How Remote Is Changing The Workplace
by Chris Dyer
The impetus for the “grand experiment” in remote work, the COVID pandemic, is almost at an end. Remote workplace culture, however, is here to stay: in fact, not only have employees and employers embraced remote work culture with enthusiasm, but it’s already changing the shape of the work environment for the better. Here are intriguing ways it offers advantages to remote workers and company culture alike.
Location, Location, Location — Who Cares? It used to be that if an IT professional (for example) wanted to work for a top-name company, they would have to live in places like San Francisco, Seattle or New York. With some of the highest costs of living in the country, those cities take a huge bite out of employees’ paychecks. Now, however, many of these workers have a choice, and they are choosing to leave the big cities for less expensive locations.
Cost of living is a good reason to move, but quality of life (including work-life balance) may be an even better one. I know of one fully-remote person who leverages working from home to also do what she really loves. She’s a recruiter who is also a blue-ribbon equestrian, and she’s living her dream – day to day, in the open country 35 miles outside Seattle.
The upside for employers is that they can hire better talent for less by targeting markets where the cost of living is lower. My own business is in Southern California, where the cost of just about everything is high. However, my company has team members all over the country. Not only can employers save money this way, but they also improve employee engagement, and can draw from a talent pool that is exponentially larger.
Underutilized Talent Now Has Options This is a win-win situation for both employers and remote teams. For example, many companies shy away from military spouses because there is a good chance they will be transferred. As a remote employer, you don’t have to worry about this.
Even if remote employees are transferred to another country, you can make it work with much less effort than it would take to replace them. I’ve employed at least a dozen military spouses and I’ve never had an issue when one was transferred.
Another underutilized talent pool is people with physical disabilities. Not every brick-and-mortar facility has the accommodations, and even if they do, transportation may be challenging. At bare minimum, it could be an environment lacking a vital sense of belonging.
Not only can you engage talent that your brick-and-mortar competitors miss out on, but you also might develop a reputation for being a disability-friendly employer. Talented people with disabilities might seek you out.
Writing on 101Mobility.com, Brian Havens (2016) lists top companies hiring people with disabilities, including IBM, Procter & Gamble, Cisco and others.2 Good company to keep!
However, Havens states that people with disabilities are employed at about half the rate that non-disabled people are. There are, no doubt, many reasons for this, but one of them may be that these well-meaning employers don’t offer full time remote options.
More Video Time = Less Travel Time Another win-win. Traveling on the company’s dime is fun at first, but it gets old fast. It also eats up hours of productive time. Yes, an employee can work on the flight, but not while waiting in line at security or baggage claim. Jet-lag is another productivity killer.
A two-hour presentation may require 48 hours of travel time. But deliver that presentation online from employees working remotely (all-important body language intact), and it’s just another accomplishment in a day of successes, without the exhaustion and lack of concentration. For the employer? Thousands save on airfare, hotel accommodation, per diems and entertainment. The same even goes for company-wide, all-hands meetings.
Asynchronous Work = Always Open For Clients With distributed teams in multiple time zones, you can expand your availability to clients around the country — or even around the world. If you’re based on the West Coast, like I am, you know that your East Coast customers (and competitors) have a three-hour head start every day.
By hiring customer service or account reps in different time zones, you can be sure your company is always standing by to respond, regardless of who’s already enjoying happy hours. In a similar example, I know of a CEO who also was based in Southern California, and she hired an executive assistant in Georgia. The assistant had access to the CEO’s calendar and email, and was able to respond to many requests while the CEO was still asleep.
The grand experiment is just starting, and I am looking forward to the new ideas that will continue to emerge. If you’re interested in being part of the ongoing conversation, join the Remote Work Movement on Slack. Sign up HERE. Together we can maintain the momentum and continue to learn and share.
References 2. Havens, B. (2016) Top 6 companies that hire people with disabilities. 101Mobility.com, 1 March. Available from: https://101mobility.com/blog/top-6-companies-that-hire-people-with-disabilities
Chris Dyer is the founder and CEO of PeopleG2, where he manages 30 full-time remote employees and 3,000 independent contractors. PeopleG2 is routinely ranked as one of the best places to work and has been listed as one of Inc.’s 5000 Fastest-Growing Companies. Having made the transition to remote during the recession in 2009 with stunning success, Chris Dyer is now a world-renowned expert on remote leadership and productive company culture.