State of remote work 2017: the pros and cons of distributed workforce

Owl Labs’ recently published study takes a more in-depth look into the state of remote work. If you are a new or established business looking to go down the route of hiring a virtual team, this research will show you the pros and cons of remote recruiting.

According to Owl Labs’ recently published study, over half of employees work remotely at least once per week, and even a higher percent (65%) of on-site workers said that they would like to work outside the office at least once a month. Remote work is definitely on the rise, and it’s time to embrace it. As more and more companies are keen to establish a distributed workforce, it’s vital that leaders and managers understand how remote work impacts hiring, retention, and management.

Global outlook

When an organization truly opens the door to remote work, they start to think global whether they realize it or not. The survey which includes responses from 1,097 US-based workers found that fully-distributed companies were able to hire 33% faster, on average, than other companies. It means that if they are willing to hire remote employees, it will lead to a widening of the talent pool, a better fit of a candidate to the role, and a culture which anyway is more suited to today’s new ways of working.

The survey also suggests that small businesses are more open to hiring remotely. Numbers show that small businesses as twice as likely to hire full-time remote workforces as larger organizations. Thinking on a global scale, finding the most skilled and qualified candidates faster, and offering flexibility is one way the smaller players can compete with big businesses.

Retention challenges and the critical work-life balance

Intelligent employers always realize the importance of retaining the best talent. In recent years keeping talent has never been so important for companies. Owl Labs’ findings suggest that companies that support remote work have 25 percent lower employee turnover than companies that don’t.

Fifty-one percent of remote workers said that they choose the remote setting to improve work-life balance, and 47% wanted to eliminate the hassle and expense of commuting. As soon as you, as a manager understand that your employees need time and space, you’re one step closer to ensure they are happier, rejuvenated, more engaged and productive at work.

The biggest challenge

According to the survey, job performance is the most crucial aspect for managers when considering an employee’s request to work remotely.

At the same time, managers of distributed teams named cultivating company culture the top issue, and not measuring employee performance.

Tracking productivity and performance ranked lower than coordinating activities, sharing collective knowledge, and supporting career progression when they were asked to attribute relative weightings to the challenges of supporting remote work.

Seeing the unseen

One interesting finding of the report is that remote workers have 25 percent fewer career conversations on average than their on-site colleagues. However, out of sight doesn’t necessarily mean out of mind when it comes to remote work. There are a ton of tools that remote team members can utilise when maintaining communications with each other, therefore remote employees might not feel like they are disconnected.

As a manager, you can plan team retreats that inspire employees by combining work and fun, you can schedule regular conversations to update on progress, to provide opportunities to bring up and discuss issues, and to build trust. If it were true that employees needed to have a contact to be effective, then no company would ever expand beyond a single office site.

With the rising cost of real estate and shrinking workspaces, one thing is for sure: remote work is here to stay. Companies need to focus more on employee experience to build trust making employees happier and therefore engaged, resulting in being even more effective, no matter where their desk is.

The full state of remote work report contains even more fascinating insights about today’s remote work landscape. Read the full study and discover its detailed findings here.



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