Ask any digital nomad, and they’ll tell you that remote work has been alive and well for a while now. However, it’s only really become mainstream since the advent of COVID-19 and the ensuing global pandemic.
More and more, companies are considering bringing remote talent onboard to fill their team roles. There are some significant differences between local and remote work, though, especially when dealing with overseas employees. Its integration is ongoing and evolving, so here’s some of what’s next for remote work and how it might affect your business.
1. Reliance on Software as a Service (SaaS)
Making sure your employees are paid promptly and accurately is a problem that’s already difficult for some business owners to solve. This challenge can be further exacerbated when your workers aren’t living in your business’s local area or even the same country. One of the trickiest parts about working with a remote team is navigating the various international employment laws.
Worker classification laws and those regarding minimum wage, taxation, and required benefits can vary greatly from country to country. It can take days to sift through all the required reading, consult human resources specialists, and actually implement what you’ve learned. Fortunately, there are HR experts who provide global payroll services on a software as a service, or subscription, basis. These service providers handle the legal and logistic challenges of onboarding new international hires, ensuring your business complies with applicable employment laws.
And once your remote employees come on board, there are myriad SaaS offerings that will help them help you achieve your business goals. Project management systems facilitate task assignments and handoffs, instant messaging platforms enable real-time communication, and tool suites allow file sharing, analysis, and more. It’s not too much to say that SaaS is the glue that holds remote teams together, and its adoption will only increase.
2. Decreased Pay, Increased Quality of Life
Navigating various worker classification laws to establish wages may be an upfront challenge for aspiring employers of remote workers. However, it could be worth it in the long run, as the pay these workers receive may be less in some instances. Hiring international workers may allow employers to pay salaries that are quite modest by stateside standards but ample where those employees reside. It’s a win-win for both parties.
Even if companies limit their hiring to domestic employees, remote work may still present cost-saving opportunities. A survey of tech professionals found that 37% of respondents would take a 10% pay cut in order to work remotely. In fact, 36% would opt for a remote position over a pay raise. Granted, there may be more initial overhead for employers who need to use SaaS applications to support remote work. But that overhead could quickly be compensated for by the reduced wages needed to employ those workers.
The reason so many people are willing to take reduced pay for a remote position is the perceived increase in quality of life. Remote work provides unrivaled flexibility compared to traditional in-person work. The minutes (or hours) spent commuting can add up to a significant amount of extra time in a day. Remote workers can spend this time prioritizing family and friends, accomplishing household tasks, or even working more. As long as employees continue to meet key objectives, it doesn’t matter where or when they do their work.
3. Changes in Company Culture
One of the struggles that companies have encountered in the face of the pandemic is maintaining their company culture. The personal encounters of daily office life are hard, if not impossible, to recreate remotely. Many companies have had to find ways to support employee bonding remotely, give up on it entirely, or something in between.
Some employees may find that they’re up to 65% more productive working from home, as they don’t have to navigate office politics. On the other hand, individual workers may suffer from mental health issues due to isolation. Finding the balance required to maintain both productivity and morale is something that each company will do differently.
Businesses will need to help individual employees handle the challenges of remote work. Some employees will need more assistance, perhaps through increased reliance on HR and mental health benefits. To foster company culture, businesses might offer more remote socializing opportunities, like playing online games or opening virtual hangout rooms. Others will find that their employees are content shooting the breeze on an IM platform or arranging ad hoc meetups.
4. Increased Focus on Employee Autonomy
Another challenge that many employers face in the remote work transition is shifting management styles. In-person work management can be much more hands-on than its digital counterpart. Simply put, it’s much easier for a manager to keep tabs on things when they can just walk over to an employee’s desk. As the remote work revolution continues to develop, managers will likely need to learn to give up more control. And employees will have to learn to responsibly manage themselves and their increased autonomy.
Not all employees are capable of managing themselves effectively, however, and everyone needs guidance from time to time. As remote work proliferates, so will self-management training and education programs. Believe it or not, there are even remote work certification programs offered by universities and educational testing services.
Companies may need to increase investment in their training programs during onboarding processes to enable effective remote work. Or they may begin to require potential hires to have remote work certifications to be considered for employment. Self-reliant candidates will become increasingly in demand, along with certifications that demonstrate a candidate’s ability to work autonomously.
Remote Work’s Growing Pains
Remote work is still in a somewhat awkward adolescence. As the practice continues to develop, so too will the amount of people participating in it. Its growth will be fueled by the SaaS applications that make it possible, cost savings, and the widespread desire for this kind of work.
To ensure its success, companies must pay conscious attention to culture and individual well-being, both of which greatly affected by remote work. Through their recruitment and training practices, businesses will need to identify and/or create employees who can work autonomously. These efforts will be well worth it, though, as the remote work trend clearly isn’t going anywhere.