The nature of the workplace is changing. No longer is work constrained to sitting in an office from 9am-5pm, 5 days a week. Now, many employees are opting and campaigning for the opportunity to do remote work from home.
This presents both advantages and disadvantages for employers of remote workers:
Advantages of hiring remote workers
Improved retention – Enabling employees to work from home a couple of days a week will ensure you don’t lose them if, for example, they become a parent. If you allow them to work flexible hours then they will be more likely to continue working, rather than quitting altogether.
Wider pool of applicants – You can pick from remote workers from literally all over the world. This enables you to gain the cost savings of employing remote workers in countries with low living costs and lower salaries. You can also employ remote workers with specific skills, rather than settle for those in your local area.
Productivity gains – Without the gossip and distractions that naturally occur in an office environment, you’ll find that remote workers are more focused, can work flexible hours and can turnaround work fast. Without the daily commute eating into their day, remote workers will also have more time to dedicate to getting tasks completed.
More motivated staff – When pay is linked to performance of a specific task, rather than the hours spent at their desk, you’ll find that remote workers can be more motivated to turn in high quality work on time, every time.
Savings on office space, equipment and salaries – The ability to hire staff doing remote work from home means you don’t need to find extra desk space or computers whenever you need to increase the size of your team. You also need only pay them for the work completed, rather than an ongoing salary.
Disadvantages of hiring remote workers
Management – It can be difficult to manage internet employees and monitor their performance when you can’t physically see them or talk to them at their desks. If employing remote workers long-term, you could consider using employee monitoring software. Another option is to use Instant Messenger software to mirror the conversations you’d have face to face.
Skills and training – Training can be done remotely but is tricky to do as effectively as in a live group environment, which encourages collaboration between employees. Instead, you can try running webinars and video conferences to run training sessions.
Collaboration – You might think it’s harder for remote workers to collaborate on projects when they’re dispersed in home offices potential 100s of miles apart. However, tools like instant messenger, Skype and video conferencing solutions can be used to develop an effective remote worker collaboration strategy.
Higher telecoms costs – If you are trying to manage your remote workers through mobile phones then the costs of calls can mount up. Again, this problem can be solved with instant messenger and Skype, which both enable communication to be done for free.
Remote working is a pervasive change in the nature of how people work. It’s here to stay. Managing internet employees has its challenges but it can also bring many benefits, such as reduced costs, improved productivity and greater flexibility.
The key to managing remote workers effectively is to take advantage of the web based collaboration tools that are available to ensure everyone is working productively and are on the same page.
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