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The nature of work is changing in an increasingly globalised and digitised world. Traditions such as the 9-5 office role or punch-in punch-out shift-work, while not exactly disappearing, are making way for the phenomenon known as remote working. According to a study carried out last year, 70% of professionals now work remotely (away from place of employment, e.g. home or any space with wifi) at least one day a week.

It’s not just an occasional thing either. Many roles in industries including tech, creative and customer services are now advertised as remote working opportunities that suit the flexible needs of today’s employers and employees.

Of course, not all jobs can be done remotely. You can’t have a dentist or taxi driver performing their duties from the other side of the world (although with the advent of AI and driverless cars, even these roles are likely to change!). But a substantial amount of professional work can now be done online, which changes how companies source the best available talent.

Some have been suspicious of remote working, saying it makes accurate monitoring and evaluation of employees difficult and is open to abuse. But employing remote staff, if done wisely, can deliver key benefits. These include:

  • The ability to hire from a global talent pool. You’re not restricted by geography so can look for the very best out there.
  • Saving money. One study by Global Workplace Analytics found that employees working from home for just half their hours can save the company around $11,000 a year in costs.
  • Increased employee productivity. According to one study, remote workers in one study are around 35-40% more productive than office-based workers.
  • Remote working can lower stress and boost morale, which leads to a more engaged workforce.

There are inevitable trade-offs, as managing remote staff and disseminating company culture is not as straightforward, but it could be worth thinking about if you’re looking to reduce overheads or gain a competitive advantage.

Tips on finding good remote employees

  • Know what skills and characteristics to look for – you’ll have your own list of required attributes, but remote workers need to be able to demonstrate top-level skills in communication, organisation, self-motivation, reliability and dealing with feedback.
  • Advertise on social media – if you want to maximise your reach and attract the best out there, don’t just rely on job boards and recruitment sites. Many skilled workers are now finding jobs through social media and networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
  • Test first and then screen – if you’re pitching to a global talent pool, you could end up with hundreds (or thousands!) of applicants, which can mean a huge pile of CVs or application forms. Speed things up by designing a tailored online skills test that can be sent to applicants as a first stage. You can then cream off the top scorers and start interviewing.
  • Show you know what you’re doing – get au fait with remote management software so that candidates will feel confident in working for you. You’ll need it once you start employing anyway! Programmes such as Slack, Zoom and Trello can help with communication and managing tasks.
  • Offer accountability and company culture – if you want long-term relationships with remote employees, you’ll need to get a level of buy-in so think about what you can offer in terms of working conditions and benefits. At the same time, be clear about expectations and requirements from the start.

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