The rise of remote work in the past few years has led many SMEs to look at remote employment as a viable option for growing their business. Many companies, however, still hold reservations about the risks of remote work and whether their team can continue to scale up as the business grows. These are reasonable concerns, primarily because remote work (in its most recent incarnation) is largely unproven as a concept. Modern remote working has simply not been around long enough to prove itself as a solid model for recruitment. But that’s not to say that it doesn’t work. It’s hard to argue against the capitalist practices of old and the corporate structures which have developed over the past one hundred years. Judging by appearances, these practices are working quite effectively. The big corporations have all been built on these practices, so why should we try/trust something new? Well, perhaps because the new way is even better? Maybe you can grow your business even faster, with better talent and happier employees? So let’s dive into the many benefits of hiring a remote team and oust those concerns from the corporate era.
Here’s something we can all agree on. Saving money is good. One of the biggest appeals of hiring remotely for many business owners is the fact that it’s considerably cheaper than hiring a traditional non-remote workforce. The cost savings will vary depending on the nature of your business and can usually be seen right from the start of the recruitment process: Here are some of the areas where you’ll make savings.
- Office space. There’s no requirement to have an office at all if you’re hiring completely remotely. You can work from home as the business owner. If you still want to have a small team in an office and hire the rest of your employees remotely, you will still benefit as your office space can be considerably smaller.
- Office insurance. No office, no office insurance.
- Office equipment. No need to invest in desks, chairs, PCs, lighting, decor, drink-making facilities, chill-out areas etc. You may still choose to provide your employees with laptops (there are many reasons for this which we’ll discuss later) but this isn’t a necessity.
- Recruiting. Less time spent arranging interviews etc. The recruiting process can be carried out much quicker, leaving more time for building your business - which leads us to benefit number 2.
This is especially important if you’re a startup or small business. Recruiting is one of the most important aspects of scaling up your business and the speed at which you do it has a direct impact on your growth rate. You need to recruit but you don’t want the process to
eat into your normal business activities. If you struggle to find the right candidate and the
process drags on, the whole thing can become counter-intuitive and can actually slow
growth. This whole process becomes a lot more efficient when you hire remotely, however. Let’s break it down:
1. You submit a job to a remote working job board. The fact that your role is remote gives you a much larger pool of candidates
2. More candidates = more CVs and thus a greater chance of finding the right person for the role
3. You shortlist your CVs and invite candidates for a Skype interview
4. Carry out the interviews over Skype (or similar) at the candidate’s convenience. This can be outwith office hours. The flexibility allowed by Skype avoids the constraints of booking meeting rooms and working around the limited availability of candidates during office hours
5. Carry out 2nd stage interviews, again by Skype
6. Offer job to best candidate
7. Request references as normal
8. Provide introductory information via email and begin employment
You can see from above that each stage of the recruitment process is a little more efficient than it would normally be. These small savings add up, however, and allow you to recruit in a much more fluid manner. This also avoids the logistical problems of normal recruitment, such as arranging office space, office equipment and employee insurance etc.
As mentioned above, one of the other major benefits of hiring remotely is access to a larger pool of candidates. Finding the best talent is intrinsic to the success of your business and
thus a larger choice of candidates gives you more choice. This is especially important when
hiring for “in-demand” skills such as software developers. We’ll look more at sourcing talent in Chapter 2.
A battle has been raging over the past few years about whether employees are more productive in a workplace or at home. There have been several studies on this topic which almost all point to greater productivity from remote employees.The most famous of these studies was carried out by Chinese travel company Ctrip in 2014 where they asked 249 call-centre employees to work at home four days a week for nine months. They compared their productivity to an office-based control group of 253 employees. The results were a 13.5% increase in productivity amongst remote workers, along with financial savings and a reduction in staff turnover. This is by no means conclusive, however, and every role is different. Some roles are much more difficult to carry out remotely than others. The key to benefitting from this increased productivity is by structuring your business in an appropriate manner for the type of work you do and communicating effectively with your employees.
There’s a growing appetite for remote work amongst job seekers due to the flexibility benefits it provides. Small perks such as being able to have lunch with your family each day, wearing your comfiest clothes at work and avoiding the dreaded commute are far more appealing to most candidates than an office coffee machine, unlimited bananas and a ping pong table. Enable your employees to live the life they love while working hard to grow your business.
There’s nothing more frustrating to a business owner than spending months training an employee, only to find that they jump to a new job after a year. When this happens, there are lots of losses for the business. Not only have you lost an employee who has integrated into the team and become a valued member, you're also losing the skills and knowledge they’ve acquired for your business. You need to start from scratch with a new employee and it will take another six months to get them to the same point. This constant training cycle is costing your business. The valuable time you’re spending training new employees could be used on activities that grow your business. To continuously take on new employees as others leave will massively hinder how quickly you can grow.
Remote working doesn’t have such a big problem in this area. Remote workers tend to stay in employment longer than office-based workers. There are many possible reasons for this
and I would simply be theorising by suggesting what they are, but we can assume that
satisfying employment combined with the work/life balance that remote work provides is a big enough reward to keep employees committed to their work.
When you’re operating with a distributed team, there’s a much lower chance of the business being rendered inoperative by a power-cut or loss of internet connection. If one of your
employees suffers from a power-cut, the rest of the company in other areas will still be able
to carry on working as normal, completely unaffected. A centralised office can be completely immobilised by one of the above problems.
If you’re running a remote team across multiple time zones, you’re able to keep your business operational during the night (possibly even 24 hours). A customer support team can be strategically employed from various time zones to allow customer queries to be answered at any time of day or night, increasing sales and customer satisfaction due to shorter response times.