Whether remote work is the panacea for today’s biggest talent challenges is a question every business should think about before making a permanent switch to a remote operating model. When the pandemic began, millions of Americans took their work home with them. As the months passed, many assumed remote operating models would become a standard feature of the post-pandemic American workplace. Like the challenges of distance learning, business leaders discovered there is more to remote work than Zoom fatigue. Without the pressure of a pandemic forcing your hand, going remote is not a decision to be made lightly. In this post, Sayva Solutions CEO, Ryan Buell, explores some of the questions clients should ask about remote work and its impact on an employer’s ability to attract, engage and retain talent.
Is everyone going remote? Should they?
Once people had settled into the new remote routine last year, some businesses announced plans to make remote work the norm rather than an emergency exception. Last summer, a survey of 500 technology executives found nearly three-quarters planned to follow the lead of a few Silicon Valley giants to continue remote work post-pandemic. For many others, however, the luster of remote work dulled somewhat over time. Whether from Zoom fatigue or simply a fervent wish for a return to pre-pandemic life, a more recent survey by Upwork reports that we can expect significantly fewer people (about 1 in 4) to work remotely in 2021.
Can a remote work option attract more candidates?
While lots of jobs were remote during the pandemic, those that will continue to be remote generate strong interest from job candidates. In fact, the 2021 Job Seeker Nation Report found that 74% of job candidates consider remote work an important factor in their decision to accept or reject a job offer. The ability for an employee to work virtually expands your talent pipeline exponentially. Without geographic restrictions, you also have the ability to utilize talent from anywhere, allowing you to tap experienced candidates and consultants previously unavailable to you.
How does a remote work model help with diversity goals?
When you remove geographic limitations, you can tap into diverse talent pools that may have been less accessible to you in the past. Sourcing talent from a broader applicant pool allows you to build a more inclusive workforce.
How does remote work impact employee engagement?
According to Gallup, job flexibility increases employee engagement and that can lead to 21% higher profitability. Some types of workers are better suited to remote work than others. Many software developers are perfectly happy to put on their headphones and rock out code. although that’s not the case for all workers.
Can remote work reduce turnover?
According to career site Live Career, 61% of employees want to continue working remotely post-pandemic; 29% say they will quit if they can’t.
What are the most challenging aspects of employees working from home?
The biggest remote work pain points that challenge employers we spoke with centered around four key areas:
- Remote onboarding − When new employees join, how do you ensure they gain a solid understanding of company culture? How do you create a sense of camaraderie on a remote basis? Consider assigning a tenured employee to every new person to give them a dedicated point of contact when they are unsure of company protocols.
- Training − As any parent learned during the pandemic, distance learning is possible, but not necessarily desirable. So much of what a new employee learns comes from their interactions with colleagues. A formal mentorship initiative may help new team members absorb what they need to know.
- Managing performance − When you have traditionally managed staff based on proximity and line of sight, new norms must be introduced. Be sure to support your team leaders with additional training to raise their skills and their confidence in managing remote teams. Consistent 1:1s help ensure continual communication and feedback between a manager and direct reports.
- Culture − It’s challenging to get to know the team when you have a 5-minute warmup for a 30-minute call. It’s hard to translate in-person culture to a remote environment. A good starting point is a purpose-driven culture that makes it clear to employees where they fit in the bigger picture and how they can impact outcomes.
Overcoming challenges of employees working from home: take control of your flexibility
It’s no secret American workers have long wanted greater flexibility to better balance their work and personal lives. Remote work can provide that flexibility, enhancing your ability to recruit, engage and retain talent.
With so many decisions out of our control during the pandemic, don’t let your organization be carried away on a post-pandemic high. The rush to remote caused by COVID has taught us much about both the benefits and the drawbacks of virtual work. Whether you decide to switch to a fully remote model or follow the majority of office-bound employers who say they are opting for a blended model, be sure to take some time to think through the implications of a new operating model and how the change will impact policies and practices before you make the move.
As you work to achieve the right balance between work from home and in-office time for your business, let us help you attract the best F&A and technology talent to your workforce. And be sure to reach out if you have any questions about the issues explored here.