During the COVID-19 pandemic, due to stay-at-home mandates issued worldwide, the prevalence of remote work increased around the globe. This dramatic shift in humanity’s outlook on working from remote locations has the potential to change the future of the modern workplace.
In a survey, 74% of working professionals and 76% of entrepreneurs said they believed remote work would become the new normal even post-pandemic. A stunning 97% of those surveyed said they wished to maintain some degree of flexibility between working in an office and working remotely.
One study anticipated that by 2025, an estimated 36.2 million people in America alone will work remotely, which is an 87% increase from the number of Americans who worked remotely prior to the worldwide workplace shutdowns.
Unsurprisingly, even after the worst of the pandemic has passed, many companies have allowed their employees to continue working remotely at least part of the time. Depending on the future goals of your business, adopting a remote-first workplace strategy offers a large number of benefits to employers and employees alike.
Introduction to remote-first work culture
“Remote-friendly” and “remote-first” are business terms that are sometimes used as synonyms, but there are a number of significant differences between the two terms.
A remote-friendly company allows its employees to work remotely at least some of the time, although the majority of work is done in the company’s physical office. In a remote-friendly workplace, remote work may be seen as a privilege or a perk made available only to certain employees. The company culture in a remote-friendly business structure usually centers around being present in the company’s physical office location. Remote workers with a remote-friendly company may feel that by not being present in the office with their coworkers, they are missing out on experiences and opportunities. They may wonder if their voices are being heard by the powers that be.
A remote-friendly work culture, however, looks at remote work as the default manner of working and as equal to—or even superior to—performing work in the physical office. In such companies, remote work feels normal and natural; people working remotely under these circumstances tend not to feel like an afterthought but as a member of the workforce who is equally important as the employees who are physically present in the business office.
It is important to note, however, that “remote first” does not equate to “remote only.” A remote-only organizational structure completely eliminates the physical business location and therefore the possibility for employees to work in the office. A remote-first culture encourages working remotely but does not mandate it.
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What is a remote work strategy?
A company’s plan to implement and maintain any level of remote work “friendliness” must be built upon a solid foundation. Some essential factors that must be included in your company’s remote work strategy include:
- Expectations and structure: Structure is essential in building a successful remote work strategy. The company’s leadership must plan out every aspect of its remote work strategy. This includes the types of jobs that can be performed remotely and the expectations for time worked, clock-in and clock-out times, breaks, check-ins, and deadlines.
- Workplace culture: Remote employees do not have the same experiences they would have in the office. It is important to nurture and maintain workplace culture in a remote-only situation by paying attention to your remote employees. Asking for your employees’ input and meeting their needs is essential. Giving them opportunities to interact with each other, such as remote coffee breaks, happy hours, and other virtual bonding exercises, can build community.
- Work/life balance: Remote work can blur the line between work life and home life. Leaders should educate remote workers about how to create healthy habits. An obvious start and end to the workday, separating the work and living spaces, and other suggestions can help remote employees maintain essential balance.
- Technology: Technology is a non-negotiable factor in any company’s remote work strategy. The technology used by remote workers dictates every aspect of the expected work, and leaders must keep this in mind when it comes to software, hardware, and other technological components.
- Legal and compliance: Depending on where your remote workers are located, there may be different tax, legal, health, safety, or financial implications of remote work. It is important to stay abreast of the rules, regulations, and guidelines for each area to avoid stepping on any legal landmines.
How tech companies can leverage remote work to build exceptional teams
The world is currently experiencing a phenomenon that has been dubbed a “talent crunch,” which essentially means that there are not enough skilled workers to fill all of the open positions. Particularly in three broad industries—finance and business services; technology, media, and telecommunications; and manufacturing—there is a worldwide shortage of qualified applicants for a large number of high-skilled jobs. The number of local skilled workers qualified to fill any given position is shrinking, seemingly by the minute.
Now that remote work is essentially ingrained into most societies around the world, you are no longer restricted to hiring workers local to your business office. Remote work has opened the door to a new perspective on hiring. You may find your ideal applicant in the same city or on the opposite side of the globe, and both are equally appealing in terms of accessibility thanks to the remote work model.
Skuad, a global human resources platform, offers this guide to hiring remote employees for more information.
Remote work, “the ultimate equalizer”
Forbes has called remote work “the ultimate equalizer for talent acquisition”. Not only does remote work encourage productivity, reduce or eliminate commuting time, and contribute to overhead cost savings, but it also widens the talent pool and levels the playing field. Smaller enterprises can now pursue highly desirable potential workers without the disadvantage of competing within the same local talent pool as larger companies.
Offer high-skilled applicants what they want
The ability to work remotely is considered a very attractive benefit to a large number of job seekers. Offering such a sought-after benefit will make your company a much more appealing prospect to the most skilled and talented potential hires than those companies who have not yet committed to a remote-friendly or remote-first strategy.
One eLearning stats shows that 51% of businesses conduct eLearning courses because they believe it will improve employee morale. This will helps not only increase productivity but also improves the high skilled employee retention and engagement.
Why organizations need to adopt remote-first strategies in 2024
To put it bluntly, if your company does not make an active effort to keep up with the times and to offer the same—or better—perks to potential employees, you will be left behind.
Advantages of a remote-first strategy for employees
There are a number of reasons that top talent tends to seek employers offering a remote-first work culture, such as:
- Access to the most desired jobs and the most coveted employers: The ability to work remotely provides workers from all over the world the same access to highly sought employment opportunities, regardless of where the employer is located.
- Flexibility and adaptability: Working remotely generally allows for more scheduling flexibility, enabling workers to maintain a healthier work/life balance.
- Reduction in commute time and expense: It is hard to ignore the allure of commuting just down the hallway as opposed to spending an hour or more in rush-hour traffic to reach the same job. Workers enjoy multiple benefits from lower or no commute time, including less stress and less money spent on gas and vehicle-related expenses.
- Positive environmental impact: Throughout the pandemic, a silver lining made itself clear: remote working led to slower deforestation rates, reduced air pollution, and improved water quality around the world.
Advantages of a remote-first strategy for employers
There is little doubt that adopting a remote-first strategy is in the best interests of many businesses and likely some industries as a whole. Some of the biggest benefits for employers include:
- Increased employee engagement and morale: The pandemic’s dramatic increase in remote work shattered the stereotype of the lazy, disconnected remote worker. According to a study by Stanford University, remote workers are on average 9% more engaged in their jobs than those who work in a standard office environment.
- Higher productivity: The same Stanford study showed that remote workers are 13.5% more productive on average than office workers.
- Reduced turnover: Another surprising statistic from the Stanford study was that remote workers, compared to brick-and-mortar office employees, are on average 50% less likely to quit.
- Reduced overhead expenses: Fewer workers in the office means reduced real estate costs, utility bills, office furniture, cleaning costs, travel expenses, and more.
- Better talent acquisition opportunities: As we mentioned in detail above, offering potential workers the opportunity to work remotely expands your hiring pool from the local area to the entire globe.
- Meeting the expectation of top talent: Remote work has become one of the most sought-after benefits when highly skilled workers seek employment.
“Remote first” is more than a business buzzword. In today’s highly competitive hiring market, adopting a remote-first business strategy allows you to position your company as an employer offering one of the most sought-after benefits in today’s job market.
The benefits of a remote-first strategy are far-reaching and should not be ignored. Give your company the competitive advantage by considering adopting a remote-first work culture.
Contact Skuad today for more information.