The way we work is changing, it has been for years. The difference now is that the tragic world events of the last few months have accelerated the shift towards remote working. Fortunately, both employees and employers now benefit from remote working. For many employers, it can mean large reductions in costs, from office space to utilities, and potential staffing costs.

For employees the benefits include more flexibility, time, and money – just think about how much time and money could be saved each year without having to commute. According to research, the average British worker will save £44.78 every week by cutting out things like commuting and buying lunch out. With more than half of British workers claiming that they are happier working from home, remote work seems to be yielding some good results.

Here are some tips on how you can future-proof your business by hiring differently, remotely, and flexibly.

How hiring remotely can benefit your business

The benefits of working from home are immediately clear for employees, for employers they are not so obvious. So how could you benefit from a more flexible approach that gives your employees the freedom to work from home? Here are a few compelling reasons why adopting flexible working practices could boost your business.

Remote workers are more productive

Remote teams are more productive, they do more work in less time, allowing them to start new projects or spend more time on actual work, and ultimately improve your bottom line. What do we mean by “more productive”? We mean spending time on the right work. According to Rescuetime, remote workers spend 58% more hours on their core work and 256 fewer hours on communication, compared to office workers.

Giving your employees the option to work from home gives them the freedom to operate in a way that suits them. With strong autonomy through location independence, remote workers are 35-40% more productive than office workers. Remote workers tend to be more productive because they aren’t distracted by their co-workers, can take breaks when they need to and are self-motivated.

Additionally, based on a study by the University of Illinois, remote workers are eager to impress and often go above and beyond the call of duty to give a little extra to the companies they’re working for.

Access to a wider pool of talent

A remote workforce makes it possible for employers to tap into a larger pool of talent. Additionally, you’ll be able to attract more talent, especially within the younger generation.

Workplace flexibility is one of the factors that younger employees consider when looking for new employment opportunities. Offering this type of benefit can help employers attract young, highly skilled employees. This can be particularly beneficial to small businesses, as they can widen their nets and work with the most talented individuals, regardless of where they’re based.

Improves retention rate

One of the biggest challenges for small businesses is losing quality employees. Small businesses cannot compete with large companies when it comes to salaries and benefits, so it’s important to make the most of the advantages your business already has.

Remote work helps improve retention rates by 10%. 54% of employees say they would change jobs for one that offered them more flexibility. Working from home comes with benefits that can play a crucial part in employee retention, such as more flexibility in childcare responsibilities for working parents, and enhanced work-life balance.

Remote working reduces costs

Remote businesses save a lot of money on overheads. If most of your team is working remotely, you won’t need to pay for large premises which saves your business from spending money on rent and utilities. Almost 6 out of 10 employers identify cost savings as a major benefit of remote working. According to Forbes, large corporations such as Aetna and American Express reported annual savings of $78 million and $10-15 million respectively, thanks to their remote operations.

Looking to go Virtual?

Since Tim Ferris promoted the benefits of virtual assistants, savvy entrepreneurs have discovered the benefits of using virtual assistants to save money, scale safely, and reduce risk. While the term ‘assistant’ may lead some to think of administrative jobs, many companies are realizing they can access high-quality virtual employees, by the hour, with no long term contracts.

Virtual Assistants

Instead of hiring a full-time employee to do a small job, hire a virtual assistant to do it for you. Virtual assistants are skilled in multiple areas such as marketing, accounting, scheduling, and more. Hiring virtual assistants is also cost-effective, as they usually bill on an hourly or per task basis. Additionally, because they are working remotely, you won’t have to pay for any overheads like their laptop, internet connection, and other office-related expenses.

Virtual Specialists 

Ten years ago, remote employment was synonymous with telemarketing or customer service positions at minimum wage. It was rarely connected with a full-time career, and even full-time “remote” positions were different from what they are today.  Technology has now advanced to the point where some businesses are functioning completely remotely. Now, a lot more jobs can be done remotely, from internships to executive positions such as CEO.

Virtual assistant agencies such as  Outsourcery, VAConnect, and Remote CoWorker have been filling in the demand for quality VAs. They have made it easier for companies to find qualified virtual assistants that are a good fit for the company, as companies don’t have to go through applications on their own. Essentially, these virtual assistant specialists save you a lot of time and effort. When you go through virtual assistant companies, you don’t pay for individual virtual assistant jobs, you usually buy packages. These are time-based and can range from 10 – 75 hours or more. You’ll have a ton of flexibility and support along the way, to assist you wherever you need it.

Virtual Interns

Working spaces have evolved from the office into practically working from anywhere that has access to the internet. Evolving with them, is the way teams work, managers oversee projects and how companies make decisions.  Online internships are also beneficial to employers in a number of ways:

  • The talent pool is wider. Employers can even look for candidates in other countries.
  • The company has a great opportunity to cut down on expenses that could be caused if the intern was in-office. The candidate won’t be using company utilities such as office internet or other facilities.

Finding the right remote employee

Hiring a virtual employee is just like hiring any other employee — except you may never meet them in person. Therefore, you need to be sure that they have the right skills, they are a good fit and they can get the work done without needing to be monitored. How do you assess all these skills virtually?

Here some tips to help you:

1 Look in the right places

Using freelance websites to look for remote employees is not recommended, as they could be working on multiple jobs at the same time, which may mean that they will be less focussed on your business. It’s better to use traditional job search sites such as LinkedIn. The demand for remote workers is on the rise, so virtual employee agencies are also a great place to find the right remote employees.

2 Do video interviews

It’s important to do video interviews when hiring virtual employees. That way you can assess your prospective employee’s professional appearance and facial expressions on the video call. You can tell a lot about their conduct by how seriously they take these interviews. You can also use this platform to have a conversation with the candidate. Ask them about their education, job history, as well as their interests and values. This can help you evaluate if they are also a good cultural fit.

3 Put them on a trial run

Test the skills of each candidate by having a trial run. Give them a task that they would need to do on a typical workday. This way you can test their skills and see how they would do if they were to get the job.

4 Get the team involved

Even though the employee is virtual, it’s important for the candidate to be a good culture fit. The candidate might be working with other staff members so it’s important that they have a good working relationship. Once you have narrowed down the search, get other team members, particularly those that they’ll be working closely with, to engage with the candidates and get to know them better. It will be worthwhile getting their input.

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