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Should your business hire remote workers even when the pandemic is over?

Is working from home going to be the “new normal” even once the pandemic has subsided? Many businesses are certainly betting on that being the case – with Facebook, Twitter and Shopify all examples of companies that have started offering remote working as a permanent option.

“When you limit hiring to people who live in a small number of big cities, or who are willing to move there, that cuts out a lot of people who live in different communities, have different backgrounds, have different perspectives,” CNN quotes Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as saying in justification.

For your own business, his words could sum up perhaps the biggest attraction of recruiting from much further geographically than ever before. However, would it actually be a practical option for you?

How remote working has shaken off its traditionally negative image

Long before the pandemic, there was a certain stigma to working from home. Many employers feared that allowing their employees to do so would leave them fraught with unhelpful distractions – especially as it would, at least theoretically, be trickier for managers to monitor their remote staff.

Paradoxically, however, one survey highlighted by Business News Daily reveals remote workers to actually outclass their office-based counterparts in productivity. Some of the eye-opening findings include that, per month, remote employees work 1.4 more days than in-office workers.

While office workers spend an average of 37 minutes a day – excluding lunch or breaks – being unproductive, remote employees are unproductive for just 27 minutes a day. Meanwhile, 22% of office workers said their boss distracted them from work, whereas only 15% of remote personnel said likewise.

Recruiting remotely can throw up daunting legal complexities

Nonetheless, unlocking productivity gains with a work-from-home (WFH) strategy would strongly depend on you carrying it out correctly. You could find that WFH does not quite work for all of your employees or even your business as a whole. There are also various administrative tangles you would need to consider.

While you might be tempted to hire someone, who will be physically based in another country as they work, recruiting such a worker would require you to comply with that particular country’s employment laws as well as those laws applicable to where your business is based.

Employment laws can even differ on a city-by-city basis in some parts of the world. So, unless you are willing to update a wide range of documentation – including employee handbooks and privacy policies – to account for these differences, you should stick to recruiting at least from within the company’s home country.

It’s easy to source tools for facilitating remote working

Computerworld contributing columnist Mike Elgan advises that, if your business will have both office-based and remote workers, “you’ll be more likely to benefit from a hybrid cloud model” due to its flexibility.

For example, cloud telephony would be ideal if you want to boost remote productivity without home-based members of your team running up extortionate phone bills. These workers would be able to connect to the company switchboard via a handset or mobile app.

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