Remote work is no longer reserved for employees of large corporations or influencers traveling the globe. The world of work is shifting toward a flexible schedule, with many employees seeking a remote or hybrid arrangement.
Businesses also benefit from a remote workforce, which reduces costs for real estate and utilities and allows them to hire workers from around the globe. Providing qualified employees with a remote work option can attract top talent, secure employee loyalty and diversify company culture.
Let’s look at the benefits of remote work for your business and how to implement a successful remote work policy.
Every company or organization that wants to accomplish its mission must consider remote work for all employees, if feasible. When companies embrace this new business reality, they will discover many benefits for employees and the company itself.
Remote work is a long-sought-after employee benefit. Studies and reports over the last two decades have shown increased productivity, higher employee engagement, and higher levels of key performance metrics at companies that maintain a robust remote policy.
In a time when employee engagement is essential for company success, a remote work policy for all employees is vital for every company, agency, department and organization to consider and apply. When employees feel cared for, they often care more about their organization and its goals.
A key benefit for companies and employees related to remote work is the ability to have a continuity of operations to overcome unexpected setbacks, shutdowns and crises like COVID-19. Companies and organizations need to be adequately prepared for the unexpected. Companies that plan for the unplanned are prepared to handle uncertainty.
Organizations that lead in allowing remote work will discover the benefit of higher executive retention and engagement and lower executive turnover. When remote or flex work is not allowed or encouraged, many employees cease striving for higher roles in the organization, impacting their professional progress and draining the pool of top-level talent.
The reality of executive turnover is essential for leaders and organizations to understand and address so that their best talent is not sidelined or sidetracked, especially among underrepresented populations like women executives and people of color. When companies strive for diversity and inclusion, they become more substantial companies. One might even express this critical principle through this theme: Improve the team to improve the organization.
One of the most important benefits of establishing a robust remote work policy is that employees and supervisors generally accomplish more work. The supervisor who can work anywhere is the supervisor who can manage anywhere and anytime. When remote work is the norm, the supervisor is able to manage life and work more effectively.
From a fundamental time standpoint, when a supervisor is allowed to convert commute time to production time, the supervisor and the organization become more effective and productive.
Facebook recently advanced the concept of moving executives to 100 percent remote work, reducing a corporate office’s environmental impact. It found further financial benefits to adjusting executives’ pay based on locality. This move could save larger companies millions of dollars by allowing executives to work anywhere and aligning their pay with the city they live in. These are real dollars that can be used to enhance the company’s mission, reward and attract employees, and reinvest in future products and services.
Executives model excellent work behavior and cultural norms in many areas of an organization, but usually not in remote work. Companies and organizations often allow rank-and-file employees to work remotely, but yet want supervisors and managers to continue working in the office for accessibility and role-modeling purposes.
However, in the digital age, it is crucial that top executives set an example of how to work effectively from a remote location. This can help model effective remote communications, the use of electronic systems, leadership in remote meetings and distance delegating.
Workplace changes impact every generation. The millennial generation may be leading the charge of work changes in technology, outside-the-box thinking and innovative solutions. However, they still need leaders who can help them grasp the art of working from home and balancing work with their personal lives to avoid burnout.
Employers that expand their job pool improve the quality of their organization. A significant portion of the workforce will be eligible to retire in the next five years, and with a growing percentage of the workforce under age 30, businesses need to do more to attract the younger generation to work for them. This is especially true for workers with skills in high demand.
Leveraging technology and allowing flexibility help smaller companies compete with larger companies like Facebook, Google and Verizon. Smaller businesses need to offer competitive opportunities to the new generation of workers to attract the most effective workforce.
With the high costs of housing, health insurance and daycare, employees are working harder than ever before to balance work and family. Companies like HubSpot are setting a high bar for flexibility in the workplace.
The tech company started a program in 2021 that offers three flexible work arrangements. Office lovers can choose @office, which means working in the office at least three days a week. Hybrid workers can select @flex, which allows employees to work two days in the office and the rest remotely. The @home option gives the most flexibility, with 100 percent remote work. Perhaps the best part of HubSpot’s remote work policy is that it allows employees to change their chosen work option once every year.
In 2023, nearly 30 percent of U.S. employees work remotely. Having a remote work policy in place that clearly defines when employees can work away from the office or flex their schedule is essential for setting expectations.
While inclusivity is vital, it’s worth noting that not every job is suitable for remote work. Some positions must be based in an office because the type of work they involve cannot be done remotely.
When building a remote work policy, you will need to consider the following:
Always consult with legal, HR and financial teams before deciding on a remote work policy. These departments can help you identify the pros and cons, compliance requirements, and tax implications so you don’t waste time and resources if remote work isn’t appropriate for your business.
When working with remote employees, you must invest in cybersecurity that protects your workers’ and customers’ information. If your industry has HIPAA requirements, you might need additional security measures like a virtual private network (VPN) and HIPAA-compliant customer relationship management (CRM) software.
A remote work policy should include an expectation of company communication. Scheduling time for meetings – whether it’s once a day or once a week, a one-on-one meeting with a manager, or a secure chat for questions and issues – is essential for maintaining good communication.
Schedule meetings and chats during regular business hours so employees can be available for them.
It may be advantageous to schedule meetings during a remote worker’s least productive time of the day or week. Use employee tracking software to gather work data so you can maximize productivity by giving the employee a boost in morale when they need it most.
Be sure to schedule in-person meetings and events too. Even though remote workers prefer working in their own space, it’s vital for teams to meet face-to-face to work collaboratively and deepen relationships.
Plus, regular check-ins are necessary for challenging your team. Define goals and stay on top of deadlines by managing employees using the best project management software available.
Recognize that not every worker is fit for remote work. While some employees are more productive at home, others do their best work at the office. A remote work policy should outline performance thresholds (and consequences if not met) for keeping a flexible work schedule. [Read related article: The WFH Wars: Is Your Business Increasing Productivity or Creating ‘Lazy Gits’ With Remote Work?]
Hiring remote hourly workers can be a challenge if you don’t have a preferred schedule in place. Telling workers what time they need to be online can help prevent them from overworking and charging overtime pay for their efforts. While salaried workers may have more flexibility, it’s important that the tasks given fit into a standard 40-hour workweek so employees can maintain their work-life balance.
A remote worker’s pay and benefits should be clearly outlined in the policy to prevent confusion. Each company offers different perks, which can influence whether an employee wants to work in the office or at home.
Check out the benefits and perks that keep remote employees happy.
Ken Gosnell contributed to this article.