How can your business benefit from hiring remote workers?
Remote work isn’t just so that employees can work in their pajamas. Businesses have a lot to gain from it – as 30% of Australian small business owners have already discovered.
It’s been happening gradually for the past decade or so. An exodus of employees from office buildings to return to their homes. Now there is chatter that by 2020 half of the global workforce will be remote workers.
Australia is in on it. One in three Australians regularly works from home. Surprised? The average commute time in Sydney is 5.5 hours per week. Yikes.
And the total number of Australians who already work remotely? A whopping 3.5 million!
That means one thing for sure: businesses, bosses, even conscientious CFOs have acquiesced to remote work. They certainly wouldn’t have if it was only about being happy knowing their employees can work in their jammies.
They agreed to it—no, they leveraged this model—because it made a difference to their bottom lines.
Hiring remote workers – what’s in it for your business:
1) Don’t look an expense cut in the mouth – Having a full-time staff that works from an office mean many unnecessary overheads. From real estate rent to extra staff to way too many staplers – all expenses you can do without. But of course, it’s more complicated than that. Okay, be honest, how do you really feel about the employee benefits that as a small business owner NES has set for you? Taxation, superannuation, fringe benefits – sounds like a hoot. Remote employees are responsible for paying their own taxes and getting their own WiFi connections. Having remote employees is a good way to cut cost without cutting corners.
2) The world is your talent pool – Trying to find the most suitable employee from your locality kind of defeats the purpose. What if they are not the best match for your business and their chief talent is that they can come to work on time? Unless you need someone to literally hold the fort, you’re selling yourself short settling for a local employee who doesn’t fit your exact requirements. Widening your search to global levels will spoil you for your perfect choice. And often you can get an international remote hire for a salary that will please your accountant.
3) Get productivity down to a fine art – If you think that the only way your employees will work is with you breathing down their shirt collars, you’re mistaken. Studies show that employees who worked from home were actually more productive, worked longer hours, and took fewer sick days than employees who worked from office. A study led by a Yale Senior Fellow showed that at-home workers saved a company as much as USD 2000 annually. Increased productivity may be a trite phrase. But to a small business, it can mean more orders, easily met deadlines, and a better night’s sleep.
4) Do what you wanna do – The multiple hats a small business owner needs to wear needn’t include micro-manager. With an in-office team the risk of this happening increases greatly. If you’ve actually found your best match while hiring, you should be able to rely on them to carry out their duties. Understandably, that’s a big if, especially when you’re solely dependent on a tiny talent pool to fill the positions, to begin with. Curtail office work that relies heavily on your supervision. Because it takes you away from your own duties –executing your vision for your company, undertaking fruitful collaborations, and networking with influencers. These are not responsibilities you can pass on to someone else.
5) Beat the alternatives and while you’re at it beat your competitions –Yes, even the “work-from-office model” is evolving. And once again it’s a global phenomenon. The typical work week has been reduced to 35 hours instead of 40 in France. Employees with ailing family members can avail extended unpaid leaves in the US. And in Australia, parental leave has been extended to 18 weeks. But for small businesses that operate under stringent monetary and time constraints, reduced work week or extended leaves are out of the question or at least is an inconvenience you can perhaps eliminate. The best alternative is actually remote workers – who, it turns out, work more hours than prescribed to do their best work. And you can well imagine, employees who will go to such lengths will give you a cutting edge over your competitors.
6) Turn the tide of high turnover – You might have wondered around our third point why remote workers are more productive than their in-office counterparts. It could be the five and a half hours they save commuting. It could be that working from home gives them the flexibility to achieve a better work-life balance. Or perhaps it’s simply the fact that they work with far fewer distractions than at the office. Whatever the reason, it’s undeniable that employee morale affects individual performance and that of the whole team. Working from home makes workers happy. And happy employees equal loyal employees who stick around and support you through thick and thin. A lower HR turnover (another thing that adds nothing to your productivity) is a huge secondary benefit to hiring remote workers.
In fact, flexibility has become one of the benefits employees now actively seek. It stands to reason that your employee, no matter how loyal she is to you, wouldn’t want to miss her daughter’s School Spectacular. But she is more than willing to work early morning or late at night to meet your deadlines. The 9-to-5 routine adds very little value to those who are conscientious and have a sense of responsibility.
If you’re still toying with the idea of hiring a remote employee, take the leap – scary as it may be. Try it with one employee, keeping track of the resources you invest and the payoff and only then can you be certain of the benefits of hiring remote workers.
Author bio: Sharon Koifman believes every company, from the biggest enterprise to the newly-launched garage startup, should have access to world’s top talent. That’s why he used over 10 years of experience in tech industry recruitment & HR to create DistantJob. His unique recruitment model allows DistantJob’s clients to get high quality IT experts working remotely at a fraction of the usual cost - with no red tape and within two weeks.