By Joe Issid
Monster Contributing Writer
I recently published a piece extolling the benefits of being able to work from home. Recent studies have demonstrated that retention levels among employees are higher among workers who are able to perform their work remotely. Additionally, attrition levels among these workers were markedly lower that those who work in a traditional office environment. As an employer, these are noteworthy conclusions that should factor into your recruiting strategies as well as your enterprise’s mid-to-long term plans.
Over the years, I have worked for several companies who shared a common problem: critical positions would remain vacant for extended periods of time due to scarcity of local resources. Needless to say, such vacancies come at a high cost for any business. These companies also shared the same policy of not allowing their employees to work remotely; all staff members had to be local and work out of the same physical location. Naturally, this puts a strain of any hiring department and decreases the possibility of finding a qualified person who meets all of the job requirements.
Attracting better local talent
Many employees have turned down promising career opportunities for reasons that are beyond the control of the employer. Factors such as long commutes or the absence of convenient child-care services are very common reasons why a local employee will decide against joining your company. As a hiring manager, it was always frustrating to be spurned by a strong candidate because of office location. And it was especially frustrating to lose out on a candidate for a difficult-to-fill position. Had I been in a position to offer these candidate the opportunity to work remotely, there is a good chance that some of them would have accepted.
Remote talent pools
What if geography was not a limiting factor? What if it were possible to recruit candidates on a national – or even international – scale? It’s not as uncommon as I once thought. In Canada, the amount of companies that allow (even oblige) their workers to contribute remotely has been steadily on the rise over the last decade or so. And this allows for companies to expand their recruiting radius dramatically and to find talent that was otherwise unavailable to them. But these recruiting benefits come at the cost of having to change long-standing corporate beliefs about the work from home model. And this is not a change that can happen overnight.
Today, a great volume of candidate screening is performed by phone as it is cheap and efficient. However, most companies prefer to meet their pre-selected candidates face to face to make an ultimate decision. Of course, doing so for remote candidates is unrealistic and is extremely costly. However, with the ubiquity of inexpensive or free communication tools, it is very simple to recreate an in-person meeting virtually. The cost to the employer is comparable (possibly even less) than a traditional interview. But the benefits can be numerous.
Training your remote staff
Again, the availability of inexpensive technology allows you to train your staff as if they were local. Face to face meetings can happen as frequently as you like and instructor-led training sessions are equally effective when performed virtually. Furthermore, you may discover that training remote employees will have a positive influence on your training documentation and resources.
Changing a corporate culture is both extremely difficult and can prove to be unsettling. Eschewing traditional business practices in favour of new, technology-assisted practices can be frightening and intimidating. But research is showing that Canadian businesses are foraying into these new spectra and finding new ways to gain a competitive advantage. It’s time to think about whether this is right for your business.