Much has been said about remote working in the last few months. Does it improve productivity or diminish focus? Are employees more motivated or less inclined to work? Is it the new normal or a passing fad? Much less has been said about one of the key benefits of remote working: recruitment.
With some companies battening down the hatches, hiring may not have been at the forefront of minds during lockdown, but human capital is still a vital resource for any business and will be key in the post-Covid fightback. As I recently told the Guardian, remote working represents a unique opportunity for employers to access highly-skilled and diverse talent previously precluded from the recruitment pool; an opportunity too good to ignore.
Answering the productivity question
First, let’s consider the productivity question through the talent lens. Every company wants to hire the most motivated, productive and skilled employees to help drive their business forward. Pre-coronavirus, the accepted norm was an office environment allowed for these individuals to thrive, but remote working has turned this idea on its head.
A two-year Stanford study found that people working remotely one day per week increased their productivity by 13%, while an Airtasker survey showed that fully remote workers worked 1.4 days more per month than their office counterparts. As Head of People at a remote company, I know that people work best when they are free to choose how they work. Some prefer the hubbub of the office working environment or a local café, others prefer working from home with the door closed. In short, giving employees the freedom to choose results in higher productivity.
A greater, more diverse talent pool
Remote working is not just about where people can work, but which people. When FYXER switched from semi-remote (one day per week in the London office) to fully remote, we were no longer limited to hiring within the London commuter belt. Instead, we were able to access highly-skilled individuals with limited job opportunities - such as rural professionals, caregivers, military spouses and those with disabilities - anywhere in the country and made great hires in Wales and the North East in the first two months.
In a letter to the Financial Times, Darren Murph, Head of Remote at Gitlab, said that “remote work can reverse rural depopulation, make communities less transitory and spread opportunity to underserved areas.” It also levels the playing field for talented individuals who cannot move for work and enables employers to hire a more diverse workforce, which boosts productivity through more varied perspectives, better decision-making, higher engagement and increased creativity to name just a few.
Time to look forward not back
Buffer’s 2020 State of Remote Work report found 98% of people would like the option of working remotely during their career, but that the biggest obstacle to remote working was companies’ previous non-flexible work culture. However, work cultures are not set in stone. From the production line model to the office model to now, how we work adapts to the times, so why not change the culture and embrace the benefits?
In the last few weeks, the government has been encouraging us to return to the office, but the talent, productivity and flexibility benefits of remote working should be championed, not disregarded. Instead of going back to the office, we should be going forward