The COVID-19 pandemic forced businesses to evaluate their workplace policies and business processes in alignment with the social distancing restrictions imposed by their countries.
The concept of ‘working from home’ that previously seemed like sci-fiction to many employees has become a reality. Companies embraced the idea and allowed their in-house employees and contract freelancers to work remotely.
A survey carried out by a reputable research firm found that 20 per cent of the workforce could work remotely three to five days, as effectively and efficiently as possible if they had been working from an office. Remote workers working away from their corporate offices have had a profound impact on urban economics, transportation, and consumer spending, among other things.
What exactly is Remote Work?
The emergence of complete or hybrid work from home models has added to the confusion of remote work. Remote work also called work from home or telecommuting, is a work concept that describes a flexible working arrangement allowing an employee to work from a remote location away from the corporate office. Remote work arrangements can either be temporary, permanent, part or full-time.
Why Does Remote Work Matter?
The pandemic drastically changed the way companies conduct businesses. Regrettably, many companies found it impossible to continue providing products and services to the public under the existing contractual agreements they had with their employees.
With decreased business activities resulting in reduced income, businesses had to find a good solution that was both effective and cost-effective. That solution was bringing remote workers on board.
Business Questions to Determine Whether Your Business can depend on remote workers:
Could your Business Confidently Depend on Remote Workers? It’s is a question that millions of businesses have asked themselves since the advent of the pandemic. It forces businesses to look within their internal processes and determine if they could depend on remote workers.
Here are a couple of questions that you need to ask yourself to determine whether your business can depend on remote workers:
Is my business model suited for a remote work setup?
Here’s the thing: Remote work does not work for every business. Geographically dependent companies such as; a nurse administering injections, physiotherapy sessions, etc., all have limited remote work options.
Can my business adopt a fully remote work model, or do we still need to keep an office?
I advise businesses to take a slow, phased approach when adopting a remote work model. This allows businesses to identify any challenges with the outsourcing company, and if they come across any obstacles, they’ll have ample time to solve them before it’s too late.
Here are a few tips to help you navigate this process:
- Start with small tasks and virtual meetings
- Give your virtual team ample time to understand your products or services
Which of the tasks will be done in-house in a hybrid team, and which will I outsource to remote workers?
Before incorporating any remote in your business, you must first decide which work can be done in-house and those that can be outsourced to remote workers. Do this by examining the level of security clearance a worker requires to access specific tasks, as some tasks might be too sensitive to outsource to remote workers.
Should I hire freelancers or remote employees?
The first step is understanding the difference between the two options, as each option has a bearing on the amount of money you’ll have to spend and the required taxes.
Here are a few facts about each option:
- Hiring independent contractors or freelancers eliminates you from the responsibility of paying social security, medical, federal, and state unemployment taxes under the stipulated contractor guidelines. Once the contractor does your project to your satisfaction, they’re free to leave.
- Hiring employees comes with its complexity. You’ll be responsible for managing and remitting their tax withholding and any other relevant taxes. Unlike freelancers, you have more control over the nature of the work assigned.
Should I Get a Remote Physical office?
You’ll have to determine whether to provide your remote workers with a remote site or allow them to work from home.
Tips on How Businesses Can Adopt Remote Work
Many years ago, it wasn’t possible to contemplate different remote work models as the technology didn’t exist. However, with the emergence of team collaboration applications, working remotely is very much possible. However, with all this information, many organizations are unsure about how to make this transition.
Implement Enterprise-Level Security protocols
Technological advancements in the tech space such as; fast internet speeds, wide-spread WiFi connections, and instant messaging have brought about an increased number of data breaches and hacking cases. You need to deploy enterprise-level security tools to safeguard your data from the primary corporate remote workers while on transit. I recommend the use of VPNs, firewalls, and the latest anti-malware applications.
Review Old Communication Tools
Review your existing communication infrastructure, hardware and software. You need to have the appropriate infrastructure to effectively communicate with your remote workers, regardless of their location. There are many web-based communication applications across different communication mediums such as; video conferencing, real-time document collaboration, and instant messaging platforms.
Provide a Learning and Training Budget
Many employees who want to transition as remote workers for your company may not be familiar with the remote team collaboration tools required to get the job done effectively. Invest in your remote workers’ training to equip them with the necessary skills to navigate these systems.
Set up a Communication Strategy
Managing remote work strategies requires effective communication amongst managers and remote workers. Too many instant messages and video conferences may distract remote workers from delivering on projects. Outline how and when your company managers need to contact remote workers and set comprehensive communication policies to mitigate against miscommunication.
Measure and encourage Employee engagement
Make your remote workers feel involved in the operations of your company. Regularly schedule one-on-one meetings with your remote team to understand better how they feel about the communication policies. The objective is to remove the fear among the remote workers and create a conducive environment where remote workers feel safe being honest and opening up. Focus groups, surveys, and exit interviews are excellent ways of getting valuable feedback about your business and how you can improve it.
Benefits of Working Remotely for Employees
Better work-life balance
Employees can save time spent commuting to the office and spend it catching up with family, friends, hobbies resulting in a better work-life and higher productivity of tasks.
Choose Your Environment
Working remotely allows you to choose where you want to work; at home, on the beach, in the countryside.
As a remote worker, you can be able to offer your services to multiple companies. This provides an opportunity to generate more revenue.
Benefits of Working Remotely for Employers
A study undertaken by Standford University reported that a Chinese travel agency saw a 13% performance increase among its call centre employees when they worked from home. Remote working undoubtedly boosts employee productivity across different industry verticals.
Enables Business Continuity
During the Covid-19 pandemic, countries across the globe imposed movement restrictions that made it impossible for employees to report to their corporate office. Remote workers served as a business continuity measure as many businesses embraced remote working models.
Attract Top Talents
Employers that offer remote working options to employees are seen as more attractive by employees and therefore attract top talent. A study showed that 54% of office workers said that they’d leave their job for one that offered flexible working options.
Working from home reduces carbon emissions from private cars and public transport modes. Therefore, encouraging employees to utilize video conferencing and team management tools to interact with each other from home is an effective way of reducing your company’s carbon footprint on the environment.
Widens your Talent Pool
Employers are no longer restricted to the talent found within their geographical regions. Remote working options enable employers to source talent from anywhere in the world.
Attract Top Talent For Less Money
Employers can attract top talent from anywhere globally and access top talent for much less than what they could have paid for in their own countries. This is because different regions have got varying degrees of cost of living.
Reduction of Overhead Costs
Employers can save on multiple overhead costs; office rent, office utilities, office permits, etc., when they embrace remote working options. For example, the United States Patent Office cut office costs by $38.2 million when it allowed patent examiners to work from home.
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