In modern businesses, remote working is becoming more and more common. At RFX, we have several of our own remote workers and we’re certainly not the only ones! According to a 2017 report on the state of remote work, 52% of employees across the globe work remotely at least once per week—not only that, but of those who currently don’t work remotely, 65% would like to do so at least once a month. As such, it may be wise to consider whether your company could benefit from adopting this practice.
Working remotely benefits the business as a whole and individual employees alike. Having fewer workers in an office space saves money on real estate, and employees save on gas and time staying home rather than commuting—it’s better for the environment, too! In addition, that same 2017 report showed that companies that support remote workers not only hire new employees faster, they keep them longer. Going beyond geographical limits can give your company access to a wider pool of candidates, which opens the door to more diversity and top talent across the country (or even the world). Finally, employees who can work remotely reportedly have increased productivity and a better work life balance, even though they are more likely to spend more than 40 hours a week on work tasks.
On the management side of things, it’s important to keep in mind that remote workers have unique needs that those you see in the office on a regular basis may not have. It’s not impossible to cultivate a good company culture that includes remote workers, it just takes different efforts than developing one among in-office employees. You may need to consciously remind yourself to check in with them more often since you won’t pass by them on your way to the water cooler every day. Having remote workers video call into team meetings and conferences is a good way to include them and keep them engaged with their coworkers. In addition, it is likely a good idea to have policies put into place specifically for remote workers that they can use to guide themselves and set expectations.
On the technical side of things, you can use some of the tools you probably already have available to facilitate good communication and information sharing with remote workers. Things like cloud storage allow for secure sharing of documents and ensure that you won’t lose the progress made by remote employees should their time at your company come to an end. Some cloud storage options also have tools for collaboration that enable multiple people to work on a document or project at the same time from different devices, which can be especially useful for teams that are spread out geographically. There are countless email, instant messaging, and video chatting services that can facilitate instant communication regardless of distance—you likely use these in your day-to-day anyways!
One complication comes in trying to decide whether or not to enact a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy. While this can save the company money on purchasing new units and employees can be more comfortable using their personal devices, it can also bring more risks to sensitive data used for business if the device isn’t protected well or the worker uses it irresponsibly in their free time. If you decide to allow remote employees to use their own devices, it would be wise to invest in security software for each device they will use and be sure they are informed about how to use their device in safe ways.
All of this is, of course, just scratching the surface of things to keep in mind when considering if you should begin using remote workers. There are different variables that go into each company’s decision-making process, but it’s certainly worth looking into giving your employees the option to work remotely if they would like to do so. If you would like assistance with determining the best fit for your business regarding remote workers, feel free to contact us. We’re here to help!