Pop quiz: in what year was the term “telecommuting” coined?
Even trivia connoisseurs may be surprised by the answer.
Like most, you may have guessed a time after the invention of the internet, but in fact, the first known remote worker was an employee of NASA in the early 70’s. (So perhaps a very remote worker?) In 1979, the Washington Post published the article “Working at Home Can Save Gasoline,”and from there the idea of telecommuting gained popularity.
Today, thanks to modern technology, remote work has evolved and now offers more flexibility than ever, and companies are able to choose from various remote work models. Now, telecommuting saves a lot more resources than just gasoline.
In this post, we will discuss several remote work models to help you find one that fits best within your company culture.
With this model, employees are required to work primarily from the office, but with—you guessed it—the occasional work-from-home option. This model is attractive to just about anyone, but may be especially beneficial for busy parents or those who live further away from the office. The number of remote hours varies from company to company, but most who have this policy allocate at least one full remote day per week.
As one Stanford study suggests, allowing employees to work from home at least some of the time is essential, as it increases employee productivity by 13.5%. Plus, it significantly increases the efficiency of recruiting. According to a recent survey, 67% of jobseekers want more flexibility at work and 84% of millennials seek greater work-life balance.
One of the biggest pro’s to this model is that employees are given more opportunity to incorporate work-life balance and alleviate the hassle of everyday commuting (subway riders, I’m talking to you.) For many, the occasional work-from-home policy provides the break in a weekly routine that many employees need to avoid burnout.
These reasons among others are why many renowned companies, such AirBnb, Oracle, Deloitte, and Glassdoor, incorporate this occasional work-from-home policy. For all those who want to join this crew, we recommend starting with baby steps. Allow one work-from-home option twice a month and listen to the feedback your employees offer. Once you understand where the consensus lies, you can begin scaling this model to find how it compliments your company culture.
This model takes the flexibility from model #1 and turns it up a notch. Companies who subscribe to this policy give their employees freedom to choose where they work, whether that be the office, their couch, a coffee shop, or far-away lands. Any place with a stable Internet connection and quality coffee should suffice.
Many companies embrace this policy by offering employee benefits that allow remote team members to find a place where they can be the most productive. For instance, Automattic has a centralized office in San Francisco, but doesn’t consider location a factor when hiring their talent.
The company offers a generous stipend to spend on home offices in addition to the necessary tech equipment. Automattic even sets aside a large travel budget for teams to hop on a plane and meet up anywhere in the world whenever they please. These culture choices have played an important role in building this billion-dollar startup.
Companies that choose to join Automattic through adopting the work-from-anywhere model also opens the door to a much larger talent-pool. In a CIO survey by KPMG, 65% of IT leaders report a lack of software engineers in their area.
Even video conferencing pioneer, Skype outsourced its back-end development work to a team of four engineers from Estonia. The success of this company is largely due to the talent of this small remote crew.
For all those interested in making the switch to this model, make sure there is full buy-in and alignment among all senior leaders, especially your CFO. While promoting remote work could significantly reduce your operational costs, it could require budgets to be moved in order to accommodate other expenses.
This model is by far the most advanced remote work policy a company can embody, as team members are distributed all over the world, across different countries, and time zones. Companies that use it have most likely been remote since day one with no prior physical office. So, leaders who are in the early stages of starting their venture, this model is a great one to consider.
According to the data by Hallway, there are currently over 60 companies in the world that have incorporated this model, and that number will continue to grow as technology continues to take the world by storm.
Often times, the leaders and employers within these companies are digital nomads who change their location for a number of reasons. Fortunately for them, this model will not disrupt their work or their travel choices, making this extremely desirable for those who can’t commit or sit still in just one city.
One advantage companies have with this model is being able to adjust employee salaries based on where they are in the world. For example, if you hire an employee based out of Birmingham, AL, their cost of living may be much lower than an employee based out of San Francisco, and therefore won’t require a salary to compensate for it.
Great examples of companies that have been fully remote since day one include Buffer and Zapier. To ensure maximum employee productivity, Buffer pays for staff education, computer accessories, company retreats, and even anxiety therapy. Same goes for Zapier, that also offers a whopping $10,000 moving allowance for employees willing to move out of the Bay area and seek happiness outside the tech hub. These examples demonstrate just how powerful virtual capabilities can be for your remote employee.
With the help of modern technology, more companies can benefit from offering telecommuting options than ever before. There is a reason why dozens of tech companies have adopted these models with open arms, and more are following suit.
Each policy is being used by some of the world’s leading companies with resounding success. If you’re worried you might make the wrong choice, just consider the needs of your business at your current development stage.
If you want to increase employee happiness and engagement, the occasional work-from-home model is a wonderful option. If you have lofty goals and are excited to take the plunge into an unconventional work environment, the work-from-anywhere model has a certain malleability that can fit to your unique needs. However, if you feel compelled to diversify your team and don’t want the constraint of a central office, then collaboration with remote offshore teams could be the one for you.
As you can see, finding the right remote work model boils down to your business needs. Choose what works best for your company by asking your employees and listening intently as they share their specific needs. This way, you’ll have greater chances implementing the best solution to keep your employees happy and keep them around for years to come. Even if “around” is halfway around the globe.
Mary Atamaniuk is a digital content strategist at YouTeam, a YC-backed marketplace that helps companies to build remote teams of world-class engineers in less than a week. Mary’s areas of interest include digital marketing, tech entrepreneurship, and influencer blogging.
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