If you don’t have a policy for employees working virtually (at least some of the time), it may be time to reconsider.
For instance, say your best employee comes into your office to tell you that her spouse got a job on the West Coast and her last day is going to be in three weeks. Or, say that after a two-month search for a new employee with extremely specific skills — and a slew of bad interviews in the process — you find the absolute perfect employee. However, he lives in Alaska and has no desire to commute every day by bush plane. Or, perhaps you get a call tonight from an employee with a long commute who wants to turn in his notice to spend more time with his small kids.
It used to be that the only real option in these cases was losing the employee. This meant lower retention rates and increased costs for hiring and onboarding, which can be significant. ZaneBenefits reported that a recent Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey found that the cost of replacing an employee averages out to six to nine months’ worth of the employee’s salary. Then, add in increased recruiting costs, as well as the opportunity costs for not having the best of the best on your staff.
However, technology has made working virtually an attractive concept for both employees and employers because it grants a whole new level of flexibility. Employees not within driving distance to the office can continue to work for the company, and local employees who need more flexibility can continue working remotely. Technology not only makes it possible, but also makes it an efficient choice in terms of productivity, to the point that you may not even realize the employee isn’t in the office.
Keeping in Touch
One of the biggest concerns with working virtually is communication. Can the team collaborate? Will it be hard to reach the employee? Unified communications allows your team to stay in touch with the remote employee regardless of location and device. This technology seamlessly forwards calls to the team member’s device, whether it’s to a home landline or a mobile device. You can also use the chat feature enabled by this technology to talk in real time as the team works together on projects.
While there is something special about face-to-face communication, it’s still possible to get that experience with body language, tone, and facial expressions, even when the employee is working out of a coffee shop. You can start a video conference call with just a few touches of a button, and everyone can talk in (almost) person. Your remote workers can join team meetings by video as well.
When you think of working remotely, you may immediately be filled with dread at the thought of emailing drafts and crises arising over version control. However, cloud solutions make this a non-issue. Remote workers can access the cloud network just as if they were sitting in the office next door, using all the same version control tools as every in-office worker. And accessing the tools and software needed to perform their job is no longer a hassle, or even an extra expense. By setting up virtual networks, remote employees can log on to their screens and have the exact same setup as their in-office colleagues.
The main reason working from home is becoming more accepted and common these days is that it is a win-win for both the employees and the company. Your employees get the flexibility they need and are much more likely to stay for the long-term. And your company gets or retains access to the right employees, regardless of their mailing address.
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