When the subject of remote employees came to the creative table of FYI Business Consulting as a potential subject for our radio show, I thought great, one subject two opinions….expense savings considerations, employee accountability. Of course, there are pros and cons to each opinion so that’s four points of view, this should be entertaining. Because 65% of all companies are doing it on some level its popular but how many really planned to make it work and how many did it because technology sounds like it should be easy?
As a financial professional I see cost savings. Can’t help it, it’s where my mind goes first. Less employees, less office space and associated brick and mortar costs etc. consumed. If you have 30% of your employees remote, you need 30% less space, 30% less office furniture, 30% less desk phones etc. Label this point of view one. The con to this pro (point of view two) could be the cost of transition, i.e. policy rewrites, training, technologyIT expenditures could offset savings.
Then there were employee considerations. How do we hold our employees accountable when we can’t see them? Sometimes when we can see them we have a hard time holding them accountable. And, how do we bring them into the fold from a culture perspective if they’re not in the office? Label three if you’re paying attention, and the fourth point of view (pro), if we adopt a remote employee policy won’t we increase employee satisfaction and therefore increase employee retention? Won’t we attract great employees that can contribute to our organization in a big way that just need a bit of flexibility?
Our FYI HR guru and I had a conversation about these four points of view and we think the bottom line is that in almost every case, the benefits, with attention paid the con points, far outweigh the few offsets. There are cost offsets initially, but they’ll be minor and there will still be a savings, especially in future years. Extra attention will have to be paid to HR policies, but the contributions of talented staff willing to give a bit extra puts the extra work in perspective. Besides, you were probably due to rethink HR structure anyway. This is a great opportunity to do that and be perceived on the cutting edge.
It really all comes down to the basics fundamentals that most business decisions come down to, planning and communication so here are a few thoughts.
Before you establish precedent, do a costbenefits analysis. Chances are good that there will be savings but quantify what a success is and measure it on a regular basis. And write a business plan to support the project.
Plan to train staff. You obviously need to train staff on how to be focused and productive within your organization when they’re remote, but you also have to train managers on how to manage remote employees.
Increase avenues of communication i.e. video chat, IM, conference calls, VPN access, facebook posts to bring them into the group and create a team community. Get IT involved.
Clearly communicate expectations.
Have one leader supervisemonitor all remote employees.
Explore the possibilities of renegotiating your off lease if you’re not at a renewal period, or can you sublet your space if you own the building.
Get marketing involved. Again, it’s communications and the marketing group can help get the buy in from employees and the “outside world”
Content Presented by: Bob Pantaliano, CFO; Judy Sailer, Human Resources; Cathi Bosco, Creative Director