Last May, the Society for Human Resource Management and Oxford Economics noted the number of remote employees had skyrocketed between January and May of 2020. From 3% of salaried and 2% of hourly employees working remotely to a whopping 64% of salaried and 49% of hourly employees by the report’s release in early May. A trend that had been seeing modest increases suddenly catapulted, due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
As the pandemic lingered, the benefits of offsite work scenarios solidified. Reduced overhead expense, as well as a slash to funds spent on commuting, resulted in cost savings for both employees and employers. And, a surprise to some, a ramping up of productivity. A common assumption that work-from-home would result in a downward slide for productivity was refuted by fascinating research from a California-based company that found productivity shot up 47%. While some noted their work-life balance suffered initially, resourcefulness and innovation soon pulled the equation back into balance.
Before long, many companies announced plans to make remote-work arrangements a permanent fixture even after the health crisis ended. The question is no longer, “Why embrace remote work?” Now that the tide has turned in favor of work-from-home, or the newer, more accurate phrase, work-from-anywhere, the burning question is, “How can we build a strong remote workforce?”
Hire the Right People
Not everyone is cut out for remote work. As you look to fill openings or expand your workforce, keep in mind the skills that will prime a remote worker for success.
- Good time management
- Ability to work independently
- Great organizational skills
- Ability to communicate in a clear, concise manner
- A proactive approach to assignments
- Not afraid to ask for help
While a previous successful stint with remote work may give a candidate an advantage, don’t assume that someone who has not experienced offsite employment would be a bad hire. Many skills that position a candidate as a good hire, for instance, initiative and perseverance, would serve a remote-work employee well.
Recognize the Importance of Communication
Businesses thrive on clear, consistent communication among team members, between management and staff, in connections with the consumer, the clients, the vendors. Without communication, nothing will work as it should.
Now, if a portion or all of the team are working remotely, the importance of effective communication easily doubles, maybe even triples. The more physical distance between the company’s workforce, the bigger the challenge looms to keep everyone on the same page. For all the positives a remote workforce offers, being under different roofs can hinder a cohesive effort to produce a quality product or provide a useful service.
But thanks to video conferencing and a variety of apps, the team can stay connected. Group projects can continue with input from all involved. The entire staff can come together just as you once did before remote work created multiple workspaces. The key? An intense focus on adjusting communication practices until an effective formula ensures that nothing and no one falls through the cracks.
Set Specific Expectations
Such expectations may include an attendance policy for department or company virtual meetings. A detailed outline of the who, what, when, and where of deadlines. What about hours worked versus the amount of work completed? How will vacation and personal time be handled?
Much time and energy can be saved and relationship woes avoided by establishing expectations as soon as possible and communicating those guidelines across every department, to every employee.
Remote work is here to stay. As one of the most experienced and trusted employment agencies in Connecticut, A.R. Mazzotta is committed to assisting companies with their remote-employee needs. Give us a ring to speak to a real person!