The Ups and Downs of a Remote Workforce
With the advancement of technology, working remotely (or telework, or telecommuting, or flexible work, or working virtually) has become more and more mainstream. In just about every field, there is room for certain positions to work from home or a remote location with the use of the Internet, video conferencing, Skype, and email. Of course, working remotely has its up and its downs, just like working in an office. Hiring remote workers is a great way to utilize talented people from around the world without the worry of paying huge moving expenses. If you are looking to move more employees to a remote workstation, you’ll want to weigh the good and the bad before you jump in.
The Up Side
Having employees who work remotely certainly has its advantages. You suddenly open up a massive new group of potential employees for your business that may have the exact talents you need. When you’re ready to start hiring employees for remote positions, you want to make sure that you have a solid job description for them, such as what they will be doing exactly, any specific hours that you need them to be working, how many times per day/week you need email updates or video conferencing from them, and so on. Once you have these areas hammered out and ready, you can then start posting job listings on social media sites, such as LinkedIn, and through job posting sites as well, such as Monster.
As a hiring manager, hiring remotely has its advantages. It means that you can suddenly look at candidates that you would have never looked at before. And, you will easily be able to schedule interviews, even if they are across the globe, with different video conferencing and programs like Skype. So not only do you get to see their resumes and their experience, but you still get to talk with them virtually face to face as well. It allows you to still have a formal interview with a potential employee while also being able to keep a remote workstation available.
As an owner or manager, remote workers also offer you a price cut. This lower cost revolves more around your office expenses, such as not having to upgrade to a larger office, supplies, equipment, and more. It frees up both capital and space in your current office, while still offering you a well-qualified candidate.
For the employees themselves, there are some excellent tax advantages (for those in the US) if they are working from a home office. Remote employees are able to work a more flexible schedule, which is a wonderful thing for families that may not be able to afford child care or may have health problems. They are still able to work a full time job without the added costs of child care, commutes, lunches, and so on.
For all sides, working remotely has a lot of advantages over holding a huge office building filled with employees. Of course, remote workstations are not ready for every market out there – yet. If you are considering hiring remote employees, consider all that you have to offer them and what they can offer you as well. You might just find that the benefits of working remotely offer more than you could have imagined.
The Down Side
When it comes to the down side of working remotely, there are only a few problems that can pop up but are easily managed. One of the main problems that remote workers face is learning time management. Managing your time can be especially hard if you work from home, where there is always something that can distract you from your work. Remote workers have to learn to treat their remote position as a job, and not just something they do in their spare time. Employers can help by realizing that any initial drop in performance is usually only temporary, and after a period of adjustment, virtual employees are reported to be more productive than their in-office coworkers in over 2/3rds of cases.
Employers also face the dilemma of meetings without employees present, and communication. While emails and instant messaging can fix a lot of communication problems, what do you do about meetings? Luckily, there are plenty of excellent video conferencing services out there that can easily help you bring in remote employees to a meeting. And these services aren’t just for large corporations either. You will find that law firms, financial consultants, doctors, psychologists, and many other businesses all can use secure video conferencing services to help them stay in touch with both employees and patients.
To Remote or Not To Remote
As you can easily see, the good side of working remotely far outweighs the bad. Those few areas that do fall into the down side of the coin are also pretty easily fixed, especially when you have motivated employees that enjoy working for you. Keep in mind all of the good areas of remote workers, such as the cost savings, and it won’t be long before you’re ready to hire people from around the world.
Jason Monroe is an avid technology lover. He has helped many clients over the years tune into the latest that technology has to offer when it comes to hiring and managing employees. From editors to IT professionals, he has helped many different people in different fields get to grips on the new wave of remote workers, including helping set up video conferencing for therapists around the US.
Further Reading on Remote/Virtual Workforces: