We can buy just about anything we want online. We can sell, too. We can communicate, deliberate, even take a doctor’s appointment via Skype in a hospital room. We can also hire a workforce from anywhere in the world, never having to worry about asking them to leave their homes and relocate. That’s the beauty of the Information Age. Not only can we find all the material things we want anywhere online, but we can find people, too.
This is good news for companies looking to hire remotely. Statistics show that the number of remote workers, both part-time and full-time, is growing exponentially. According to a Gallup survey of more than 15,000 employed Americans, 43 percent said they spent some of their days working remotely.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
In an article published by CNN Money citing a report from Global Workplace Analytics and FlexJobs, the number of telecommuters pulling in a paycheck from home increased 115% over ten years. There are several reasons for the shift, including the continued evolution of technology that makes working from home a more affordable option for companies. This, coupled with the current middle-class family model, makes for an ideal situation when hiring employees outside of the office.
Most remote jobs can be performed on a computer. From web design, branding, and freelance writing to content management, social media management, and other virtual assistant services, it’s clear that more and more people from all over the world are feeding the economy through information technology jobs.
If you’re considering a remote team for your business, there are certainly some perks to having a virtual team. But there are some disadvantages, too. Here’s a look at the pros and cons of hiring remote workers, and what you can do to find the most effective team to help your business grow.
The Pros of Hiring Remote Workers
1. You Save on Health Insurance Costs
When you hire someone full-time in-house, offering health insurance and other benefits comes with the job. Those benefit packages cost you. Knowing this, companies looking to cut financial corners can hire a few remote part-time workers instead. Some remote workers are already covered by their spouses and may be ready to negotiate a better salary in lieu of waving benefits. You save, they make more. It’s a win-win.
What’s more, those who work from home tend to be more productive, take time to exercise, and eat better. Therefore, if you do offer benefits, it seems that remote workers are less apt to use them as extensively. Thanks to the comfort of their own home and a flexible timeline, they’re able to take better care of their mind and body.
2. Low Overhead
Various organizations that practice hiring remote workers report notable decreases in operating costs. With fewer workers to monitor in a cubicle or office space, more money is saved on rent or lease. That means a bigger bottom line and happier management teams.
To cite an example from remote.co, an online resource for companies that want to utilize remote workers, healthcare giant Aetna was able to let go of 2.7 million square feet of office space, saving $78 million dollars. That’s a lot of square footage and money saved. Imagine what letting go of a little bit of space can do for you.
3. Hire The Best Talent
In the days before the Information Age, remote jobs were far and few between. That meant if someone outside of the state or country was perfectly qualified, it would cost the company thousands of dollars to relocate them. Today, geography isn’t an obstacle. Without borders, you can bring the best of the best together.
Businesses or organizations can have a designer in Australia and a social media manager in the U.S. working together on any given project. No borders will have comprised your choices on the hiring the best remote workers. With access to global talent, the dream team you desire can be harnessed and utilized efficiently.
The Cons of Hiring Remote Workers
1. You Can’t Manage Discipline
It’s easy to see if someone is working on a project when they’re right in front of you. But with a remote workforce, there’s no telling whether the designer you hired is working on your content with ferocity or binge-watching Netflix with his dog. Companies who hire outside of the office say that managing discipline and monitoring the amount of work done is a primary concern.
Some employers may go through two or three candidates before finding the right one. To avoid this, it is recommended that the hiring staff create a more extensive onboarding process. Thereafter, management should create a culture of trust and a stronger means of communicating regularly. Making your remote employee feel like they are just as important as the in-house staff greatly reduces the possibility of unmanaged work.
2. Human Connection Is Lost
It is the Information Age, we know this, but even with so many social platforms offering visual communication, human connection is vital. With a remote team of workers, there is no water cooler talk or office party. Morale is lost and team-building events are out the window. Without a face to smile at or cubicle to walk up to, the person behind the screen is often forgotten.
If you’re considering a remote team, experts recommend keeping in touch with them like you would in the office. If they can’t make the Christmas party because they’re on the other side of the world, sending a gift of appreciation is a viable option. Bringing them in a few times a year to meet the rest of the staff is a good idea, too. Whatever you can do to remind them that they are a crucial member of the team is a great way to maintain their morale.
3. Collaboration May Be Compromised
If John in Australia and Jean in the U.S need to hop on a Skype call to discuss a marketing plan, the hours between them may cause an issue. While time zones aren’t a problem all the time, finding remote workers willing to do a meeting at 2 a.m. in their time zone could present a challenge.
Upper management currently supervising a remote workforce should understand that collaboration is crucial within a team, and that without it, an employee’s sense of value may be compromised. Again, it takes honing the hiring process to weed out those who aren’t willing to conform to the culture of a remote team. Continued communication via phone or video can also help curb any issues.
Turning Cons Into Pros
Virtual team members don’t have to feel excluded. No matter where they are in the world, employers can offer various ways to make them feel like they’re still a part of the company as a whole. For example, if your company offers a free gym membership to in-house employees, extend the same courtesy to your remote employees. If the company typically offers free lunch to the staff on Fridays, be sure that your remote employees have ways to take advantage of a “meal on the house,” from wherever they are. Offer gift cards or a flex spending account.
No matter the location, extending these kinds of courtesies keeps workers engaged, healthy, and made to feel like they matter. And with more and more talent taking advantage of remote work opportunities, maintaining healthy morale is ideal to build a strong, happy, and reliable workforce.
Is Hiring Remote Workers Right for Your Business?
Hiring remote workers can be a positive and productive step for many modern businesses. But it’s important you understand the potential pitfalls as well as the benefits before you move your company in this direction. Take some time to work through each of the areas outlined above and consider if hiring remote workers is right for you.