With everyone hunkered down in self-quarantine, the value of remote professionals who know how to thrive in a work-from-home environment has never been clearer. But although it may not feel like it in this particular moment, given that our individual lives and greater communities have changed so dramatically in so short a time, the novel coronavirus pandemic will come to an end, and most workers will return to a more traditional office environment. But it’s also possible that there are good lessons to take out of this awful situation, including one about the ever-increasing value of work-from-home employees.
For many businesses, our current predicament—terrible as it is—may also function as a learning opportunity that can lead to some smart pivots, including a turn towards more remote employees and away from traditional office structures. Here are some of the myriad advantages we see to keeping a remote workforce after the pandemic has passed:
This isn’t just our opinion—it’s been studied. In a paper published by Stanford economics professor Nicholas Bloom, employees who work from home were more engaged, took fewer sick breaks, and were 13.5% more efficient.
And while it’s hard to place “happiness” on a metric, these professionals were also 50% less likely to quit their jobs, and chose to self-report higher job satisfaction than their peers.
According to Global Workplace Analytics, a typical employer can save an average of $11,000 per half-time telecommuter per year. That’s due to lower real estate costs, but also reduced absenteeism, turnover, better disaster preparedness, and overall increased productivity.
But let’s not dismiss those lower real estate costs—if a company can move to a fully remote structure, that’s a lot of money saved.
“If they can figure out how to do it properly, a remote workforce will save companies so much money on overhead,” says Bryan Driscoll, founder of Think Big SEO Marketing. “All the skyscraper buildings, computers, cubicles… all of those costs just go away.”
Remote workers have figured it out, says Chad Keller, cofounder of MarketerHire, who has been working remotely for over eight years as a performance marketer and CEO of the marketing agency GrowthStackers.
“Right now, unfortunately, everyone is being forced into remote work,” Keller says. “But the truth is, some of the best marketing professionals have chosen to be remote for years now. In my experience, you can hire better-quality workers remotely because these people have figured it out. They were the first to take the risk, they’re opting to live the lifestyles they want, they’re happier people, and they’ve figured out how to work remotely so they’re less institutionalized and think more creatively.”
Remote workers aren’t set on one particular set of practices and are often less dogmatic than those who have been in-house for many years. “Remote marketers have worked with tons of different companies,” Keller says. “This means they’re used to a wide range of systems—Asana, Basecamp, whatever—they’re just more exposed to different software, and they’re typically more open to change generally. From a tech standpoint, they usually know a lot more because they’ve been exposed to a lot more, and from a personality standpoint, they tend to be open to a lot more.”
Remote workers who have learned how to succeed at home aren’t trying to slack off. Given a good management structure, clear goals, and strong communication, they’re the types who get their work in whether someone can check in on them or not.
“Generally speaking, you just have to make sure you have the right people,” Driscoll says. “If you have to babysit people too much, you’ve got the wrong people. You want employees who are trying to grow, collaborate, and move towards the same goals with you.”