Hiring Remote Workers? How to Effectively Offer Employees Flexibility in Their Work
The coronavirus pandemic drove many employers to institute work-from-home policies for the first time ever. Two years later, significant numbers of firms are making those changes permanent. In early 2022, Pew Research found that 59% of U.S. workers who say their jobs can mainly be done from home are working from home all or most of the time. This is a stark increase over the 23% who say they teleworked frequently before the coronavirus outbreak.
Two years ago, most remote workers said they were working from home because their offices were closed; but today, most say they are remote by choice. As employees’ work preferences have changed, and an ongoing labor shortage continues, many employers are working to boost recruitment and retention, and overall employee satisfaction, by making long-term remote work feasible.
However, it’s not as simple as just sending employees home. That may have been necessary during the pandemic, but moving forward, successfully structuring remote work requires more planning. Before you hire an employee to work remotely or allow current employees to work remotely, consider the following steps.
Understand Why Remote Work is Important
Many employees and job candidates place a high value on the opportunity to work remotely. Work/life balance is a value that is extremely important to Davie Kaplan, CPA, PC and offering employees flexibility is a great way to manage work/life balance, especially during busy times of year Remote work options have become an increasingly popular way to offer employee flexibility, without disruption to workload or productivity, when appropriate planning and clear policies are in place.
Traditionally, some employers focused on providing flexibility through generous paid time off (PTO). But when employees have a heavy workload, they often simply avoid using their PTO. Instead, by finding ways to incorporate remote work, those employees can get their work done while enjoying some flexibility in their days.
Remote work can also benefit employers by broadening the pool of candidates. Even if you plan to offer hybrid options rather than fully remote work, you may be able to attract candidates from a wider geographical area. If candidates know that they’ll only have to commute to the office once or twice a week, they may be more willing to accept a longer commute.
Conduct a Needs Analysis
Each employee’s needs and each position is unique, and there may not be a one-size-fits-all policy that will work for everyone. Instead of applying a blanket approach, conduct a needs analysis by department or position to determine which positions could succeed remotely, and how often they might work remotely or in the office.The required tasks and needs for in-office time may be different for various industries and various positions within the same company. Take time to drill down into each position, and determine the needs of that position, as well as the employee in the position, and whether the person is able to efficiently manage their work outside of the office on a regular basis When you have decided which positions are conducive to remote work, you can develop a list of potential remote or hybrid positions. If the person in each position is a fit for remote work, you’ll be ready to move forward with offering that flexibility.
Create a Remote Work Policy
During the pandemic, many employers simply switched to remote work out of necessity. But if you’re planning to institute long-term remote work opportunities, take time to develop a policy that will govern those opportunities.
Your policy should include a list of positions that can potentially work remotely or on a hybrid schedule. At Davie Kaplan, we have many different positions and our policy ensures that every employee has the ability to have a hybrid remote schedule, when feasible, depending on the aspects of the particular job, etc. It is important that a policy outlines the various guidelines required for each position.
Once a remote work policy is established, it is important that the employee adhere to a consistent schedule for the days they will be in the office and at home. Understanding an employee’s location on a given day is important to a successful hybrid work arrangement. oSome suggested remote work policy guidelines include:
- A list of the positions (or types of positions) that may qualify for remote or hybrid work.
- Requirements for scheduling, such as specified hours remote workers should be working or specified days hybrid workers should be in the office.
- Requirements for new hires or others to qualify for remote or hybrid work.
Understand Technology Needs
If employees are working from home permanently or a few days per week, they will need technology setups at home that allow them to work productively. Before implementing a long-term remote or hybrid work policy, make sure you can provide the needed technology and security.
For example, you may need to supply laptops rather than desktop computers so employees may transfer from home to office. That way, they can access all their work documents and software while working from home, with proper security and VPN connections in place, and can simply dock their computers at their workstations when they are in the office.
Implementing a remote work policy doesn’t mean the policy is set in stone. It’s important to check in regularly with managers and remote workers to ensure that the arrangement is working for everyone. If employees are working fully remote, make sure managers are staying connected through regular meetings to ensure the employee is engaged and has the tools they need to be successful. Also consider bringing remote workers into the office occasionally for team events.
While remote and hybrid work are the future, and a great way to offer the desired flexibility that employees need, each employer should ensure that they are taking an approach that enhances rather than limits their and their employees’ success.