Between 2005 to 2017, there was a 159% increase in the remote workforce. In February 2020, that number was at 4.7 million, or 3.4% of the population and the number keeps rising daily.
Whether you like it or not, the remote employee is here to stay. With the arrival of Covid-19, companies across the globe were suddenly forced to have their employees work remotely whenever possible. We are now almost 2 years in, and a recent survey by Gartner shows that a whopping 70% of workers want to continue working remotely even after the pandemic ends.
Working outside of the company’s main location and having a choice of work environment is now a key factor for many job seekers when evaluating new career opportunities.
In response to that surge of top talent mandating where they want to work, organizations are now evaluating the pros and cons of offering the option of remote work on an on-going basis.
The differences in the perception of whether employees can produce just as much when working remotely as opposed to in-house not only varies within different industries, but often companies within the same industry have strong, differing views on productively levels for remote workers.
Did you know that Twitter and Facebook have fully embraced remote work, while Goldman Sachs CEO refers to remote work as an ‘aberration’? He feels strongly that employees must physically be in the same space to create the synergy necessary for real-time interaction and collaboration of ideas.
The dissimilar opinions of top management related to working from home has made it difficult to come up with a conclusion regarding the ‘right’ answer.
Here are some pros and cons that might help you best determine if it makes sense to offer remote options for the foreseeable future.
Dramatically Larger Candidate Pool!
Being able to choose candidates from a nationwide pool of applicants as opposed to being geographically confined to a select group of local candidates is the single biggest factor in the current war for talent. Companies can be based in smaller towns, where the cost of doing business is substantially less than places like Washington DC or San Francisco. Being able to compete for candidates on a nationwide basis is a game changer for many companies.
In addition, since so many candidates ONLY want to consider roles that are fully remote, smaller companies that may have less to offer in terms of compensation and career path can effectively compete for top talent that are no longer considering some of their larger competitors that may not be open to virtual hires.
Zero Commute Time
Working remotely allows you to save a tremendous amount of time that you would otherwise spend in long commutes to and from the office.
Most workers say that they find working from home convenient because it’s less tiring and allows them to dedicate more time to their families. Being able to throw in a load of laundry or start dinner in between calls can make the difference between a relaxing evening and one spent doing a million different things that can’t be accomplished when someone is away from home all day.
Not to mention the fact that just about anything that an employee would choose to do with the extra time gained in not commuting is more enjoyable than fighting rush hour traffic.
Many companies have been pleasantly surprised to see study after study showing how employees are actually MORE productive in a remote setting. The time saved due to not traveling and other office distractions has proven to be quite beneficial for the bulk of employees that have transitioned to remote work.
Employees can now attend work calls and meetings from anywhere as long as they have a strong internet connection and a computer. You can now even work around your travel plans or commuting schedules.
Savings on Car Repairs and Dry Cleaning
Not having to drive to work every day saves substantial money on gas & car repairs, not to mention toll and parking fees. In addition, savings on dry cleaning bills add up since they are not going into the office 5 days a week.
Remote work can never replace real-life collaborations. In-person communication allows you to build strong workplace connections.
Team leads or managers get to know their employees well through informal interactions within the workplace, and they don’t get this opportunity to know an employee’s personality or working pattern while they’re working from home. Think about it, when everyone goes to the same place 5 days a week, one tends to get to know others quite intimately versus the remote situation. You get a sense of the habits of your coworkers, their likes/dislikes and idiosyncrasies. A bond is formed and conversations are fluid. This is clearly the biggest downfall in remote work.
To balance the loss of informal interactions, it is important to routinely schedule virtual meetings during the week to replace live interactions with team members. If frequent formal meetings are too time consuming, regular check-in calls should be utilized instead.
The good news in having sales reps that were formally road warriors now conducting most of their business on-line, is that most customers are reporting that they would much rather interact with vendors on-line and virtually as opposed to in person, so both sides are aligned.
With that said, there will always be a few customers that clearly prefer live interaction, so it is extremely important to consistently query your customers to see which type of interaction they prefer.
Solely communicating with your clients on-line won’t allow you to foster strong and loyal customer relationships, so it is important to integrate video calls into the mix whenever possible. While emailing alone is not a replacement for live meetings, many professionals have found that conducting video calls can indeed build working relationships that are every bit as strong as the ones that have been built in the past based on live meetings.
There is no question that having remote workers takes away some of the control that management has over their workforce. There have even been stories of people working 2, even 3 remote jobs simultaneously.
The easiest way to combat those concerns is to simply ‘inspect what you expect’. Regardless of the environment that your employees work, you will always want to make it a practice and integrate accountability into your company culture to ensure that every single employee is responsible for completing their work on time, with satisfactory results. This can be accomplished with setting clear, proper expectations; weekly check-in calls and frequent electronic communication.
By managing a remote work force, leadership should implement a check and balance system to ensure that employees are held accountable and any discrepancies or shortcomings are addressed as swiftly as possible.
Hiring for Remote Roles
There is no question that when hiring for roles that are remotely based, it is important to test for factors that may not have been part of your screening process pre-Covid. You will want to ensure that your new hires that are going to be working remotely are self-governed and are able to stay on task when not being directly monitored. There are many talented professionals who have found that they are too easily distracted outside of a structured workplace environment, and conversely many have been pleasantly surprised at the amount of work that they can achieve in a shortened amount of time by taking out commute times and daily distractions from coworkers. It is essential to identify which skill sets you want to screen for when hiring employees that will be virtually based.
For your critical fill hiring needs, consider partnering up with International Search Consultants. We are an elite team of highly experienced, successful executive recruiters who can help identify top-tier professionals that are the perfect fit for your organization.
ISC has been a leader in providing top talent to our clients since 1999, and we are the #1 most recommended recruiting agency in the US based on the number of Client recommendations on LinkedIn.
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Ann Zaslow-Rethaber is President of International Search Consultants. You may reach Ann at 888-866-7276 or .
Kelly Gillum is a Senior Recruiter with International Search Consultants and can be reached at or direct dial at 877-598-0830.