According to a recent report by the freelance employment website Elance, over half of all the small and medium-sized businesses they surveyed plan to fill most of their upcoming job vacancies with remote employees, with over 50 percent planning on doing so within the next year [https://www.elance.com/q/elance-survey-shows-small-businesses-taking-an-online-road-to-recovery]. Flexibility, scalability and productivity were cited as the main reasons behind the shift towards remote employees, along with the tax benefits and cost savings that businesses often enjoy when hiring remote workers and contractors.
The survey predicts that the trend towards remote workers will continue, with about 54 percent of the businesses reporting they expect that most of their employees will be working remotely within the next five years [http://www.cnbc.com/id/47815587/The_Great_Shrinking_Office_More_Companies_Hire_Remote_Workers_Survey].
Despite this trend, many businesses are reluctant to embrace the concept of virtual workers, citing concerns over supervision, productivity and lack of investment, arguments which are dismissed by many HR experts including Scott Edinger of the Harvard Business Review [http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/08/are_you_taking_your_people_for.html]. Edinger suggests that remote employees are actually more engaged, committed and productive than their office-based counterparts, while Bloomberg Businessweek reports that “some businesses can save $8,000″ per year, per employee by hiring remote workers to replace office-based staff [http://www.businessweek.com/debateroom/archives/2012/01/forget_the_office_let_employees_work_from_home.html].
Businesses and Remote Employees – What Works?
Whether or not your business can benefit from hiring remote workers depends on a number of factors, beginning with what type of business you operate. Companies that are heavily office-based are best suited to remote employees; jobs such as human resources, analysis, web design and content management, payroll and customer service are among the fastest-growing segments of the remote-based job market. If your business requires complete flexibility and workforce scalability to perform computer-based tasks, chances are good that you can benefit from hiring remote employees.
The Benefits of Remote Employees
Hiring remote employees to replace office-based workers has a number of benefits for both the business and the worker; companies can save on overhead costs like office space leases and equipment as well as insurance costs, since most remote workers function as independent contractors. When hiring remote employees, the focus is on the skills and experience of the workers rather than where the employee lives and how much office space is available.
Online Tools To Monitor Remote Workers
Most companies who use remote employees monitor their productivity using an online tool such as MyTeamMonitor.com. These web-based tools allow supervisors and managers to track the progress of their online teams and contractors using regular screenshots, log working hours and monitor keystrokes to ensure that remote workers are productive, regardless of where they work from. Online employee monitoring tools also help to engage remote employees by establishing an ongoing line of communication with their teammates, managers and employers.
If your business is considering hiring remote employees you are advised to start out small; begin by contracting out a specific time-limited project to a virtual worker such as writing a whitepaper, compiling a report or designing a website. This is a low-risk way to assess whether working with off-site employees is a good fit for you and your business.
Neil Bachand has extensive experience dealing with remote worker applications. Neil enjoys spreading his knowledge of remote work on various websites. To learn more about how remote work software can be implemented in your business, visit Myteammonitor.com.
Harvard Business Review: http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/08/are_you_taking_your_people_for.html