While the pandemic has shown a spotlight on remote work, and certainly contributed a rise in remote work adoption, recent studies reveal that telecommuting has been a rising trend.
In the past decade, remote-work arrangements have increased a whopping 159%, fueled by worker preference, cost benefits and increasingly supportive technology. For entrepreneurs seeking to lure premium technology and special-skills workers, telecommuting is an attractive proposition indeed.
Fortunately, the benefits of remote work aren’t just stacked in favor of the worker, as the employer or growing technology entrepreneur enjoys some clear benefits from this here-to-stay workforce trend as well.
Entrepreneur: Remote Workforce Gains for the Employer
The advantages for the tech enterprise – or any business – are obvious: Besides a workforce that doesn’t have a stressful commute, you have fewer or lower costs related to leasing office space and paying for utilities and equipment. While some meeting space may be necessary at times, flexible workplace options are often much less costly.
Also, as noted above, telecommuting is considered a key perk by many workers. Many talented and committed employees are looking for a better work-life balance. This allows you to hire a better talent pool without the constraints of geography impeding your search. This can be a game-changer in the high-stakes world of attracting superior technology talent.
Four Keys to Remote Workforce Management Success
Drawing on my experience running a fully remote company, there are a number of considerations to understand in order to ensure a successful remote workforce strategy.
From personal experience as an entrepreneur, technology founder and early remote workforce advocate, here are four tips for developing a thriving remote workforce.
- Remote Workforce Success Starts with the Employee
Theoretically, anyone can work remotely with a good internet connection, but I’ve found that it takes the right employee to thrive in a remote setting. Employees who work best remotely possess a “figure it out” factor. Self-starters are key in any business environment, but they are particularly valuable when working remotely. These are usually people who are more seasoned in their field or have worked in remote environments before. In addition, organizational skills and the ability to separate their work from their home life is crucial, particularly with children being homeschooled and other adults who may be at home.
It takes focus and experience to achieve and exceed goals. If you feel that you have to micromanage an employee or track their hours, they are probably not a good fit. Measure employees based on output, not how much time they are spending online.
- Personal Connection Still Counts
Having a remote workforce means fewer in-person meetings and one-on-one conversations, but that doesn’t mean there are not viable ways to develop close-knit connections. My company hosts employee-only retreats every 18 months and employee/family retreats to Disney World every three years. The families make personal connections, kids become friends and the connections can go a long way toward developing the company culture. You don’t need Mickey Mouse to do this, but with the money you save by having a remote workforce, you can likely afford to invest in retreats to bring everyone together in a cohesive way once or twice a year.
In addition, leadership teams should meet quarterly to go over plans and conduct collaborative discussions about challenges and opportunities. Outside of in-person meetings, conducting calls via videoconference is a good way to reinsert the human component.
- Flexibility Can Skyrocket Productivity
Right now, many support systems have been stripped away, leaving some employees with the dual roles of working and providing child care. At the same time, many businesses need employees to be focused now more than ever. Offering flexible work hours can be a benefit to employees. For example, is it possible to schedule meetings earlier in the morning or in the evening? Even with clients, understanding that everyone is in the same boat can help deepen relationships. And with a remote workforce, you can have employees distributed across multiple time zones, which can create a more consistently productive team throughout the day and opportunities for staggered schedules without sacrificing output.
- Think About Going All-In
Hybrid approaches can be challenging, so it’s often best to keep entire departments on the same work plan. Originally, we started with half of our workforce remote and half in the office. We found that two separate cultures emerged as a result, and those working remotely were left out of in-person meetings. We eventually decided to become 100% remote, which made for much closer relationships among employees. If you can’t go 100% remote, at least try to keep entire departments on the same work arrangement.
While making the leap to a partial or all-in remote workforce can be a significant productivity and money-saving boost to a growing enterprise, don’t skimp on planning, tools and commitment to ensure success in business while creating a satisfied, diverse and committed workforce.
Stephanie heads up the industry’s largest performance marketing agency, PartnerCentric, is a member of PerformanceIN Top 50 Industry Player List, a Forbes executive council member and frequent industry speaker. She has recently launched Control Suite, a technology designed to id affiliate marketing data issues, detect bot traffic and also accurately identify competitor rankings and other tools.