62% of employees have left or considered leaving a job because it did not have work flexibility, according to FlexJobs’ 6th Annual Super Survey. These days the option to work from home (or anywhere really) is top of mind for employees - in terms of their level of satisfaction in their current role and in their criteria when searching for a new one. A flexible work environment, that includes the option of remote work, is a major consideration for employees when evaluating future job opportunities.
The option of work-from-home days, or a remote work policy is no longer a work perk that HR includes in the employee benefits package; it’s become a strategy unto itself, that can help retain and attract the best talent, reduce overhead, and impact the business positively overall.
Employee turnover is considered one of the top workforce management challenges for HR professionals. And, a remote work policy is becoming one of the best ways to retain talent. Remote workers are more loyal to their companies than employees who work at the physical office space full-time, largely because flexibility and work-life balance makes for happier employees. Employers (including TELUS with its Work Styles program) agree, claiming remote work options have a high impact on employee retention. And, in a time when retaining and attracting the best team members is more challenging than ever, using remote work as part of your talent strategy can give you an edge.
Top 3 reasons for employers to offer flexible work arrangements: employee engagement, employee demand and to help retain top talent.
Source: Conference Board of Canada
The ultimate employee benefit
Remote work is tied to a better sense of balance, more sleep, flexibility, and even cost savings. With the daily commute eliminated, Global Workforce Analytics estimates the average employee saves $2,500 to $4,000 per year (due to reduced costs for travel, parking, and food).
Employees who work from home have more ownership over their own schedule, so they can balance family-life, fit in an exercise session, and include more downtime. According to video equipment maker Owl Labs, better work-life balance is a factor for 91% of remote workers in their decision to work remotely.
Taking a remote-first (or even a remote-friendly) approach to talent strategy also allows for a focus on diversity and inclusion. Not only do you broaden your talent pool by opening up hiring outside of your geographic region, you also allow those with mobility issues (or other conditions keeping them at home) to join your team and make an impact where they otherwise couldn’t.
Not to mention, the positive impact on the environment that remote work has—an increasingly important social impact factor on the minds of many employees.
Global Workforce Analytics also estimates that remote workers could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 54 million tons every year, and that's just if people worked out of the office for only half of the work week.
Ensuring your remote work strategy has your employees in mind
The benefits of a remote-first business has some companies convinced, but that doesn’t mean they’re automatically thriving as they make the transition. Those that succeed understand adopting a remote work environment can have challenges, especially if the transition is happening from a more traditional office space without any workflows currently supporting remote work. Giving employees the ability to seamlessly switch from the office environment to a remote one, is key.
For companies that are making the transition or struggling to keep up, there are several strategies that can help ensure your remote work program has your employees in mind.
1. Create a remote work environment that optimizes team collaboration
Many companies are starting with workplace productivity tools like Microsoft 365 or Google Suite. Because they're cloud-based, they're not only easy to scale, update and maintain, it’s easy for employees to access the files and documents they need from anywhere that has internet access. That means, employees can collaborate, make changes, and add comments to documents (plus see changes and comments from others in real-time) from anywhere. An easy, collaborative environment—that allows team members to work together regardless of location—is a key part of your remote talent strategy.
2. Empower your employees with a simple integrated toolset
The list of tools, solutions, and platforms aimed at helping make remote business easier is growing by the day. These tools help with key areas of business operations: communication, project management, collaboration, and data storage. But on the journey to building the best virtual team, many companies over-do it by reactively choosing too many one-off solutions, and quickly fall into tool fatigue when they aren’t integrated. For example, wouldn't it be great if you could use the same tool / solution to manage all your day-to-day communications and join meetings? It's important to streamline operations and simplify the experience. Your employees will thank you for it.
One impactful way to do it is by using a solution that brings all your tools together, like cloud-based phone systems for Unified Communications (UC). UC can deliver a single platform that supports all modes of communication – voice, video, collaboration and instant messaging, on your computer, mobile device or desk phone.
3. Have an awesome online onboarding and training experience
Employee turnover is costly and disruptive, and a significant amount of employee turnover happens within the first 1 - 2 months of employment. Starting a new job can be exciting and also daunting; whether it’s remote or at the office, make sure your new hires have a memorable first day and feel as welcome onboard. Set up a remote meeting to introduce them to the team, sharing some fun facts about them you’ve gathered in advance. Or, even consider using your internal messaging tools to write an intro where other team members can add their “welcome!” comments.
Beyond day one, ensure new hires have regular one-on-one meetings scheduled with their manager and other key team members. This will help them feel supported, and ensure they can ask any burning questions that might be preventing them from doing their work. You can also encourage external training and development from the start. Give new hires opportunities to access live online courses, and encourage attendance of online panels, conferences, and workshops. Remote workers are looking for more work-related training, something that can come up organically in a physical office space, but needs a bit of extra nurturing remotely.
4. Foster a virtual culture your employees love
With so many companies embracing remote work, fostering an amazing company culture takes more effort. Despite all the positive stats and feedback around working from home, many employees are missing the camaraderie and friendships that come from working in an office together.
This might seem like one of the downfalls of remote work. But, companies can still invest time into social and cultural events, trading the physical space for video conferencing. It may not be the same, but that 5pm virtual office happy hour does great things for your team’s culture. If video conferencing isn’t for you, there’s also new team collaboration tools built into cloud-based phone systems that allow you to create group chats / boards, based on common work or even personal topics, connecting and engaging team members no matter where they are.
5. Continue to build a stellar remote team by leveraging a larger talent pool
The first four tips will help lay the foundation for creating a remote workplace that puts your company at a competitive advantage to attract and retain great talent. By doing so, you’ve now opened up an entirely new talent pool to continue fueling a remote work environment. Talented and experienced employees want to work with team members of the same caliber, who they can collaborate with and learn from. By removing geographic constraints on job postings in your search for employees, you’re positioned to build a team that’s diverse, talented, and highly skilled.
When searching for new talent, businesses should use their remote work policies as a benefit that will attract applicants. List it on job postings and on the company website. More and more candidates will be looking for it.
As the world continues to change, the way we do business may be changed forever. This is an opportunity for businesses to embrace remote work as a competitive advantage to retain and attract the best team of employees, across the country (or globe). The desire to work this way is clear and here to stay; now is the time for businesses to set themselves up for success so they don’t fall behind. Attracting and keeping top talent will be impacted by how well your company can create a remote-forward business.
The best place to start is ensuring you have the right plan in place to make day-to-day operations and communications easy, and meet (and exceed) expectations of employees. From there you can work on attracting amazing people from anywhere in the world and fostering an amazing, lasting company culture—on and offline.
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