If your company’s objectives include hiring the best possible candidates and fostering diversity in your workforce, remote hiring could be part of the answer. Prior to the pandemic, remote hiring usually meant bringing in a new employee from another city, state or country—and, in many cases, paying some or all of the expenses associated with that employee’s move.
When it came to hiring for key positions, companies had only two choices: financially incentivize high-quality remote candidates to relocate or settle for a less desirable candidate who happened to be local. COVID-19 has redefined the meaning and the potential of remote hiring. Today, “hiring remote” can mean hiring ideal candidates from outside your geographical area and allowing them to work remotely most or all of the time.
Remote Workers Can Be More Productive
The pandemic has been eye-opening for business leaders who once believed that employees working from home wouldn’t work as hard or as productively as those onsite. In one survey released at the end of August 2020, 94% of employers reported no decrease in productivity since the onset of the pandemic. In fact, 27% even reported that productivity had increased despite having a significant number of remote workers.1
The Number of Remote-Based Positions Is Growing
As companies came to see that remote work didn’t hurt employee or company performance, and that letting employees work from home could bring big savings in real estate and onsite expenses (as a whole, US employers saved approximately $30 billion a day—or more—simply by letting employees work from home2), they warmed to the idea of hiring remote-based employees. Flexjobs, which specializes in remote work positions, has seen a 19% increase in employers posting job openings since early 2020.3
And in early April 2021, postings on the Indeed job site were twice as likely to mention the ability to work remotely than they were before the pandemic, with the frequency of remote work increasing across nearly all business sectors.4 Those remote positions included everything from entry level workers to managers and C-suite executives.
The advantages of offering a remote work option are easy to see. You can hire from a much wider pool of qualified professionals with specific skillsets than might not be available locally. You can also attract a more diverse set of candidates than might be available within your geographic area. But attracting these candidates requires adjustments in your recruiting process and benefit offerings.
How to Attract Remote Candidates
When you hire locally, you have public awareness of your business going for you, especially if your company’s reputation is positive and word-of-mouth is good. You lose those advantages when hiring remotely. That’s why it’s important to boost your online brand presence. It should start with an enticing website, and it is especially important to include a “careers” page to help sell your organization. Make remote recruiting a key part of your social media strategy. You want to help prospective employees understand what your company does and give them a feel for what it’s like to work there. You can do this with tactics such as employee testimonials (including perspectives from remote employees, if you already have some) and by highlighting your corporate values, particularly if they include an emphasis on diversity and inclusion.
Remember, you’re not the only company hiring full-time remote. So, although it presents greater opportunities, there is also increased competition from other remote-friendly companies. A benefit package that meets the needs of remote workers is key. Touting your employee lounge, complete with ping-pong and foosball tables, isn’t going to help. Neither is free parking or an onsite gym. A good first step is reviewing your benefits to see what they currently offer for employees who aren’t onsite. As a result of the pandemic, you’ve probably already adjusted several of these.
For example, do you provide a home office benefit to help remote employees create a workstation conducive to permanent at-home working? Have you thought about covering a portion of your remote employees’ internet service, heating, cooling or electricity costs? (Remember, currently the IRS doesn’t allow a home office tax deduction for FTEs who happen to work remotely.) Remote employees with young children might need benefits such as financial assistance with daycare.
The long-term success of employees working from home might also require a rededication to supporting mental and emotional wellness, reasonable and healthy borders between work life and home life, and incentives for exercise and a healthy lifestyle. The human touch helps, too. Some employers arrange to have the occasional free lunch or afternoon snack delivered to their remote staff. The point is that out of sight can’t be out of mind. Communicate regularly, and give remote employees the same opportunities for professional development you give onsite workers.
Be aware that creating benefit packages for remote employees can also provide unique challenges. For example, requirements for providing healthcare and disability benefits can vary significantly by state and by country. Health coverage that makes every expense out-of-network for remote employees will provide a disincentive to join your organization. Taxes, HSAs, and short-term disability can also be affected significantly by the geographic location of the employee.
Like every company, you’ll probably need to “learn into” how to best structure benefits for your remote workers. That’s why it’s important to have a single platform that allows you to add or modify benefits quickly, and which makes managing benefits easier for you and your employees. TASC Universal Benefit Account® can help.
It Isn’t an “All or Nothing” Proposition
According to one estimate, 36.2 million employees will be working remotely by 2025.5 Another predicts that by 2028, 73% of all departments will have remote workers.6 With that kind of continued growth, remote work could eventually become the default hiring mode for many types of jobs and industries.
But remote work doesn’t have to mean switching to an all-remote workforce or that these employees will never meet their colleagues in person. When the pandemic is finally behind us, the opportunity to bring employees together periodically for team or company meetings and events will return. Some companies also employ a “hub and spoke” approach, which allows employees to work at home, but provides them with meeting spaces in their areas where they can collaborate in person with colleagues.
Prior to the pandemic, a poll of “knowledge workers” (people who work in a professional setting and use a computer) found that 66% believed the office would be “obsolete” for most roles by 2030.7 That might prove an overstatement, but clearly more companies are going remote-friendly; and, in time, some might become remote-first. One thing we know for sure is that about 80% of the people working remotely because of COVID-19 said they wanted to continue remote work after the pandemic is over, but that only 25% to 30% of jobs are expected to be remote by the end of 2021.8 That could provide a great hiring opportunity for employers who embrace having full-time remote employees.
Editor’s Note: For workers working remotely, TASC offers a Home Office Account and separately, an Office Supplies Expense Reimbursement Account as well as an Employee Achievement / Award Account, Wellness Reimbursement Arrangement or Wellness Rewards Account, from more than 50 benefit offerings that can be instantly configured into custom plans that meet employee needs; where they are in life. https://www.tasclargemarkets.com/endless-aisle
- 90% of employers say working remotely hasn't hurt productivity,” CNN, August 2020: https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/27/success/work-from-home-employer-plans-for-more-flexible-policies/index.html
- <“Ten remote work statistics that you need to know in 2021,” Oberlo, December 2020: https://www.oberlo.com/blog/remote-work-statistics
- “These C-suite jobs pay over $100,000—and they’re remote,” CNBC, April 2021: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/04/06/high-paying-remote-jobs-companies-are-hiring-remote-c-suite-leaders.html
- “Remote Job Postings Double During Cornonavirus and Keep Rising,” Indeed Hiring Lab, March 2021: https://www.hiringlab.org/2021/03/16/remote-job-postings-double/
- “Ten remote work statistics that you need to know in 2021,” Oberlo, December 2020: https://www.oberlo.com/blog/remote-work-statistics
- ”The Ultimate List of Remote Work Statistics—2021 Edition,” Smallbizgenius, January 2021: https://www.smallbizgenius.net/by-the-numbers/remote-work-statistics/
- “The Remote Work Report by Zapier,” Zapier, November 2019: https://zapier.com/blog/remote-work-report-by-zapier/
- “Remote Hiring Trends 2021: The Future of Recruiting,” HireHive, April 2020: https://hirehive.com/remote-hiring-trends-2021-future-of-recruiting/