Remote working. Is it the preserve of the fabled ‘digital nomad’ or can it work for your business? It’s a thorny topic amongst many an HR manager, but it could be just the tonic to improve your organisation’s productivity and employee satisfaction.

The best of the best

Hiring from anywhere means breaking free from the talent pool in your local area and gaining access to some of the world’s – not just your city’s – most accomplished workers.

While you may be surrounded by talented people, there’s no arguing with the fact that widening the scope for your prospective hires means getting access to some of the best people out there. Instead of relying on finding perfect employee within an hour’s drive of your office, taking matters into your own hands means that you can seek out the best that the planet has to offer. 

Flexibility means productivity

It may seem like a contradiction, but giving people more freedom often means that they work harder and more efficiently. Why? Jason Fried, co-founder of 37signals, has this to say:‘People work best at different times, and remote work gives them the flexibility to be as productive as possible as a result.’

There’s a reason that the phrases ‘early bird’ and ‘night owl’ exist. Some people are wired to work better in the morning, others in the wee hours of the night. It’s also important to remember that the office may not be the ideal workspace for every employee. Some prefer the quiet of a library, others the hubbub of a café. Giving people the choice means that they can create the conditions they need to do fantastic work.

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Trusting your employees with the freedom to work on their terms means they’ll get more work done, and get it done to a better standard. Remote working frees people from the nine-to-five and puts the management of their time into the hands of the person that knows it best – themselves.

Save time, money, and misery

Release your employees from the purgatory of commuting and you’ll see your organisation’s morale skyrocket. Commuting has been linked to a laundry list of illnesses and discomforts, and by removing it from your employees’ lives you’ll be boosting their health and happiness. 

The thought-leaders at 37signals have something to say about the importance of cutting the commute. They comparethe fact that the average commuter can spend up to 400 hours commuting each year to the 400 hours it took them to build their most popular program, Basecamp – letting the numbers speak for themselves.

Giving your employees freedom from the commute means that it’s easier for them to achieve a fantastic work/life balance without sacrificing productivity. 

The tools to make it work

To make successful remote working a reality, it’s crucial that your organisation has a set of tools to make communication and productivity work from a distance. 

Some sort of ‘to-do’ tool is instrumental in making virtual projects possible. In many cases, employees will be more aware of what’s going on at work, as they’ll be able to see what co-workers are doing and keep a record of their completed, current and upcoming tasks. It’s no surprise that Basecampis the project management tool that we use at Turbine.

A program like Slack offers a less formal way for employees to connect with each other and interact throughout the workday, ensuring that the ‘loneliness factor’ some remote workers fear is kept at bay.

Meetings don’t have to suffer from the distance, either. Online video and audio calling programs like Skype or RingCentral make it easy to sit down for a ‘face-to-face’ with employees and clients. Programs like this have the added benefit of cutting down on interruptions at the workplace, which can damage employee concentration and causes massive time inefficiency. Scheduling online meetings rather than impromptu gatherings throughout the day means it’s easier for people to plan their work with the knowledge that it won’t be interrupted. 

Meeting your organisation’s HR needs without in-person contact may seem impossible, but, employing the kind of technology offered by Turbine to manage expenses, time off, purchase orders and HR records could actually make it easier than ever. By eliminating paperwork and making the switch to digital, you can streamline your entire HR process, doing away with stacks of paper in favour of easy-to-access digital records.

Keep an eye on culture

To make remote working sustainable, you need to pay attention to your organisation’s culture. This means creating a mission statement and identity for your company that reflects who you are, as well as defining the ways in which employees interact.

Build remote working into this culture. Address the specifics that arise with telecommuting employees and you’ll safeguard against future discontent and confusion. It’s important to involve everyone in this conversation, as those that work from afar can often feel that they are given less attention than their office-based counterparts. If everyone has a say in creating your organisation’s personality, they’re more likely to feel heard and stay loyal.

Hiring from anywhere means getting the best anywhere. Match this with increased productivity and streamlined HR management, and remote working will transform your business for the better. It’s something that more organisations are beginning to realise, with 63 percent of employers now reaping the rewards. Take it from Jason Fried: ‘Remote work is here, and it’s here to stay. The only question is whether you’ll be part of the early adopters…or the laggards.’

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