Why More Small Businesses Are Embracing Remote Work
Wake up, make a pot of coffee, and start your long commute to the couch, kitchen table, or home office. This is what a lot of work days look like for people, whether they’re self-employed and home every day or part of the 70 percent who work remotely one or more times a week. Small businesses as well as big brands are getting on board, with companies like Amazon and Salesforce often seeking remote workers instead of in-house staff.
According to FlexJobs, this trend is only going to grow in the coming years. “Hiring managers anticipate work done by flexible talent will increase by 168% in the next 10 years,” their report states. The traditional nine-to-five job is no longer the only way to work. Here’s why small businesses are embracing the remote work trend.
Benefits of Hiring Remote Workers
A surprising 63 percent of companies have remote workers. There are a lot of perks for the worker, such as schedule flexibility, comfort, and lack of a commute. There are fantastic benefits for businesses as well, though, often impacting the bottom line.
- Remote employees are as productive, if not more productive, than their in-house counterparts. A big reason for this is because remote workers don’t usually come in late or leave early, and they’re actually less distracted at home than at work.
- Contractors and freelancers typically charge per project instead of per hour. That means that you won’t have to pay for downtime like you often do with an in-house employee who checks their personal email or goes onto social media during work hours.
- Remote workers cost less for the company because operating costs are so low. Companies don’t have to pay for commercial real estate for employee offices, for example. If you’re hiring true freelancers instead of just remote employees of the company, you don’t have to provide office supplies, internet or phone hookups, health insurance, etc. These savings can greatly increase your profit margin.
Drawbacks of Hiring Remote Workers
Every company is different, making it difficult to determine exactly how remote workers will affect your business. The question of productivity is a hot-button topic, with some leaders in IT — an industry you’d expect to embrace trends — insisting that their team be fully in-house.
- Having a dispersed team means you have to come up with collaboration and communication strategies to keep everyone connected and working toward the same goal. It can take a lot of time to find and learn the right tool for your company. The good news is that there are so many business tools out there that it’s definitely possible to find the one that’ll work for your team. With video meetings, screen capture software and easy ways to share documents, this doesn’t have to be an impediment to hiring remote workers.
- It’s difficult to determine how motivated an employee is when you can’t see them in person on a daily basis. While a lot of remote workers are more productive at home, there certainly are some that are going to be distracted or tempted to blow off work. This makes it all the more important to pay attention to quality of work, adherence to deadlines, and participation in meetings.
- It can be difficult to ensure security and privacy when you have a remote workforce. Your team will be signing in or sharing information across different internet connections and devices, which increases the risk of a security breach. It’s important to find the right IT solutions to protect information when it’s being used by remote workers. Many cloud-based applications are easy to use and scalable, while still being highly secure.
- In the same vein, if employees will be working on company-issued laptops or mobile devices, you’ll need to have policies and procedures in place for issuing devices, monitoring employee activity, and replacing lost or damaged devices. When it comes to the latter, a number of unexpected events can severely damage company property: simple accidents, natural disasters, or even an errant power surge. Have plans to get employees affected by these events back to being productive as soon as possible.
How to Hire Remote Workers
Small businesses have the chance to speak with potential workers individually. This is a much better way to uncover the best talent than a huge corporation that puts applicants through an automated vetting process. When hiring remote workers, keep these tips in mind:
- Set up some sort of personal contact. A video Skype meeting is great because it can create a rapport right from the beginning. At the very least, get on a phone call for an informal interview.
- Remember that you’re looking for someone who can work remotely, which requires different skills than a regular in-house employee. Ask how long they’ve been self-employed or if they have experience working remotely. Find out their work processes and if they have a dedicated home office or workspace. Ask about their availability and how they handle time management.
- No matter how much experience the worker has in the industry, remember that they’re still new to your company. It’s easy to forget that the person behind all those emails and shared files is an actual human. Give them the direction they need and the necessary training, just like you would when onboarding an in-house staff member.
Final Thoughts Remote Workers for Small Businesses
Small businesses should consider hiring remote workers either to round out their team or as a complete alternative to in-house staff. There’s a learning curve that comes with hiring remote workers, but the benefits often outweigh the drawbacks.