Telecommuting is another term for remote work or working from home. With technological advances, including high-speed internet, videoconferencing platforms, and online collaboration software, many employees don’t have to be in the office to manage projects successfully.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies hesitated to let employees work remotely because they feared people would not be as productive at home. However, once worldwide lockdowns forced the workforce home, people proved they could be just as effective away from the office. An estimated 25% of workers now work remotely.
Employees aren’t the only ones to see the upside to remote work. Businesses also receive multiple benefits from telework.
Benefits of telecommuting
A broader talent pool
A larger talent pool may be the most significant benefit of telework for you as an employer. You’re no longer limited to candidates in your geographical area. Whether you need to build a team of specialists for a few projects or you want to choose from the best talent in the world, remote work makes it possible.
Even when your team is based in multiple countries and time zones, they can use collaboration platforms to coordinate and brainstorm. You don’t have to find time for everyone to be available in person to deliver a great product or service.
Remote workers can be up to 40% more productive than those working in the office. One of the favorite benefits of telework is giving up their commute. They can fit work into their schedule, improving their work-life balance. They no longer have to spend a long time driving to and from the office, letting them sleep more and spend more time with their families.
To keep your remote team productive, give them flexibility and let them work independently. Encourage your remote team to work when they are most productive, and offer them tips on setting and sticking to a schedule.
Among the many benefits of teleworking for employers is higher employee morale. While offering remote access to team members based in other countries is a no-brainer, provide the option for people in your corporate location, too. Allowing employees to work from home can reduce stress and decrease how many people call in sick.
Remote workers have a lower attrition rate than those in the office, and 82% said working remotely decreased their stress.
You can save some money by employing remote workers. You can lease a smaller office and save money on utilities when you have fewer employees on location. You can also save on office supplies and maintenance of office equipment. Consider reimbursing employees for some of their office equipment to boost morale depending on local rules and regulations. On average, companies save about $11,000 per remote worker per year.
More potential business opportunities
One of the best benefits of teleworking for employers is the opportunity to establish a business presence in other countries without opening an office. You may also have the chance to build on existing relationships when you hire senior-level employees from other countries.
In many countries, you may need to find an employer of record to apply with local hiring and human resources requirements. But even if you’re hiring an employee as an independent contractor or an employee of another company, you still get the benefits of having local workers on your project team.
Globally-based employees help you learn about the business landscape in various countries, and they let you foster connections with other vendors and potential customers within each country.
A better carbon footprint
Even if environmental sustainability isn’t a top priority for your company, you can reduce your overall carbon footprint by employing remote workers. You can utilize a smaller, more energy-efficient facility for your in-office workers. Further, your remote workers don’t have to drive to work, so they cut their emissions.
Consider adding how your remote work policy benefits the environment. In a recent poll, over half of the customers said they would rather do business with a company that was acting sustainably.
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Tips for managing a good telework team
Although there are many telework advantages to you as a business owner, you may be concerned about your remote team’s ability to work efficiently. But you can improve their chances of successfully collaborating with a solid management strategy.
The best way to set your team up for success is to define what you expect from them. Work with your remote team to guide policies on deadlines, meetings, and other common issues. For example, if your remote team is working on highly technical projects and they know tasks take a week to complete, don’t set a few days' deadlines.
Consider differences in time zones to help ensure that everyone can meet their deadlines while being able to work during the hours that suit them. You may need to have some of your remote team members attend meetings outside of traditional business hours but create a varied meeting schedule to give them a chance to host a meeting during their workday.
Pre-empt common telework challenges
Although many employees prefer the chance to work remotely, there are some challenges to staying focused when you’re at home. When people work from home, they don’t have as much one-on-one time with supervisors to assess their performance and discuss other aspects of the job.
Schedule regular check-ins with the remote team, allowing them to socialize with each other and with people in the office. But beware of loading each team member’s schedule with video conferences. Many people experience video fatigue, so maintain a balance of facetime.
Make your onboarding more effective
Have a set onboarding process to ensure each remote employee has access to the same documents and training procedures. You don’t have to hold formal orientation and onboarding classes but offer some structure and outline documents.
Once you’ve set your remote work policies, include them in the employee manual, and give all your employees a copy when you’re onboarding. Offer routine check-ins at various times during the first few months of employment. This will help you gauge how your new team is doing and make any adjustments to systems that aren’t working as well.
Foster an inclusive environment
You can make your remote team feel included in decision-making. If you’re setting strategic goals for the company, give remote workers a chance to be involved. This can help them feel more engaged and accountable for their work.
When meeting as a full team during video conferences, take the time to recognize individual contributions to the team. Give remote workers a chance to congratulate and celebrate each other in a team setting, so they know they’re valuable.
Focus on professional development
Showcasing a commitment to career development can help boost morale and show employees you’re committed to them. During regular check-ins, ask your remote team about their personal development goals and create strategies for them to grow professionally.
In person, you might offer professional development workshops and mentorships. Offer these perks to remote teams as well. Look into various webinars, online courses, and virtual mentorships to help your team members reach the next level in their careers. During projects, pair some of the junior members of your remote team with senior members so they can learn on the job and offer them autonomy to make decisions.
Hire people who work well at home
Although many telework benefits exist, some people thrive in an office environment. They want to be able to pop into a supervisor’s office to ask questions. They enjoy the camaraderie that comes with working together in person. Others may do better in a hybrid setting where they can telecommute occasionally but still have the option to go into the office.
While you can’t necessarily predict who will thrive when working remotely, look for people who have experience telecommuting, and ask about it during the interview. Luckily, if you’re hiring remote team members from global locations, your applicants will likely be comfortable in a remote setting since they know the job is remote up front.
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