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Creating a Work from Home Workforce in the Age of Coronavirus

Why people are hiring People Ops (1)

The coronavirus pushed the mainstream professional world down a path it has been flirting with for a long time – the Way of the Remote Workforce. Global Workplace Analytics informs us that 3.6% of the American workforce is already remote, a number that is up 140% since 2015. Today, 40% more of companies offer a remote working option as opposed to 2015. Hard-hit companies like GM and Ford will have a majority of their white-collar employees working remotely.

Our pundit class has already coined the buzzword social distancing to explain how mainstream culture is dealing with the phenomenon. As business people, it’s our job to take advantage of these trends, not buckle under them as they occur. The question: How can we use social distancing to help us?

The answer: Create a workforce that relies on social distancing rather than suffering from it!

Creating a Work from Home Workforce:

Today’s employees value company culture just as much (if not more) than a corner office. The way that you encourage or coerce performance from your employees forms a central part of that culture. While other companies lose manpower as they try to deal with the coronavirus, you can showcase your superior business core values by moving with the natural flow of business.

The natural flow of business is work-from-home. As stated above, this is where the world is going, at least for the time being. Mainstream business has not yet caught up to the flow, but the number of work-from-home jobs are accelerating. Industry leaders in every sector are ahead of the curve, with the laggards fighting to keep their profit margins from disappearing. Creating a work-from-home workforce is not only a perfect solution to employees who may be scared of contracting the coronavirus, it is also just plain old good business these days.

Traditional business wisdom does not apply in the Digital Age of the Millennial, especially not in one that is in a coronavirus panic. The opportunity for personal growth outpaces the need for a big starting salary in 80% of Millennial employees. If you are one of the few employers smart enough to give your employees the opportunity to expand in an age of consolidation and quarantine, they will love you for it. That love will turn into lower employee turnover costs, higher job satisfaction and most importantly, higher efficiency for your business.

The Question of Efficiency:

Odds are that your skilled employees have already hinted at the idea of working remotely more often. As we’ve discussed, now may be the time to consider accommodating them. The major hurdle that most employers/ managers have with this strategy is giving up what they believe to be direct control over the efficiency of each worker. The old wives’ tale of “if the cat’s away, the mice will play” may override our better judgment, which could end up costing us money and goodwill rather than saving it. Let’s put some control and efficiency misconceptions to bed.

  • The home is actually less distracting than the office. According to a FlexJobs study, 76% of employees stated that the home environment actually offered a better place to focus than the office. While it is entirely possible this is a conspiracy by these employees to get telework rights, read on for some interesting information that actually speaks to the validity of this study!
  • Employees who work from home are actually more productive in some studies. Analysts looked at American Express and JD Edwards. When comparing remote workers to office workers, productivity rose 43% at AMEX and 20-25% at JD Edwards.
  • Remote workers save companies money off the top. Even if workers kept the same level of productivity, companies save immediately on overhead when using more remote workers. A bigger at-home workforce requires less real estate, which reduces office rent, insurance and amenities. Remote workers also take less sick days and work more off-the-clock. It’s easier to take care of a cold and spontaneously work when you’re around the comforts of home.
  • Companies offering a remote option attract better employees. SoftChoice tells us that 74% of workers would consider changing jobs if the competing company offered an at-home option. Job satisfaction is also higher, which is an important metric to consider if your workforce is of Millennial age. People born after 1982 don’t stick around too long in jobs they don’t personally enjoy. Also, remote workers reported the highest rate of job satisfaction when compared to traditional workers. Why? In major cities like Los Angeles and Austin, who wouldn’t enjoy skipping out on rush hour traffic? That’s two to four hours not driving that could be spent working, not to mention the added efficiency that comes from avoiding the stress of the commute.

The Bottom Line:

Let the coronavirus serve as your catalyst into the work-from-home phenomenon. Even if you have a service-oriented, labor-intensive business that requires a certain level of on-site personnel, there may be ways that you can leverage remote workers in your operations, administration, marketing and executive functions.

Have a look at your competition as well. Are they using a work-from-home force in some ways that you haven’t thought of? There is nothing wrong with piggybacking a few strategies until you can come up with some of your own, especially if you can save a few bucks on overhead for your trouble in the meantime. The links embedded in this article lead to some interesting studies that you may want to read through more deeply before cementing your decision based on old-school ways of doing business.

In case of a nationwide or industry-wide recession, you may want to look proactively for people with work-from-home experience to future proof company efficiency and lock in supply side profits. No one knows exactly how badly the coronavirus will affect the economy long-term, but it is always best to be prepared for the worst case scenarios. One of the best ways to do this is to hire people who can deal with social distancing and provide superior results for your company without direct, physical day-to-day supervision.

Alan Cutter

Alan Cutter founded New York City's premier digital media recruiting agency, AC Lion International, and continues to lead the growing company as their fearless CEO. For over 20 years, AC Lion has been the trusted provider of revenue generating talent in the digital and technology landscape. Our reach spans from innovative venture-backed startups to enterprise level organizations. AC Lion is a proud member of the Lionseye Group, a collective of brands furthering talent acquisition through Venture Capital, HR Technology and Thought Leadership.