If there’s a single clear trend predicting what the business world will look like in the future, it’s the popularity of remote workforces. While remote work had been on the rise for years with the improvement of communications technology, it was still a pretty small percentage of companies that used a significant amount of remote workers. After the pandemic, everyone has been forced to face the fact that the business world is changing, and remote is where it’s headed.
I built my company to be totally remote in 2015, before it was very common. Building it that way from the start has given me an advantage during a time when many businesses have been faced with a transition they were unprepared to make. Some businesses were able to adapt quickly and thrive under their new structure, while others struggled either to implement the new system or to get on board with the idea.
For some business leaders, there’s a level of fear surrounding remote work—it’s not what they’re familiar with, and the business practices they’ve used for many years may not transfer directly. They may be afraid of the costs associated with the change, the upheaval it could cause by creating new systems, or simply the inability to directly monitor their employees and contractors. What many of these business owners and leaders don’t realize is that there are some incredible benefits to a remote workforce.
For many businesses, you don’t need to be together in person as long as you’re communicating effectively. Holding tight to the old structure of an in-person office, filled with cubicles where employees commute each day to work at company computers, can actually be damaging. The path of the future has made itself clear, and businesses that refuse to adapt to the opportunity risk being left behind.
While a completely remote workforce is not necessarily the best option for every business, many businesses can benefit from adopting some level of remote work. And those that can go fully remote may find there are more benefits than they’d expect.
- Wide talent pool
Possibly the greatest benefit to having a remote workforce is the way it opens up the talent pool. No longer are you limited to hiring from your local pool of applicants, who may or may not have all of the skills you would like. With a remote workforce, you’re able to recruit from anywhere in the world. That means your talent pool does not have geographic restrictions, allowing you to hire the best of the best. This can be especially beneficial if your business is located somewhere without a large pool of qualified applicants, but it also allows you to reach people with specialized skills who can contribute more to your team.
You can also use this wide talent pool in creative ways. For example, perhaps it would be extremely beneficial to have someone working overnight. Rather than hiring someone to work the nightshift, you can hire someone overseas whose regular working hours are when your business would regularly be closed. Or if you’re located in a high cost-of-living area, you can hire someone in a lower cost-of-living area who may not require as high of a salary to make a great living.
One of the benefits of a remote workforce that’s often overlooked is the amount of money it saves in regard to business overhead. Without having to provide a large office space for your employees, you can save a significant amount of money. This factor alone can be enough of a benefit for some employers to switch to remote. Think about the costs associated with an in-person workspace: the building, furniture, technology, utilities, amenities, and cleaning, among other costs. Switching to a completely remote workforce can eliminate all of those costs besides your own personal office space. But even switching to a partially remote workforce can help you reduce costs by reducing the amount of space required, as well as the features needed for each employee to work in that space.
I see a lot of businesses switching to partially remote work weeks, which doesn’t have quite as many benefits as a fully remote workforce. (For example, if you require employees to come in twice a week, your entire team must be local.) But a partially remote team can still be beneficial if you get creative. Perhaps the team only comes in for weekly meetings—if that’s the case, you only need a really great meeting space and can skip all the individual workspaces. Whatever your reason for keeping your workforce partially in-person, think about why it makes sense and adapt your workspace to it to save costs. There’s not much reason to have employees come in several days a week simply to sit at their computer and do the exact same work they’d be doing at home.
- Talent magnet strength
Employee retention is a major factor in a business’s costs of operation. Replacing an employee can be extremely expensive. Your team is your biggest asset, so it’s worth making your best effort to keep them. You need a strong talent magnet to both attract and retain the best talent.
Remote work is a major benefit that many employees desire, and for good reason. They’re able to skip the daily grind of commuting through traffic, get to work in a comfortable environment, and don’t have to live within a short distance of the office. Ultimately, remote work gives employees much more flexibility in their lives, allowing them to design their lifestyles around what’s important to them, whether that’s family, where they live, or something else.
Remote work builds loyalty, and it’s no wonder why. Employees tend to feel grateful for the opportunity to work from home and the sense that their employer cares about them and understands that they have personal lives that are more important than their work. It may allow a working parent to be at home with their children, a single person to have the company of their pet while they work, or someone with health problems to attend to their needs without taking as much time off.
- Efficiency and productivity
Many businesses are surprised to learn that efficiency and productivity tend to be higher with a remote workforce. It just takes purposeful communication to make it work, and tools like Zoom, Slack, Loom, and Asana facilitate team synergy.
Remote work generally allows employees to manage their own time, giving them flexibility to prioritize their tasks in the way that’s most efficient for them. This could mean getting up early to work and finishing earlier in the afternoon, or it could mean arranging your schedule to place all of your high-focus tasks at a time when you’re more mentally acute.
Furthermore, many team members find that they focus better at home, allowing them to increase their productivity and better leverage their time. And it makes sense—an office environment provides many distractions, such as coworkers stopping by your desk to chat and, in some cases, micromanagers peering over your shoulder.
Efficiency is also increased in that employees can take fewer days off for sickness, doctor’s appointments, caretaking of family members, house renovations, and other life circumstances that would require them to be out of the office.
- Business location
The same benefits an employee gets by working from home apply to you and your business as well. Without the need for a large physical office, you can locate your business anywhere you want. This can be advantageous in allowing you to live wherever you want or choosing a location that saves you money, such as in costs of operation or taxes. In some industries, it can be valuable to have a business location in a specific city, and it may be much cheaper to do so without having to provide an office space for your entire time there.
As the business world moves toward remote workforces, you can get ahead of the curve by reaping some of the benefits now. If you currently don’t have any remote workers, you can start small by allowing work from home a few days a week. You might be surprised to see productivity and morale go up among your team. And if you’re already partially remote, what’s the next step you can take to take advantage of the shift? By saving costs, widening your talent pool, and keeping your employees happy and loyal, you’ll have an edge on your competitors who haven’t switched to remote yet. With the right kind of communication, your business doesn’t need an office to thrive.
What’s keeping you from having an entirely remote business?