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Coronavirus Unintended Consequences: Added Value Through Remote Workforce

The trend toward offering flexible or remote work schedules as a perk before the pandemic has now become commonplace for a majority of businesses, even those who had previously never considered the option. A recent PwC study predicted that 55% of employees are likely to continue allowing remote work post pandemic. While we acknowledge that there is no replacement for in-person interaction, 3P wanted to highlight how a remote workforce can impact both your top and bottom line.

Talent diversification and efficiency.

Businesses in a variety of industries are reaping the benefits of diversifying their workforce and expanding their capabilities as they are no longer bound to the skills of a local talent pool.

While the US Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 63% of US workers required significant onsite presence, a large swing (31% of US workers) transitioned to telecommuting in March, resulting in access to a more diverse talent pool. Gallup reported that this trend increased to 57% by early April.

The success of hiring platforms like The Mom Project, which provides access to 300,000 highly skilled working moms, is a great example of creative talent resourcing. This is a step in the right direction to curtail the female recession and enhance the capabilities of an organization by providing access to a pool of talent that would otherwise be absent from the workforce due to lack of remote and/or flexible work positions.

Remote work options have also increased employment opportunities for candidates with disabilities. MarketWatch interviewed several candidates who have directly benefited from remote work becoming more commonplace, highlighting a survey of 3,000 all-remote software-development startup GitLab where 83% of respondents commented that remote work had enabled them to work. Companies are now reaping the benefit of focusing on the output of someone’s work product, which is slowly debunking the façade that “face time” = value creation.

Reduced overhead and untapped growth potential.

Harvard Business Review estimates in their article The Alternative Workplace: Changing Where and How People Work that “some 30 million to 40 million people in the United States are now either telecommuters or home-based workers,” giving companies the cost-reduction advantage by eliminating office space, consolidating others, and reducing overhead costs.

In response, many companies have established satellite offices or “alternative workplaces” for telecommuters. An additional tailwind is the enhanced customer service through greater time-zone coverage and possibly the expansion into new markets.

The value of a remote workforce can only be realized through enhanced communication.

The success of a remote workforce is highly contingent on not just communication frequency but also the content.  As mentioned earlier, there is no true replacement for the in-person connection. However, Zoom meetings that are scheduled with a specific purpose rather than acting as a replacement for every in-person interaction, while maintaining some form of human element rather than focusing on solely the task at hand, have been seen to increase employee engagement levels and reduce Zoom fatigue.

HR{preneur} How to Keep Your Team Motivated During Uncertain Times presented by ADP, offers tips and ways for employers to motivate their employees and help them connect personally with one another. Stay Connected With Your Remote Team by HiringThing Inc. showcases tools like Slack and offers creative, inventive and resourceful suggestions for employers and employees to engage and connect.

Remote teams that have figured out the right style and frequency of communication during this time have realized both increased productivity and morale – a win-win for the both the company and the employee that no longer dreads being stuck at the water cooler.

Summary

While there are a number of articles focused on the negative impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, these key benefits show that there are many positives to glean from it as well:

  1. Growth through access to diverse talent pools and expansion of market presence; and
  2. Cost savings associated with flexible work schedules and satellite offices.

It is important to remember that none of these benefits can be realized unless you have a comprehensive communication strategy in place to engage, motivate, and retain your workforce during this uncertain time.

Feel free to contact one of our consultants to discuss further: rquinn@3ppartners.com

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