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Notes From the Road

4 Arguments that HR Professionals Should Make for Remote Work

As a fully-distributed company, we know that remote work *works*. Here are four arguments to help you bring flexibility to your organization.

Our passion for remote work is not exactly a secret. In fact, you may have picked up on it from the name of our company. Remote Year was founded on the premise that great work can be done from anywhere and we don’t just espouse this idea - we live it.

We are a fully-distributed company, with each of our over 150 employees working in a different spot around the world at any given moment. Through consistent communication and a commitment to measuring progress and productivity, we have created a dynamic and empowering remote work environment for our employees.

“Working for a fully distributed company allows for flexibility in where I work,” Tasha Fitts, who works on the Remote Year Partnerships team, said. “Whether that’s a coffee shop in Denver or a rooftop co-working space in Mexico City, I am constantly inspired by my surroundings. When I feel personally inspired, I am motivated to do my best work.”

You might be thinking: how can I do the same for my company?

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We tapped into some of the brightest minds on our team to answer that exact question. As an HR professional, you’re looking for solutions that can boost your team’s motivation and productivity, while increasing your retention rate. In this post, we’ve laid out a few of the arguments that you should make for creating remote work opportunities within your organization.

1) Employees Are Already Successfully Working Remotely

Jeremy Payne, Head of People Ops

One of the ways in which I approach this conversation [about remote work]  is to find out what’s already going on. One of the more compelling arguments that I hear from companies who have created successful remote working cultures is that they realized after that fact that most, if not all, of their employees were already working remotely to some degree. Employees regularly took home computers and phones and finalized work products, answered emails and took calls - all while away from the office. In fact, just looking at actual work from home roles in the information economy, Forrester found that “66% of information workers in North America and Europe already work remotely” in their Demystifying the Mobile Workforce study. For many roles, it is already the norm.

As HR professionals, it is our role to support our employees in making sure that they have the knowledge, tools and resources that they need to perform well at their roles. If our team members are performing outside of the workplace effectively anyway, why not support them in those efforts and help them be even more effective rather than sustain a policy or procedural barrier that is just as likely to be getting in the way of great work?

2) Remote Work is a Better Motivator Than a Cash Bonus

Michelle Lakness, Business Development Lead

Remote work provides a competitive advantage in terms of recruiting and retention when it is offered as a benefit or incentive. It demonstrates to employees that the company views them as people, recognizes and supports diversity, knows that one size does not fit all and works to provide a platform for all situations and environments.

Cash is not the only, or even necessarily the best, way to motivate workers. In fact, while cash is the epitome of a flexible award - it can be turned into almost anything - it does have significant limitations. For example, employees must pay taxes on any cash awards that they receive, which diminishes the value of the award.

Tracy Michaud, HR manager at the Hitchcock Chair Co. in New Hartford, Conn., says that cash doesn’t reinforce brand loyalty, and employees may come to expect a regular cash payout.

Cash bonuses become an entitlement, and you lose the bang for the buck,” Michaud said.

In addition, studies have found that 85% of office workers want the tools that make it possible to work in the office, from home, in coffee shops and other remote locations. The firm surveyed 1,000 North American workers with computer and mobile access.

Key study results show that 74% of workers said they would quit their current jobs to work for an organization offering remote-work options,” the study said.

3) Remote Work is the New Norm

Wes Peltzman, Customer Success Manager

My general feeling is that the relationship between employee and employer is changing. Employees have access to more companies and are not restricted by region anymore. This is happening either way, so a company needs to get on board now to evolve their foundation for remote work, or they will be left behind.

According to the Society of Human Resource Management, “studies show that, by 2020, Millennials will make up 50 percent of the global workforce - and that, also by 2020, 50 percent of all U.S. employees will work remotely.”

“Since many Millenials now ask about telecommuting options during job interviews, employers are paying great attention,” according to the same article from the Society of Human Resource Management. “According to a 2015 study from FlexJobs and WorldatWork, only 37 percent of 379 HR professionals worldwide surveyed say their organizations have policies to support work flexibility options, which include working remotely, working a flexible schedule and part-time work arrangements.”

4) Remote Work Results in Global Understanding

Jason Scott, Director - Customer Success and Account Management

Remote work provides employees many opportunities to see their roles in a different perspective. If you work in marketing and you are traveling while working remotely, you will benefit from gaining global empathy for your Latin American consumer, your Asian consumer, or your European consumer.

Similarly if you work in supply chain, getting on the ground and being able to get close to your merchandisers and the people that are producing your product and understanding what challenges that they face on a day to day basis is becoming increasingly important.

If you work in HR or people operations, you can gain understanding of what values certain cultures place on certain benefits or certain parts of their compensation. It makes you just generally better as a leader within your function and your role.

Starting a conversation with your company about integrating a remote work strategy into your business doesn’t have to be tricky. Use these five arguments to get you started and, when in doubt, know that you are pushing your organization toward a future of creative, productive work.

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