Great Work From Multiple Places Is More Than a Remote Opportunity

Several years ago, there was an episode of The Office where the character Pam left work for an afternoon to ostensibly run errands for work purposes, and while she was out, ducked into a movie theater for most of the afternoon. While she wasn’t a remote worker, scenes like that reinforce the skepticism many people still feel towards people who are left to their own devices during work hours – that without direct supervision many employees will use the opportunity to do as little work as possible and instead waste their employers’ time and money.

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But like so much conventional wisdom, it turns out that it simply isn’t the case. In 2018, working remotely has become the new normal for many people and companies. The world is more connected than it’s ever been and it’s incredibly easy for employers to stay in touch with their employees and contractors, whether they be down the hall or in another time zone.

At Qount, we know this well ourselves. Our company is based in Plano, Texas just outside of Dallas. And while we have a number of people working right here in our office at Qount HQ, we also have a number of contractors and employees who work remotely. It makes for a good mix of people and expertise, allowing Qount to leverage that knowledge to best serve our clients and customers. 

So, what about your company – do you already have remote workers? If not, are you considering it? Like anything, there are still pros and cons to having people working remotely, which we’ll examine in this blog. 

Expand the Talent Pool

For a long time, the talent pools that businesses had access to was whoever was in their own backyard, and maybe anyone who was willing to move for the job. That worked to some degree for companies in big cities, but it still didn’t maximize the potential they had to pull from.

Now, whether the talent is in Atlanta or Athens, many positions are ably filled by anyone with a reliable high-speed internet connection. Of course, not every job is suitable for remote work. For instance, Human Resources positions should be in-house – you don’t want major company policy changes or layoffs delivered by a floating head on a computer screen. Any jobs where a personal touch is required are best kept in-house. But positions like copywriters, customer service, web design, and many others like those are all perfectly suited for remote workers. 

With the rise of remote work has come more and more options for finding people. Sites like Upwork are hubs for companies looking to hire workers from all over the world, allowing people to bid on jobs and companies to easily sift through the pool of applicants. The days of the classified ad in the local paper are over. The only roadblocks you have in hiring the best people anywhere is your competition and your imagination. 

Working in Silos

If your company is going to hire remote workers, it’s vital for a manager to make sure everyone stays connected, both in a professional and personal context. Even with teams working together in the same office, communication often breaks down and leads people down different paths. But in those situations, it’s easy to call a quick meeting or pop by someone’s office to get back on track. With remote workers, particularly if people are in different time zones, it’s not the same dynamic. 

Therefore, it’s a good idea to make sure the lines of communication always remain open, and there are tools like Slack and Zoom that make that much easier (and we’ll have more about those apps a bit later on in this blog). 

But it’s also vital that everyone, from in-house employees to remote workers, feel like they’re part of the team. To that end, remote workers can’t partake in a happy hour or a bowling outing, or even the idea of “water cooler” talk. It’s not as easy for remote workers to bond over the latest episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Without the ability to partake in face-to-face interaction, it won't be as easy for your people to bond on anything more than a superficial level, and there isn’t the same loyalty as might exist among teams that work together under the same roof.

Lower Costs

Adding remote workers can actually save your company significant money. With fewer people on-site, that’s less office space you need to rent or buy, which is one of the biggest overhead costs any business faces. Furthermore, aside from the office space, fewer people in-house means having to purchase fewer desks, fewer chairs and fewer computers that come out of your company’s budget. The electric and plumbing bills go down.  And depending on your policies and where your remote workers are located, you could likely face lower health care and insurance costs.

This article on allbusiness.com notes how those savings can quickly add up:
“Real estate is the most obvious way in which a company will save. According to an article on Sqwiggle.com, ‘a study sponsored by collaboration software company PGi showed that by switching to telecommuting full time, a business could save $10,000 per employee per year in real estate costs. Expand that out to a 20-person team, and you’re talking serious spending money."

Improved Productivity

While some still believe that people working from home will be less productive, there are many reasons to think the opposite may actually be true. Consider commuting – if you work on-site it can be a nightmare getting to work. Maybe it’s a snowstorm, maybe it’s a collision on the interstate, or maybe there’s construction, but there can be innumerable hours lost to time spent in traffic, not to mention the emotional toll it takes on your people. But for remote workers, the commute might simply be from their bedroom to their home office, and all of the sudden those stresses vanish.

Or what happens when you have a working parent on staff whose child throws up and 3 a.m. and can’t go to school the next day? Instead of burning a vacation day or stressfully scrambling as they seek a solution, they can instead just log on to work as usual and take care of their child during the day as needed. 

Considering the number of outside influences that may cause someone who works on-site to either be late, miss work entirely or be distracted while they’re in the office, there’s a reasonable argument to be made that there are more pros than cons.

No Slack-ing Off Here

We mentioned earlier the tools available for companies to connect with their remote workers. One of the most popular is Slack, a comprehensive app that can connect all of your employees with each other and keep everyone on the same page. 

Slack’s most prominent use is its conversation, which works like an instant messenger system but with greater features. Conversations can be divvied up among an entire staff, or people working together on a particular project, or in any way you see fit. You can also pull in clients, vendors or anyone else you work with on a regular basis. There’s also audio and video calling, file sharing and over 1,000 apps that integrate with Slack. 

Zoom is another app popular among business that has a number of remote workers. It can serve all of your company’s communication needs, with meetings, video webinars, collaboration rooms, instant messaging and much more. It has the capabilities to handle up to 500 video participants and 10,000 viewers, so unless you’re addressing the United Nations it should be more than able to handle your needs on that front. 

If your company has a strong culture of communication, there are many reasons why adding remote workers to your business can be beneficial. And if you supplement that culture with the right tools to facilitate the day-to-day needs of your business, it can both save your business a lot of money and open your company to a wider array of talented people. 

We know this first hand via our experience here at Qount. With a combination of in-house staff and remote workers, we can walk your company through the logistical ins and outs of the process, as well as the financial implications of making that move. 

Contact us today and we can start guiding you through the process of successfully merging people under your roof with people working elsewhere. 

Nicholas Miller