 68% large companies are planning on downsizing their office footprint.
Resources to help with remote working
The benefits of remote working—increased employee engagement, productivity, retention, diversity, more time in bed—are there to be had.
But, as we all know, it does require a bit of reconfiguration. To make a success of it, you have to put in place the right tools and processes.
Organizations with a remote workforce will need to equip their team members with the right tools, processes, and expectations.
Some resources to help you calibrate your business for a remote or hybrid future:
- 27 best practices managing remote teams
- Five challenges of managing remote employees and how to overcome them
- The best employee communication software
- Professional employer organization vs employer of record: which is right for you?
- 6 hard-learned lessons for adapting to a hybrid working model
- Training Remote Workers: Strategies For Success In The Digital Age
- How to hire remote employees and tap into global talent
- 10 best remote working software for distributed teams
- Office Space Management: 5 Steps To Maximize Your Office Potential
What's your experience working with (or as part of) a remote team? Are there any advantage or or disadvantages of remote work that I’ve not mentioned here?
List of Related Tools: Global Payroll Solutions for Distributed Teams