The Challenges and Opportunities of Remote Work: How to Create a Positive Remote Work Culture
Today’s remote work culture comes with opportunities to seize and challenges to overcome. Discover what you can do to foster a positive workplace for your remote workers, create a positive candidate experience for potential new hires, and elevate your employer brand.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States saw a rise in the number of businesses with remote employees. From 2019 to 2020, the Census Bureau found that there was an increase in the number of remote employees from 28.1% to 41.9% – and that was before there was any mandatory shutdowns and businesses quickly having to adapt to remote work life.
In a post-pandemic world, we are seeing employers adopt a new hybrid model for their employees, with many businesses having both in-office and remote days. For many businesses, remote work (whether full or partial) is here to stay, and just like with on-premises work, there are associated challenges and opportunities.
The growing popularity of remote work has changed the way employers hire, retain, develop, and support employees. Whether an employee works remotely part of the week or exclusively, it’s important to understand today’s remote work culture to know how to handle the changes and keep workers happy, engaged, and productive.
What will the future of the workplace bring? Are you prepared for the shift that’s already happened? Find out which employee engagement best practices you can start to implement today to support a remote workforce and learn about the trends that are emerging in today’s remote work landscape.
Remote Work Trends
The workplace is changing rapidly, and remote work trends are constantly emerging as more and more workers are drawn to this type of work environment. It’s estimated that over 36 million Americans will work remotely by 2025, according to a future workforce report created by the freelancing platform Upwork.
Forbes reports that 98% of workers would like to work remotely at least part of the time, with tech, computer, and IT at the top of the list of companies providing opportunities for remote workers. Additionally, Forbes reports that in 2023, medical and health industries are among the top five that utilize remote workers.
Even in industries you might not consider, like retail or quick service restaurants (QSR), many back-of-the-house roles for customer service, marketing, accounting, and recruiting jobs are now done remotely.
Tools and resources for remote teams are also making it easier for companies in nearly every industry to turn more and more roles into remote positions. Recruiting and engagement platforms (like Puck) are designed to simplify reaching top talent in an increasingly remote workforce.
Future of the Workplace: Remote Work Statistics
What numbers are the experts predicting for the future of remote work? Here are just some of the remote work statistics we’ve uncovered:
- A Gallup poll reveals that 56% of workers in the United States are working remotely to some extent.
- A study done by AT&T reveals that the hybrid work model, which includes remote work part of the time, is expected to increase from 42% in 2021 to 81% in 2024.
- By 2025, about 22% of the workforce will be working fully remotely.
Judging by the predicted numbers alone, it’s evident that we can expect the challenges and opportunities of remote work to matter to employers and employees alike, impacting the way everyone works in the years to come.
Employee Retention Drivers
An important consideration for any employer is figuring out what the key employee retention drivers are in their new remote work culture. Drivers typically revolve around the following:
- Strong leadership
- Timely feedback
- Recognition by managers and peers
- Opportunities for advancement
- Competitive compensation
- Good work-life balance
Looking at these retention drivers within the context of a remote work culture, we can find opportunities in the areas of work-life balance and competitive compensation. Remote workers typically report high levels of satisfaction with work-life balance.
But the areas of feedback, leadership, recognition, and advancement present remote work challenges that must be addressed.
With a remote workforce, managers need to be trained in new leadership styles so that no team member is overlooked. Remote work best practices must be implemented to enable effective feedback loops in a timely manner and make sure that employee accomplishments are recognized and celebrated. Recognition needs to be factored into raises, promotions, and reviews, but also needs to be given in a more public forum.
Challenges of Hiring for Remote Roles
While there are many benefits of remote work, there are also a lot of challenges associated with hiring remote employees.
One big challenge that recruiters face is making the hiring process more personal when it has become more de-personalized in recent years. How do you attract top talent for remote roles when it’s become so hard to establish a personal connection? Especially when many roles never require employees to come into the office and they don’t get the same opportunity to build relationships with their coworkers the way that traditional in-office employees do! The candidate experience is important to consider when hiring for remote roles.
Other remote work challenges related to hiring include:
- Accurately assessing candidates’ skills and abilities
- Onboarding new employees seamlessly
- Creating a sense of community for new remote workers
With greater numbers of applicants looking for remote positions, companies that know how to differentiate themselves and build trust are more likely to attract top talent. One way of doing this is to strongly enforce your employer brand and actively seek ways to engage with your candidates in meaningful ways.
Employee Engagement in a Remote Workplace
One of the most common remote work challenges employers face is finding ways to keep employees engaged. Ways to do so include:
- Creating a great onboarding experience for new hires
- Providing feedback consistently
- Offering opportunities to learn, grow, and develop
- Developing a culture of trust and transparency
- Encouraging two-way communication
In any industry, from healthcare to tech, to retail to QSR, engaged employees tend to be more productive, connected, and satisfied. By focusing your attention on employee engagement best practices, you’ll be able to keep top performers around longer.
Top Tips for a Positive Remote Work Culture
Check out our top tips to help you foster a positive, engaging, and inclusive remote work culture:
- Set up easy-to-use communication channels.
- Provide clear documentation that’s accessible to everyone on the team.
- Offer resources that enable employees to work from anywhere.
- Set clear expectations.
- Give remote workers enough flexibility so they can enjoy a work-life balance.
- Offer the chance to collaborate with others.
- Create opportunities for fun, virtual events team members can engage in.
Building and managing remote teams requires the right blend of automating the hiring, onboarding, and training tasks while personalizing connections with each remote worker to keep everybody motivated and engaged.
How to Choose Tools and Resources for Remote Teams
As an employer, you’ll benefit greatly from sharing tools and resources that can help remote teams collaborate and stay productive. Your tools enable your employees to work remotely and help your teams communicate effectively.
Ask yourself questions like:
- What equipment do my remote workers need in their home office to work more productively?
- What software tools are available to connect team members and foster better communications?
- What resources can I share with my remote workforce to help everyone do their jobs better?
Providing the right tools and resources for remote teams will enable them to perform their jobs more efficiently, in turn enabling you to grow your business.
Great Remote Company Examples
- AirBnB: By embracing a combination of flexibility, a strong remote work culture, and human connection, AirBnB was able to hire and retain top talent, reinventing itself in the process.
- Spotify: Offering the freedom to work from anywhere and making sure to provide office equipment support is how Spotify has built a healthy hybrid workforce.
- Dropbox: Adopting a virtual-first policy, Dropbox lets its people work from home permanently. Its remote work culture attracts top talent for high-level roles, including marketing specialists and business developers.
Make hiring more human, with Puck
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