According to the American Community Service (ACS), only 3.5% of the American workforce worked from home prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, and as many as 62% of Americans say they could work from home, in another poll conducted by Citrix in early 2019. When the outbreak hit, small, mid-sized, and large firms all over the world scrambled to set up work-from-home networks to keep their employees connected to their jobs. Albeit through difficult circumstances, many companies have already realized the benefits and cost savings of remote staffing and have decided to allow their employees to continue to work from home.
Challenges and Benefits of Remote Staffing
The challenges of working remotely include reduced communication and collaboration and minimized access to company culture. However, remote staffing agencies like ClarkStaff.com and business management software like SalesForce.com, Trello, and GoToMeeting have already gained a strong foothold in the corporate world and are already widely used. These same companies have seen exponential growth in the wake of the global quarantines.
Benefits of working remotely include lower costs to maintain office space or infrastructure, and there is no dreaded daily commute to rob people of their time and money. For example, a study conducted from data collected in the 2017 United States Census, showed that the average Irvine, California commuter spends around one hour each day and around $10,000 per year in fuel to get to work. Some areas are much worse.
How Can You Prepare for the Future of Remote Working?
Companies must adapt and evolve to embrace new technologies that will enable them to manage remote teams more effectively. Cloud computing and the aforementioned software tools are always a wise option. Just find what works best for your company and roll them out properly.
In addition to new technology, new business management skills and management styles should also be employed, meaning the way managers and team leaders engage their employees will need to change. Hosting regular online meetings, group chats, webinars for training, and hangout events for collaboration will become commonplace in the virtual office of the future. You will also see many companies taking advantage of the “division of labor”, as Adam Smith put it, which involves hiring other remote staff to manage certain aspects of a company. These areas include payroll, bookkeeping, back office projects, encoding, and helpdesk support.
The way business is conducted has already changed and now we are realizing that this change is permanent. Unfortunately, it can sometimes take great disasters such as a world war or a global pandemic to force us to change, but with it always comes great leaps forward and advancements we might not have seen otherwise. Do not be afraid of the future. Instead, embrace it, stay flexible and be willing to adopt new tools and new business practices.