COVID-19 changed the world of business as we know it, especially when it comes to where we work. Not too long ago, remote jobs were uncommon. Although they were on the rise before the pandemic, many companies were forced to allow employees to work from home in the name of social distancing and safety protocols.
Though this began as a temporary solution, many businesses have found that remote work is a sustainable idea, and a good number of businesses are choosing to stick with the remote model for the foreseeable future.
Transitioning to a remote workforce is ultimately up to you, but before you decide to start recruiting remote workers, you need to consider the pros and cons of this dynamic.
Converting Your Business To Remote
One of the reasons why companies were so hesitant to transition to a remote workforce is because of productivity concerns. Managers worried that employees would not be as productive if they worked on their own in an unsupervised area. While this is typically not true, it is still a possibility. Your company will need to lay down ground rules and the right processes so you know what to expect before recruiting for your first remote position.
To start, you will need to consider how managers will communicate with remote workers. Will daily check-ins be necessary? If so, will that be via call, email or instant message? Also, at what times should these check-ins occur?
You’ll also need to set guidelines about what is allowed and not allowed, even in a remote workspace. The rules should be the same or close to what you have in the office, so if office workers have a set lunch period, it should be the same at home. If it is an expectation that in-office employees are to be cordial to clients, then remote employees should be expected to maintain absolute professionalism during calls and video chats from home as well.
You’ll also need to consider how new remote employees will be trained when they can’t see their managers face to face. A smart idea is to go with a screen-sharing utility that will allow management to follow along with the employee as they train. This same technology is useful for supervisors who need to check in on agents to ensure that they are keeping busy and completing their work properly.
There are many pros and cons as far as costs are concerned for remote employees. On the plus side, the more employees you have working from home, the greater price reduction you will see at the office concerning your utility bills and lease agreement. However, on the other side of the coin, if employees are not careful with internet usage at home, they could create a larger bill that could negate everything you saved. Set ground rules for internet usage to avoid an issue.
A great perk that your company could show within its promotional materials is how your transition to remote work is helping the environment. Just the fact that employees do not have to drive to and from work greatly reduces the number of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere.
In addition, remote arrangements can also be more sustainable by conserving energy and refraining from lighting an entire office since employees work at home. With that said, employees can still waste electricity at home, so HR should send out an email about being environmentally conscious at their residences as well.
From a recruiting standpoint, the ability to hire remote employees can be a godsend as you can bring on employees from anywhere in the country. For companies that have exhausted the local talent pool, that could open a whole new world.
However, if you do hire employees from other states, you will have to consider potential costs in that regard as well. Different states have unique health insurance guidelines, tax rules and laws, so if following these requirements will impact your bottom line, then you’ll have some decisions to make.
The main benefit of having everyone working in one office is that it is easier to observe your staff and ensure that they are healthy and safe in all possible regards. When everyone is remote, however, that can be a bit more difficult, so you will need to know how your company will handle specific scenarios.
For instance, many working parents will need to care for their kids before they go to school in the morning. If they have an early work schedule, the task of trying to juggle work and family can sometimes take a toll and mental exhaustion can be the result. In those cases, your company could always offer flexible schedules where employees can start later or leave earlier as long as they complete their work.
On that note, even if your organization allows flexible schedules, there should still be expectations and protections set forth for when employees should be at their desks.
One of the biggest protections you should create from the beginning of a remote arrangement is protecting against cybercrime. We rarely think about the potential of a cyber-attack in the office because, in the back of our minds, we know that the IT team has the situation under control.
However, when employees are working from home, a lack of antivirus software and proper protection can allow any number of cyber-attacks, from phishing scams to viruses, to infiltrate the business network. Before your company recruits remote workers, your tech team will need to look at how to keep everyone in the organization safe and secure.
In the end, remote work is a great option that can allow companies to save money, help the environment, and hire from anywhere, but it is not a decision to take lightly. Consider the pros and cons listed here and make the best decision for your business.
Ainsley Lawrence is a freelance writer from the Pacific Northwest. She is interested in better living through technology and education. She loves traveling to beautiful places and is frequently lost in a mystery podcast.