There are many ways to hire an employee. You can have employees who work in the office full time. You can have employees who work from home part of the time. And, as the pandemic has shown to be more viable than many imagined, you can have employees who work remotely.
Remote work is nothing new, but it has long been the domain of freelancers and specific high-value employees who are essential enough to demand that level of flexibility in their scheduling and operations. Pandemic safety, though, pushed millions of people towards working from home, often full time. Despite some objections, it has proven to be very viable for many businesses and many employees.
Don’t just take our word for it. Here are the many benefits of hiring remote/virtual employees.
These are some of the foremost driving factors in any business. After all, at the end of the day, it usually comes down to money. Depending on your business, a cost-benefit analysis might reveal that transitioning to a largely remote workforce is simply better financially while maintaining the same or higher levels of service.
Your overhead costs for office expenses drop.
One of the best benefits for a company in a position to make a change is a dramatic reduction in the overhead costs of running a business. Some businesses can’t make this change – retail outlets can’t downsize, for example – but many office-based businesses can take steps such as:
- Move to a smaller office with a cheaper lease and utility bills.
- Reduce expenses from office furniture and equipment.
- Less need to pay for fringe benefits like parking passes or public transit costs for employees.
You’ll never reach a zero-expense workforce, but you can dramatically reduce costs.
Your employees may demand less money in exchange.
Historically, 30% of employees say they would take the ability to work remotely in lieu of a pay raise. That number has likely only risen in recent years, particularly as more employees experience the ability to work from home due to the pandemic.
This is not to say that you can cut pay for employees working remotely, as such a move has dramatic effects on morale and will almost guarantee those employees leave for greener pastures. However, for hiring new employees, you may be able to offer a lower base salary in exchange for remote work.
Your employees save money on their expenses.
Employees can also save money when you allow them to work remotely. They don’t need to pay as much for things like gas or transit, vehicle wear, eating out, and other assorted costs that come with commutes. They can also save on things like childcare.
“The financial (and emotional!) drag of commuting is completely removed, which surveys suggest saves remote workers about $5,000 per year. And that’s without factoring in the cost of regularly buying lunch out!” – Memory.ai
There are hidden costs to remote work, such as increased bills on HVAC, furniture, equipment, power bills, and so on. However, these are usually lower than the amount saved, so it balances out.
Other Business Benefits
There are many benefits a business can receive from a remote workforce that can’t easily be labeled financial benefits. Some are less tangible than others, but they’re all valuable to have.
You can hire the best candidates from anywhere in the world.
When you don’t need an employee to come into the office, you don’t need to hire from your local area or pay for relocation to your area. You can hire people from anywhere in the world. If the best candidate to fill an open role is in Florida, Oregon, Canada, Germany, or Malaysia, it doesn’t matter; you can still hire them. This allows you to build a global workforce of nothing but the best candidates.
The primary challenge here is to consider local and regional labor laws and the cost of living. A company based in Kansas might not hire someone in Los Angeles simply because a Kansas-standard salary won’t cut living expenses in LA. You may also need to navigate international labor and tax laws, which can be very complex.
You’ll have higher retention rates with employees.
Employees love working remotely. Amongst those who have already spent time working remotely, 99% of them say they want to continue remote work for the rest of their career. It’s no surprise then that many employees will leave their current position for one that offers remote work.
“Ninety-five percent of employers say telework has a high impact on employee retention.” – AllBusiness
Since the cost of replacing an employee is high, it’s worthwhile to reduce turnover any way you can.
You don’t need as many middle managers.
One benefit that some companies can take advantage of is the opportunity to streamline their workforce. Many companies, especially those that are mid-sized and growing, end up bloated with middle managers. These managers serve little purpose beyond acting as watchdogs and hall monitors for an in-office workforce. However, if your workforce transitions to primarily remote staff, many of those same managers are no longer necessary. You can either transfer them to positions where they can do more tangible work or let them go and replace them with more dedicated workers.
You may be able to extend business hours.
One excellent benefit of hiring people across the country or around the world is coverage throughout a greater range of time zones. This is particularly useful for companies that want to offer around-the-clock customer support or sales. You can hire people in the relevant time zones rather than forcing local employees to work odd hours. This also helps sales in regions in those time zones, as they can talk to people who are more likely to be local to them.
You increase diversity within your company.
One of the best things any modern business can do is increase diversity within its staff. Whether it’s more female employees, more BIPOC employees, or employees from diverse geographic regions, all diversity helps.
“When you’re working with people from different parts of the country or the world, you will benefit from their diverse cultural backgrounds. As noted in an article from Business.com, `This comes in handy for finding unique solutions to problems and is especially handy when trying to reach out to a broader audience.'” – FlexJobs
Allowing remote work and, consequently, hiring candidates from diverse locations, is by definition, going to increase diversity in perspective throughout your organization.
You can more easily scale your workforce up or down.
This one is mainly beneficial for companies that hire primarily contract and freelance workers than those who hire for traditional salaried employee roles. When your workforce operates on contracts, you can boost or cut back on those contracts with ease. Need to scale up for an event or seasonal change in demand? Easy. Need to cut back to save costs during a lean season? Also easy. Remote work means you have very little adjustment to do in your office as well.
Remote work is generally better for the environment.
For businesses that want to promote environmental health, combat climate change, and present themselves as forward-thinking, remote/virtual work is hugely beneficial to the environment. Sure, the impact of your staff might be minimal compared to those of a logistics and transportation company, but every little bit helps during the current climate crisis.
You create more jobs in certain industries.
Above, we mentioned that you could cut back on roles like middle managers. Conversely, you increase jobs in industries like telecommunications, IT, and infrastructure. The labor shift is important, and it generally skews in favor of increasing jobs even if some jobs are cut.
Productivity and Morale Benefits
Employees experience many of the benefits of working remotely first-hand, and those benefits make them better employees. Sure, some individuals can’t handle a more flexible and free-form work life when working from home, but there are many ways to mitigate that issue. For many people, however, it’s a net benefit across the board.
Your employees will generally be more productive.
Many people think that working from home means working against distractions in a worse environment; and that employees will slack off and be less productive. Nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, employees working from home are almost always dramatically more productive, achieving their tasks in shorter amounts of time and with fewer distractions, even if they have a busy home life.
“Employees are less distracted. They don’t get sidetracked by office noise, synchronous communication, or colleagues dropping by their desk. This makes it easier to practice unbroken, focused deep work more often.” – Memory.ai
Once they get used to it, employees have fewer distractions.
There are certainly distractions in a home office that don’t crop up at a work office. Children and pets demand attention, neighbors want to talk, and even the environment can be distracting. However, this is all fixable with a dedicated home office, office hours, and policies with family.
And, after all, it’s not as if office life is constant nose-to-the-grindstone work. Employees take breaks, chat with one another, visit the break room or restroom, or engage in small talk instead of working. There’s a give-and-take at play that usually falls in favor of remote work.
Flexible timing allows employees to work to their strengths.
Some employees work best when they can block out four hours and buckle down to work with no distractions. Others work best when they can focus for an hour, take a break for 30 minutes, and repeat. The key with remote work is that flexibility; your employees can work to their strengths rather than work within a framework they don’t find effective.
Employees call out sick much less frequently.
How often do your employees call out sick? Now, how many of those sick days are for reasons such as a video game release, a concert, a gathering with friends, or even just your employees feeling a little under the weather and not wanting to feel miserable in the office? How many are times when an employee has to use up their paid time off?
Many of these are mitigated when an employee can work from home with their own flexible hours. Employees call out less often, saving everyone time and money.
“They are also less likely to call in with sudden absences such as being sick when they’re not really sick. These sudden absences, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cost employers in the United States around $225.8 billion annually, or $1,685 per employee due to lost productivity.” – Apollo Technical.
Employees can build a better work/life balance.
The time cost of working in an office is more than just the 9-5. It’s the time your employees need to get up early, commute, and generally spend time away from their families. It’s the cost of losing the chance to eat dinner as a family. It’s the time missed in raising a child and being there for them during formative moments. When employees can work remotely, they can build a better balance.
During the pandemic, remote work is safer for everyone.
Ideally, the pandemic will end within a year, but it will be safer for everyone if people can work from home as it continues to rage. Less contact with others means less chance to spread illness and less chance that your entire office will have to spend weeks at home, sick.
Employees develop better communication skills.
Employees who are left to their own devices and forced to communicate remotely will be forced, trial-by-fire, to learn better communication skills. They will also need to learn how to use business tools like Slack, Zoom, and your company knowledge base.
Employees can pursue personal development with greater freedom.
In the time saved by not needing to commute and not needing to fill time in an office, your employees are free to pursue personal development. They might work on their health, they might develop their skills or work on side projects, or they might be able to pursue certifications that make them better at their job. All of this makes them better employees for you.
Employees are generally happier.
Pretty much all of the benefits above contribute to the emotional and mental well-being of your employees. Employees with a better mental outlook and a happier emotional state are more productive, collaborative, and better at their jobs. How can you pass it up?
Embracing Remote and Virtual Workers
Right now, if you read business publications, you will see article after article talking about the “hidden costs” of remote work and how a return to the office is better for all involved, coupled with attempts by corporations to force their workers back to the office by cutting pay and other benefits.
All of this is the last gasp of office culture. Middle managers are pushing to retain jobs that don’t need to exist, corporate landlords are facing the prospect of losing money on unnecessary leases, and redundant executives are facing the revelation of their lack of relevance within their businesses. Don’t fall for it all.
Study after study after study has shown that remote work is better for both employees and businesses in almost every case. It will be better for you too