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Why Employers Need to Care about Remote Work

by Tara Vasdani, Canadian Lawyer

Employer’s need to care about remote work. Unless organisations address the remote work elephant in the room, they face the prospect of failing to keep up with the evolution of the modern workforce.

This week sees the Remote Work Summit, put on by Grow Remote, April 16-18, 2019. The Summit has crowds from across the globe joining in to listen to speakers from companies like Shopify, Workplaceless, and Distribute Consulting (which is the remote work guru herself - Laurel Farrer).

Today on the blog we unpack why employers need to take a second look at remote work culture.

A cultural shift

The workplace has experienced a sharp cultural shift over the last couple of decades. In a short period of time, remote work has changed.

Gone is the focus of remote work as an employee “perk”. Now, remote work is a valuable productivity tool that allows access to a large talent pool.

Recent media reports support this cultural shift:

·      As reported in Forbes, “Aetna”, where approximately 14,500 of its 35,000 employees do not have an “in-office” desk, successfully shed 2.7 million square feet of office space and saved $78 million dollars.

·       “American Express” self-reported annual savings of $10 to $15 million each year, thanks to its remote work options.

·      68% of millennial job seekers report that if a company offered a remote work option, it would increase their interest in specific employers and jobs.

·      76% of U.S. workers (surveyed by FlexJobs in 2015), indicated that they preferred to complete important tasks in places other than the office.

It is evident that, in 2019, remote work is no longer a privilege – but has become far more common and, as 2019 rolls into 2020, the Remote Expert predicts that the current shift toward “remote-friendly” workplaces will continue.

Remote work is more than “tech companies”

The demand for tech-savvy professionals now extends well beyond the software development space.

LinkedIn surveys show that general tech skills including web design, social media, platform management, and electronic organisation are amongst the fastest growing in-demand employment skills for candidates required by employers.

Once desirable skills such as basic digital literacy, which includes anything from fluency with email software tools and word processing, are no longer desirable. Today employers are demanding more complex skill sets from potential employees to help companies at expanding their global reach. Companies, and clients, now expect employees to be comfortable with all sorts of digital tools, even at the entry-level.

By 2020, Generation Z will comprise 36% of the global workforce. Generation Z are digital natives and have grown up in an internet-centric society. As a result, they are more comfortable with newer technology and also more inclined to seek remote or flexible working arrangements. With Generation Z coming at our workforce, it has never been a better time to adopt a remote working policy.

From our discussion above, it is clear that this is more than a fad. But, what are the real benefits for business to “go remote”?

5 Remote Work Benefits

1.    Remote work improves morale and happiness

Productivity is increased when an employee’s personal wellbeing is high. A happier, more balanced person is likely to put in additional effort at his or her company.

 

Several studies have found that in the generation of the “job-hopper”, fulfillment isn’t always related to pay or promotion. When a company offers an employee the opportunity to work flexibly, this equates to better work-life balance for the employee. More time with their families, and less time spent commuting helps employees save time and money.

 

2.    Employee productivity

One of the key reasons companies adopt remote work policies is to make their workforce more productive.

Aside from the time spent on commute, the elimination of water-cooler talk, distractions and the ability to create a personal workspace helps to boost employee productivity. Moreover, the trust developed by employers with their employees who work remotely, creates greater employee commitment, loyalty and autonomy. In turn this leads to better quality work.  

3.    Enhanced talent recruitment and retention

It is no secret that the millennial generation of worker values flexibility in the workplace. Companies that embrace remote working are perceived as being “in touch” with their employees’ needs. As a result, they are more likely to attract skilled workers.  Generation Z will add another facet to this ever evolving situation.

4.    Cost-Effective Solutions

Initiating a distributed workforce, or even permitting employees to work remotely some of the time each week doesn’t just save employees money on commuting costs, but it also leads to a significant reduction in a company’s business overheads.

Fewer people in the workplace means less office space. In turn this means less overhead for an employer.  A smaller (or virtual) office space means reduced rent under a commercial lease. Lower heating and cooling expenses and other operating expenses are also cut.

Some companies have embraced this to such an extend that they have replaced their office rentals with a virtual office agreement, enabling them to maintain a commercial mailing address with access to meeting rooms and day offices, without the long-term commitment or cost of a full-time office space. 

5.    Flexible working reduces attrition 

Flexible and remote work options lead to greater employee retention. Further, flexible and remote work also has been shown to reduce attrition in the workforce.  

Not only can employee burnout be avoided on a larger scale, employers report much fewer employee sick days and much greater employee engagement when they permit employees to work remotely.  

Employees allowed to work from home or other remote locations are often eager to prove the success of their remote working arrangement by working longer hours, delivering higher quality work and being better and more productive  workers.

Managing a Remote Team

As with any business process, boundaries, rules and regulations are a must to assist your distributed team run smoothly. At The Remote Expert, we provide legal documents and HR policies to assist businesses in adapting their workforces to remote work culture.

Through the use of well drafted legal documents, including employment agreements, remote work policies and health and safety checklists, we help you focus on the key aspects you need to adopt to ensure your team works well as a distributed team.

Are you ready to go remote?

While the benefits of working from home are immediately clear for employees, namely avoiding the daily commute and working to a schedule that suits them, the advantages for employers are also numerous.

A remote work policy can improve your company culture.

It may take time and practice to get it right but countless studies and real life examples demonstrate that it’s worth the effort.

More than 76% of the global workforce now works away from the office, at least some of the time. Remember that sending that email from your cab on your smartphone or logging on from home at night is also remote work and needs to be correctly documented in your workplace policies and employment agreements.

At The Remote Expert, we delight in helping you deal with remote work realities.

Contact us directly at www.TheRemoteExpert.com for more information and to get started on your companies’ remote work journey, we offer Do It Yourself (DIY) templates (Bronze service), DIY templates with a lawyer to check the information you input (Silver service) and a fully customized drafting service (Gold service).

The choice and level of service is yours - our Australian Products are here and our Canadian Products are here.

And finally, drop us a line to tell us how you work remotely, we love hearing how remote work experiences are working out for business or individuals!