I love the idea of working remotely. It’s a convenient solution for a variety of personal issues, ranging from lack of transportation to reduced physical mobility. And hiring remote workers is good for business. Studies show that remote workers are more productive, and it allows companies to hire the best talent available from a broad geographical region.
Plus, companies save an average of $11,000 a year on each remote employee. That’s a lot of money, but it’s only a drop in the bucket when comparing the costs of replacing an employee who quits because of a move or the need for a more flexible work schedule. That price averages 20 percent of the person’s annual salary!
However, before you start scouring the Internet sites looking for new remote hires, there are things you need to consider. Relying on off-site workers presents a unique set of problems. For example, when remote workers don’t have the proper software to work effectively, it can lead to misunderstandings and delays. Luckily, one of my favorite business suites, Office 365 Business Premium offers some applications you can use to solve most of these issues.
Problem #1: Your workers are spread out across the country. One of the greatest strengths of hiring remote workers is also one of the biggest problems – different time zones. If the time difference is only one or two hours, there’s not much of a problem. But, when your company is employing workers from the other side of the world, how do you overcome such a large time difference? One option is to arrange meetings for the time when the workday overlaps. If that’s impossible, then record meetings using Skype For Business. Co-workers who can’t attend a meeting can download reports from SharePoint or OneDrive.
Problem #2: Keeping in touch with supervisors, colleagues, and adapting to sudden changes. Goals and priorities are fluid. You can keep all of your employees up to date on new developments instantly with Office 365 Business Premium programs like Microsoft Teams and Yammer. Microsoft Teams brings everyone together in a customizable virtual workspace to chat, share ideas and collaborate on projects. Yammer lets you create groups to help your employees learn, share and socialize. Plus, it keeps everyone on the same page, even when they’re miles away from one another.
Problem #3: Accessing software and shared documents. It can be difficult to provide your remote workers with current word processing, spreadsheet and presentation software. However, with Office 365 Business Premium, the most popular productivity applications like Word, Excel and PowerPoint are already included and available anywhere your staff has an Internet connection. When employees use the same software, coworkers will never have to deal with frustrating compatibility issues. One of my favorite features is the capability to view and edit in real time with my colleagues. OneDrive makes it easy to upload and download any type of digital media quickly, easily and securely.
Problem #4: Remote workers feel isolated and separated from the company culture. Today a “workplace” is no longer tied to a physical location, but a digital space as well. Of course, this is a quite a change for older workers who are accustomed to going to work at a physical location with a high level of interactions each day. But for younger workers who grew up interacting with people thousands of miles away online, a remote work lifestyle is much more acceptable. These workers already have the experience creating meaningful collaborations and relationships online. Applications like Skype For Business and Yammer can help remote workers feel more like a part of a team by allowing them to interact and develop stronger bonds and trust.
I recommend to my clients that they consider hiring remote workers only once they’ve developed the proper framework for collaboration. With Office 365 Business Premium, you’ll get a complete system, ready from day one.