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Is a Remote Workforce Good for Your Business?

by Guest Writter
Simon Slade, CEO & Co-founder, SaleHoo

Hiring staff can be one of the greatest challenges for a business owner because expanding your team with great talent is a constant necessity. The trend of remote work is a response to that challenge. GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com suggests that 50% of the US workforce holds a job that is compatible with partially remote work, and 80-90% of the workforce would like to work remotely. As employees and employers alike recognize the desirable nature of this arrangement, more businesses are looking for ways to implement a remote workforce.

But how do you do it? Will it work? Is it even feasible for your business? Read on to find out.

Will Remote Hiring Work for Your Business?

Some businesses require face-to-face time among all employees. Even if you need some employees “on the ground” and in the office, ask yourself if it is possible for some of your staff to work remotely. Do computer-heavy tasks like media relations or graphic design require an employee to be at the office from 9-5?

Consider all the different manifestations of remote work. While an entirely remote staff might not be right for your business, perhaps a few employees could work from home, or all employees could work from home part-time. Even a small change toward remote work could be beneficial for your business.

Benefits of Remote Hires

Lower costs

One of the most obvious benefits of remote employees is lower overhead costs. When you reduce or eliminate the need for office space and all the costs related to that, you save money. GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com estimates that a typical business would save $11,000 per person annually just for having employees work from home half-time. Imagine the savings with a full-time remote staff!

Staff satisfaction

At Doubledot Media, 24 of our 29 employees telecommute. These staff members report higher job satisfaction and produce just as satisfactory results, if not better, as those working out of our local office. When staff are given the opportunity to be closer to their families and work at their own pace, free of distractions, the results are generally positive for all parties.

Less illness = more productivity

An underrated positive effect of remote hiring is a reduction in staff illnesses and sick leave, which translates into a higher level of productivity. In a traditional office, employees may come to work with an illness before they show symptoms, causing an unfortunate domino effect. Before you know it, half of your team is out with the flu. With telecommuting, not only do your employees not infect one another, but they are also prepared to work when they feel well enough. Even if that is only for a few hours a day, that’s an improvement over zero hours — which is what you get with a traditional employee on sick leave.

Global ambassadors

Not only do you get to pick from the largest, worldwide pool of applicants, ensuring your employees are the best, but you also have representatives for your company set throughout the world. This spreads organic awareness about your company just from your employees being in different places, talking about their job.

Challenges of Remote Hires

Communication demands

When oceans separate your employees, communication is a challenge. One way we minimize the distance is with our Skype watercooler, which allows all Doubledot Media employees to instant message the entire group. The dialogue is both for fun and for work, so it helps build camaraderie while serving a key business function. Tap into resources like Google Hangouts, Skype, Gchat and others; decide on one and encourage employees to stay logged in.

When your employees don’t work in the same office as you, clearly defining your expectations is paramount. This makes a hands-on management style nearly impossible, so employees must explicitly know what is expected of them. That way, they know what to deliver even when their boss isn’t in the next office.

Developing community

With a staff spread out across the world, it’s difficult to build team camaraderie and promote company pride. Encouraging collaboration and including employees on key decisions helps them feel invested in the company and encourages them to take pride in their work.

Another way to develop company culture with remote employees is to meet up whenever possible. If a few of your employees live in the same area, arrange a meet-up. This could take the form of a weekend retreat or just a happy hour. If you’re traveling and find yourself in the area of one of your employees, make a point to meet up with them. Take advantage of any face-to-face time possible.

Above all, one of the major building blocks of company culture is traditions. This can be as simple as a holiday card or a monthly company newsletter. Create a tradition and stick to it. When new employees come onboard, pull them into the fold. It’s possible to have a positive company culture even with a remote staff.

How to Hire Remotely

There are a number of resources to help you find remote staff. One of my favorites is LinkedIn Recruiter, which I find to be most effective in hiring quality employees. Other helpful sites include Freelancer and UpWork. All of these sites allow you to search for remote employees by their credentials, or post jobs which the employees can respond to with proposals.

Some effective remote work relationships begin as just a simple, one-time, freelance job. Hiring remotely gives you the opportunity to do paid trials with a contractor before making the decision to work with them long-term. If they demonstrate the skills and commitment necessary for the position, you can propose ongoing virtual employment.

Hiring remotely is an active process. You can’t just post a job description and wait for the perfect resume to end up in your inbox. With access to a larger pool of applicants, you can hire the best, but first you have to find them. That means sifting through a larger number of potentially less-than-ideal employees. As you continue to expand your remote team, your instincts will improve and it will become easier to seek out and identify a good fit.

Shaping a remote workforce to meet your business’s needs will take time and effort, but it’s possible. Keep an open mind about innovations that will allow you to support a remote staff. The benefits and challenges are unique, but the trend of the remote workforce is not going away any time soon. It’s what employees want and it can be an effective business decision if implemented correctly.

About the Author

Simon Slade is CEO and co-founder of SaleHoo, an online wholesale directory of over 8,000 prescreened suppliers; Affilorama, an affiliate marketing training portal with 300,000 members and over 100 free video lessons; and their parent company Doubledot Media Limited, which provides seven different training and software applications to over 500,000 customers worldwide. 

[Image courtesy of nenetus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net]

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