By Alex Pavlović, Content Marketing Manager, Qualio
In 2020, there was little choice: send your employees home.
As COVID-19 swept across the world from east to west, bringing government mandates and national lockdowns with it, traditional office life was disrupted, and while remote working blossoms even as the world returns to normal, perhaps irreversibly so.
Remote work is now about six times more prevalent than it was before COVID-19, and more and more office workers are expressing their preference for complete or partial remote work and changing jobs accordingly.
But that doesn’t mean your business needs to work any less effectively or efficiently than it did pre-pandemic. Taken properly, the growing demand for a remote work culture shouldn’t be seen as a collective ransom demand headache from your workforce. In fact, it’s a mutually beneficial secret weapon that can unlock a new chapter for your organization and its employees. Here’s how.
As demand for remote working cultures grows, answering the call can be a powerful boost to your recruitment and growth efforts.
Businesses are finding hiring difficulties at their worst for 15 years, and remote work cultures can be an instant remedy for the problem of sourcing new talent. How?
Consider that if your business operates entirely from a physical site like an office, you’re restricting your hiring pool to about a 30-mile radius.
- Give me your tired masses yearning to work remotely
This is all very well if your business sits in or near a large city, with thousands of suitable candidates on your doorstep who can reasonably and comfortably travel the distance 10 times a week.
But exactly by being in such an area, you’re automatically facing inflated operating costs, competition from dozens of other employers, and the perfect candidate with exactly the experience you’re looking for might be viewing your job listing, shaking their head and moving onto a listing closer to home.
A remote working culture explodes your hiring pool radius to the size you want it to be: national, international, transcontinental. In turn, you can pick the best candidates for your company — not the best candidates within 30 miles.
What about retention?
Consider the myriad benefits enjoyed by employees operating within a remote culture, as this infographic from the World Economic Forum illustrates:
Any business empowering its employees with the benefits of remote work, from skipping the commute to enjoying flexible autonomy, will naturally see a jump in morale and a fall in attrition.
In fact, Global Workplace Analytics found that 72% of remote employers agreed that they saw a high level of impact on retention.
What does all this mean together? Access to the world’s best talent for your role, and higher stickiness, loyalty and happiness once they’re hired. What business wouldn’t want that?
On top of that, the traditional criticisms of remote work — lonely, atomized, disruptive to cohesive company culture — can be easily overcome with dedication and conscious effort.
I work for a business that embraced remote work even before 2020; this has made Qualio a useful lesson to me about how a remote culture should be built, lived and breathed.
Alongside our core work of providing eQMS software to the life science world is a bundle of remote cultural initiatives led by our People team, such as:
- Emphasis on asynchronous work to knit teams across time zones
Mechanisms for non-work chat as much as business talk, with Slack channels for gardening, football, cooking, pets and more
Meeting-free Focus Fridays and frequent wellness sessions
Taking time to discuss personal lives on calls as well as work
Remote cultures are no longer something businesses scramble to piece together to cope with respiratory viruses — they are now viable alternatives to the office and, done properly, can connect workers and teams just as effectively.
“Efficiency” is a difficult word to pin down. At its worst, it’s overused management-speak that means next to nothing.
But it’s difficult to use another word when discussing the operational benefits of a remote culture, and its ability to trim the fat from traditional physical business models.
Not only do employees ditch the hours of time each week previously spent on soul-sucking commutes by car or train, but they also tend to work more productively, effectively, and yes, efficiency once they get to work than they would in an office environment .
Being undistracted and focused in their own personal space can have considerable effects on day-to-day work, as the time sinks of small office talk and watercooler trips are plugged.
And since most communication is consciously scheduled and diarised in a remote culture, employees can prepare beforehand to get the maximum value from every interaction, making meetings tight, focused, and rewarding when they do happen.
The financial benefits of this approach have been investigated in detail since the pandemic began.
Consider the compounded financial costs of:
- Office real estate and upkeep costs
- Lost time from superfluous face-to-face interactions slowing task completion
Sick days from:
- Stressed office workers
- Office workers taking time to attend to personal affairs that they couldn’t normally
- Colleagues hit simultaneously by an office bug
In contrast, Stanford professor Nicholas Bloom found remote workers less likely to fall ill and less likely to start work late (goodbye rush hour traffic), while the inevitable errands and non-work tasks of life don’t disrupt the working day as they would if you have to leave an office. The costs of a physical office, meanwhile, can be jettised entirely.
Naturally, this effect won’t apply to all your workforce in the same way — but while Professor Bloom found just under half of the employees estimated their efficiency was “about the same” at home as in an office, about 40% felt they were more efficient and just 15% felt they were less:
On balance: a remote culture rids your business of wasted time, effort, and cost and sets up your workforce for more focused and profitable work.
Whether, and how, your business unlocks and applies these benefits is up to you.
Qualio is a provider of eQMS software to the life science industry.