The remote work environment is the present and future for many organizations across the globe. While it is nothing new, the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated its adoption, making the reality of working remotely a viable alternative for businesses. With around 70% of the full-time workers in the U.S. having worked remotely (Source), employers have started adopting a new hybrid work model.
If you look at the statistics, the number of people working from home in the year 2000 was 3.3%, which grew to 5% in 2016 and then to 5.2% of the working population in 2017 (Source: US Census Bureau). Other data projections also show that 25% of all jobs in North America will be totally remote by the end of 2022. Having the flexibility to work beyond the traditional office premises has now become the mainstream. This shift shows that businesses are embracing advancements in technology along with changing employee values.
While this trend is projected to continue in 2023, many organizations are still dubious about hiring remote employees. If you are one of them, you might want to check this list to see if your business is ready for remote hiring.
Why should you hire employees remotely?
Once you have checked the readiness of your business for remote hiring, you should also know about the benefits of hiring employees for remote work, which are:
- Improved productivity
- Reduced operational cost
- Diverse talent pool from different geographies
- Business expansion across different time zones
Remote Hiring: Do You Have The Option?
Consider each of these aspects of your business to assess if you should hire employees remotely:
1. Nature of the work
Whether or not your organization is ready to hire remotely is determined by the nature of the work to be done by the employees. Although the ‘nature of work’ sounds like a common phrase, it is broadly classified in terms of product or service offered business setup, and operational structure.
For example, you may not find it easier to hire a workforce for a manufacturing unit remotely because of the nature of the business. However, employees for the marketing roles in a digital payment service provider can be hired remotely and can even continue to work from home.
When searching for the right employees, you may find several potential candidates whose interest, qualifications, and vocation matches open job positions. By considering the nature of work to be done, you will be in a better position to decide if you can hire them remotely.
2. Remote experience level of the workforce
Employees’ experience level working together remotely is an important factor you should consider to check the feasibility of remote hiring. If your hiring team has shown success in sustaining the business while battling the pandemic, they are most likely capable of replicating the same even in the current scenario.
When you have to decide between switching to the remote hiring approach or following a hybrid model, it does make sense to decide based on the proven track record of your workforce and hiring team. This is even more important if you have a very limited budget or time to train new employees.
Of course, experience is not everything. This is why the final decision should be based on various other factors, such as the potential of the candidates, cultural fit, and type of work, to name a few.
3. Employee preferences
As per the McKinsey survey, more than a quarter of professionals reported they would consider switching jobs if their employers return to a fully-onsite work environment. Their final decision to leave their current organization also depends on the availability of jobs in their niche and better compensation. But the related risk can have significant talent implications. With the majority of employees preferring to work from home at least three days a week, hiring employees remotely will be like the cherry on top.
Interestingly, remote hiring is a growing trend that has continued to exist since the pandemic. Since the cost of replacing an employee is quite high these days, employee churn is one of the most significant drains of business finances. The good news is – remote hiring followed by remote work or flexible work opportunities can help increase employee retention.
4. Collaboration requirement
The shift to remote work can have a significant impact on workplace communication and collaboration amongst team members. This can threaten overall employee productivity if not treated the right way. This is where the company’s policies toward collaboration play a vital role. By facilitatingremote collaboration, you can maximize the business performance to achieve company objectives.
While remote collaboration saves costs for the employees in several ways, you need to check the feasibility of the employer-side investments in technology. If the reduction in operating costs resulting from accepting remote work as the new normal makes it financially viable, you can think of your business to be ready for remote hiring. Another benefit of this flexible work model is the ease to bring in the best and brightest talent from across the globe into your team.
5. Business structure
Your organization structure is how you configure your people and operations to accomplish the goals of the business.
Irrespective of the organizational structure you select for a remote work environment, it is important to consider the reduced informal communication. So, the teams should be chosen in a way that you can make it work. Besides this, you need to ensure that the span of control is small enough to manage the teams in a remote setting with frequent communication between team members.
Lastly, it is also important to build a good flow of communication within the business structure to deliver information efficiently and with good transparency across the organization.
6. Tools and Technology
Similar to the differences between remote work and traditional office-based work environments, remote hiring also has its distinct requirements. Instead of visiting the office and interacting with the potential candidates, remote hiring teams require various digital tools to proceed with the hiring processes. Since every organization is unique, it is important to determine your business-specific needs at every step of the recruitment journey and select the right remote hiring tools to save time, effort, and money.
Other factors you need to consider while assessing the business readiness for remote hiring are:
- Integration of advanced tools and technology with the existing systems in place
- Ease of use for the hiring team
- Affordable pricing even if you have plans to scale up
- Customizability of tools to suit your needs
7. Security challenges
Behind the bright side of remote working, there are security challenges that every business needs to be aware of. These include weak backup and recovery measures to handle loads of data, insecure file sharing practices that can lead to security breaches, phishing emails, and fragile remote working infrastructure.
Allowing your employees to work remotely is highly advantageous. But this can put the business data and networks at risk unintentionally. The same holds true when you want to extend remote work to remote hiring for greater benefits. In today’s digital-first world, it is essential that businesses like yours give serious consideration to remote cybersecurity policies and best practices. It should be further paired with raised cyber security awareness to protect your business from unethical hacking attempts.
8. Tools & processes to monitor employee productivity
Whether your team works remotely or in the office, maintaining productivity is central to business growth. Irrespective of the industry and products/services you offer, the business will only experience positive growth when your employees are productive in their roles. Hence, keeping a track of their productivity is essential.
In the remote work environment, this can be done with the help of time tracking tools and applications for reporting, deadline setting, invoicing, and similar other tasks. On the managerial front, it is crucial to set clear deadlines for time-bound activities and provide feedback to the employees regularly to highlight their strengths and areas for improvement.
9. Communication & escalation process
As your employees continue to work remotely, the lack of face-to-face communication with the HR team may dissuade many of them from raising concerns about work. Escalating a problem or filing a complaint may become harder without the safe space of a physical office. Hence, your HR team needs to work harder in the remote world to be visible and accessible to all employees to make them feel heard.
Besides this, your organization should be ready to ensure updated employment agreements to reflect work-from-home arrangements. The remote complaint process should be strengthened for employees to reach out to HR with the expectation of a fair and quick response.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a significant shift towards remote work, with 26% of U.S. employees working remotely as of 2022, a four-fold increase from pre-pandemic levels, and it is anticipated that by 2025, up to 36.2 million Americans will be working remotely. The benefits of remote work include less stress (57%), improved morale (54%), fewer sick days (50%), and better work-life balance (75%), which has resulted in 68% of Americans desiring fully remote work. Despite some disadvantages, employers have realized the potential cost savings and increased productivity associated with remote work, leading experts to predict continued growth in this area.
Remote hiring is a reality that is expected to stay well into the future. Accommodating a remote workforce will require a rework of employee policies and hiring processes to build a strong team that collaborates well to achieve business goals. It might sound like a herculean task, but it is worth the long-term benefits.
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