Working from home isn't exactly a new concept. Employees in a wide variety of industries have taken on and enjoyed partially and fully remote roles for decades, although the rapid development of digital technology has expanded possibilities in more recent times.
Remote work served as a solution to one of the most vexing problems for businesses during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic: keeping employees safe from potential infection while allowing them to continue to work. While not all business could implement 100% work-from-home policies for every staff member, due to the need for the physical presence of employees in some roles, many organizations moved those who could work remotely out of their offices.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues and — hopefully — begins to wind down thanks to the development and distribution of vaccines, businesses have to consider their telecommuting policies and rules now and in the future.
Building an effective remote work strategy
"Flexibility is increasingly important to job seekers."
Outside of its valuable role in limiting the potential for exposure and infection during public health crises, telecommuting can be an attractive option in general for candidates and employees. The benefits of eliminating a commute from some or all workdays are clear: money and time are saved, and the lack of a commute doesn't have a direct impact on the hours spent at work.
Flexibility is increasingly important to job seekers. While financial compensation is always critical, benefits beyond pay are attracting more attention as well. Offering an option to work from home can help attract top talent, something that all businesses need to consider as they develop strategies to hire candidates.
Remote work should be considered in this larger context of aligning with employee and candidate expectations and desires to boost satisfaction and engagement. That means each company needs to also take its individual culture into account to craft an effective program and anticipate the potential, although mostly resolvable, issues that come along with telecommuting.
A policy that works for your business
No two companies are completely alike, so a specific work-from-home policy that performs well for one business may not offer the same results for another. This is one instance where your organization shouldn't follow the leaders in your industry. There are too many unique differences to account for.
Instead, build an individualized policy. Consider which roles can easily support part- or full-time remote work, or have already. Be cognizant of the differences between proactive and reactive work, and how to align expectations between company leaders, managers and staff about exactly what is expected of remote employees. Explore the options available to provide meaningful communication between staff working remotely, such as videoconferencing applications and text chat programs, and consider how these tools may impact the speed and quality of work produced. In many cases, it may make the most sense to base a work-from-home policy on a hybrid model, or allow staff to earn full telecommuting privileges after they demonstrate their ability to consistently complete their tasks.
In many cases, a fully remote work strategy for all employees may not be the best answer. Certain roles, teams and departments benefit greatly from the ability to work together in person without the delays and technical difficulties that are common when collaborating through digital means. Knowledge transfer, company culture development, new business development and similarly crucial activities are all supported by in-person work. Although they are possible through digital means, it can be faster, easier and more beneficial to complete these processes in person.
New employees and remote work
Remote work is an important part of attracting new hires, a valuable long-term consideration as job seekers consider their options. However, training and onboarding, immersion in company culture and the overall employee experience benefit from in-person interactions. An in-person environment facilitates not only face-to-face communication, but access to a variety of resources and countless examples of how a company operates on a day-to-day basis and how its values and priorities are expressed.
The physical distance between an office and a newly hired remote employee can reduce the level of familiarity and allegiance felt to an employer, which can then negatively impact turnover. Even when hiring a proven professional for a work-from-home position, and especially with less-experienced workers, an in-person onboarding and occasional meetings in and visits to the closest office can be valuable. Similarly, a hybrid model for working from home can build knowledge of and commitment to company culture while still providing valuable flexibility.
No matter how you formulate your company's policy for working from home, Beacon Hill is here to help you identify, hire and onboard the best possible talent for each and every position. Learn more about our services.
This content is brought to you by the Marketing Team at Beacon Hill Staffing Group.