For employers wanting to attract the best candidates, it’s crucial to have a thorough understanding of the motivations that drive them. Having a complete picture of what candidates want and fully knowing the advantages and disadvantages of offering remote positions is essential if companies want to tap into the talent market to the greatest extent.
This article contains highlights from a webinar hosted by Insight Recruitment’s CEO, Kinga Wilson and our Specialist Biotech Search Consultant, Dr. Kristi Ambroz, Ph.D., a 20-year veteran in hiring and managing team members for the global Biotech and Life Sciences industry.
So, what are some of the advantages of offering candidates remote working opportunities?
Work From Any Location
When candidates work remotely, they are essentially digital nomads. What this means in practical terms is that employees have the choice and freedom to work anywhere they want. So, what does this look like practically? For example, your employee could take an extended vacation by doing their work during the daytime and then going straight into holiday mode during their off hours. This, in turn, extends the vacation for the rest of the family but allows your employees to keep their work obligations. But the real key to success is to have a team member who is entirely in tune with their position enough to know which tasks are suitable to work in public places and which to avoid. Once your candidate fully understands their role, they can easily make these distinctions and venture off-site for a couple of hours if needed.
No Long Commute Times
Ditching the daily commute is one of the most significant game-changers for talent and is why so many top-level candidates want to work remotely. Commute times can vary significantly depending on where candidates live and work. For example, it’s not uncommon to see daily commutes of between 45 minutes to an hour! However, even an average 30-minute one-way commute can equate to five hours a week and approximately 20 hours a month, which could be used for more productive tasks. By cutting out the commute and offering your candidates the opportunity to work remotely, you’re essentially giving your workforce more time to spend as they like.
One of the most significant benefits of offering candidates remote opportunities is increased productivity. By allowing employees to work from home, they will experience fewer interruptions than working on-site. In fact, according to research published in an article via Ladders, remote workers were found to be far more productive, despite taking slightly longer breaks (four minutes longer) than office workers. The study also found that remote employees work an extra 1.4 more days every month than those working in an office. That’s pretty significant!
Increased Engagement and Retention
An increase in productivity ultimately means that employees can reach their goals quicker and more effectively. This can make staff feel more satisfied and optimistic about their job. According to Gallup‘s State of the American Workplace Report, optimal engagement boost occurs when employees spend 60% to less than 80% of their working week – or three to four days a week – working off-site. This pattern emphasizes how remote work has the most significant returns on engagement when employees maintain some degree of balance. They work from home or off-site most of the time but still have an opportunity to get some face-to-face time with managers and co-workers.
Health and wealth are synonymous. If you don’t have your health, you don’t have much. Likewise, everyone knows that a healthy employee contributes better to the company’s wealth. When working remotely, employees have the freedom to stay on track with their mental and physical health goals. For example, employees can attend virtual fitness classes or go for a jog during their lunch break. Those who don’t officially work out have the freedom and flexibility to tackle small projects during work breaks, such as gardening or cleaning.
Better Work-Life Balance
Offering remote working opportunities can drastically improve your staff’s work-life balance too. This is especially true of the high achievers in your organization who put their heart and soul into their work and can be prone to burnout. When employees work remotely, they have more time in their day. So, they can still work out, tackle a small project, or simply do some household chores. When working in a hybrid role, many candidates find that they are much more engaged while at the office and at home because they can maximize their time in both places more effectively. Just knowing that they have more time free ultimately gives them more space in their life to think, plan and work.
Remote working is linked to increased happiness. A study of 12,455 respondents conducted by Tracking Happiness found that the ability to work remotely increases employee happiness by as much as 20%. They also found that millennials’ satisfaction increased the most due to working remotely. One contributing factor to this is commute time. The data showed employee happiness decreased as commute times increased, and work happiness sharply declined as commute times increased beyond one hour.
With today’s economy, anywhere you can save a dollar is beneficial. Employees who work remotely no longer need to commute, meaning that the amount spent on fuel is decreased – not to mention car maintenance, wear and tear, and even the reduction in mileage makes insurance costs less. According to Ladders, one in four employees quit a job because the commute was too long. In addition, remote workers saved an average of $4,500 per year on fuel alone compared to office employees. Also, depending on the role, employees could save money by not purchasing work clothes, dry cleaning bills, or even food.
What Are Some Challenges an Employee May Face with Remote Work Options?
So, what are some drawbacks of offering candidates remote working opportunities? While it’s clear that remote working offers many benefits, there are some potential challenges that leaders and managers need to be aware of in case they arise. Here are some common remote working challenges:
The Home Office Setup is a Personal Expense
A dedicated office area to separate work from home life can be a game changer for remote workers. When working on-site, office space is often designed and created by professionals to be ergonomically correct and help us work more efficiently. However, the burden of making that workspace shifts to the employee in a remote environment. The home setup is usually a personal expense and varies significantly from employer to employer. Setting up a home office requires two types of equipment: effective technology and furniture. Budget, physical space, accessibility and several other things may limit the remote worker when creating a functional office space.
Working More Hours, Making it Hard to Detach from Work
Remote employees often work longer hours even though their official work hours may not change. They gain more flexibility but work longer days than they did in the office. A study from Nature Human Behavior found that remote workers spent 10% longer logged in each week – that’s equivalent to an additional four or more hours weekly for someone with a regular 40-hour work week. In addition, 70% of professionals also said they work nights and weekends. In this study, they found two factors play into this; ineffective boundaries between work and personal life and worries about not seeming to work hard enough.
Diminished Networking Opportunities/Work Relationships Can Suffer
The manager and organization can help prevent this by making specific efforts to keep teams networked and engaged successfully. An example of this is to create a water cooler channel on your preferred communication platform. Here, employees can talk with each other during breaks and converse about non-work-related topics. Another idea is to have regularly scheduled team meetings with a specific agenda. Team monthly meetings can include reviewing metrics, celebrating successes, sharing challenges, and discussing the potential solutions to those challenges. Remote wellness initiatives are always a plus, such as a meditation program team members can do together or a fitness or wellness challenge via virtual team-building games for those who enjoy healthy competition.
It Can Get Lonely
We’ve all heard this; remote work can get lonely for some people. However, there are things leaders can do to help prevent loneliness for remote employees:
- Observe remote co-workers’ patterns. For example, are they interacting with anyone regularly in team meetings or other communication channels? If not, you might want to be concerned about them.
- Get remote employees together for events like our Insight Recruitment Quarterly Social. A video event can be done instead if you can’t get together in person.
- Pre/post-hire assessments are essential and can guide you in selecting team members who will thrive while working remotely.
- Spend time understanding what type of friendships your employees want to make, combining this with your strengths.
- Consider socializing with your remote employees individually when it won’t disrupt their work or customer activities. Make a specific effort to hear your remote employees’ thoughts and opinions as if they were in the office.
Remote Employees Can Get Overlooked Compared to Employees On-Site
This issue can have a severe impact on the organization. Employees who feel overlooked, forgotten about or like they’re not getting any career growth will not be loyal to the business. They will not work as hard and will instead seek other employment that meets their needs.
Some management solutions would be to have clear goals and objectives with remote team members that are regularly reviewed. This can be done by establishing weekly or bi-weekly meetings to review progress. Also, task boards help to provide a transparent and single source of truth for the status of projects and tasks. They give team members and managers a clear view of what colleagues are working on and how much progress has been made.
How Can Leaders Overcome These Hurdles?
While it’s not always possible to stop every issue, leaders should keep a few things in mind that can help reduce them and prevent them from becoming a big problem in the organization. First, one of the most important things about these challenges is that many top-level candidates who are used to remote working or who thrive in a remote environment often don’t have these issues. If they do, they typically know how to overcome them effectively. Secondly, it’s crucial to remember that all the disadvantages of remote working listed above can be significantly reduced by a good management/leadership team and by hiring suitable candidates for remote roles. Some of the best ways to do this include asking questions to assess a candidate’s ability to work well remotely and hiring talent that is driven to work remotely.
The remote job market is booming, and it’s only going to continue to grow. Candidates are demanding remote opportunities, and for a good reason – they offer several significant benefits for employees. If you’re looking to fill a position or considering making your current roles remote, think about why candidates are demanding remote opportunities.
At Insight Recruitment, we pride ourselves on our industry knowledge and candidate relationships. Get in touch if you’d like help tracking down your next star hire.