I have had the privilege and responsibility of working remotely (aka working from home) for the last 10 years. A few years ago when I was looking to make a position change it seemed like everyone and their brother was open to the idea of hiring remote employees. Suddenly the tide seems to have shifted, whether that’s a result of the very public shift by the CEO of Yahoo! to eliminate remote employees, the economy, or something else, I cannot say. I can say that I wholeheartedly believe that in the right position, a remote employee may be the best decision you ever made for your business.
- Your customers/users are around the globe–why should all of your employees be located in NYC? In today’s social media driven world, an unhappy customer who Tweets their dissatisfaction at midnight can gain a lot of momentum before the 9 am staff meeting. If you have customers and users of your website around the world, or even around the country, then spreading your team out across multiple time zones is a good idea.
- Remote employees save you money–I work from my home office, I do not use company office space, I don’t drink the company provided coffee. Most of my positions are contractor based, I don’t draw from the company benefits package. I don’t have a company issued computer and I don’t use company issued office equipment. Tell the truth–how many packages of Post-Its are in your desk at home with the company logo on them? (It’s okay–I won’t tell!)
- People from different backgrounds, have different perspectives. I’ve worked with a lot of teams over the years. I’ve worked with teams based in California, Utah, New York City, and Washington DC. Each of those teams has had a unique tone, vibe and way of approaching things. By far the most successful team I’ve ever been a part of was made up of an entirely remote team of workers. We had women in Texas, New York State, Hawaii, Germany, California, Wisconsin, and myself here in southern Illinois. Not only did that relatively guarantee someone was online at all times, it meant we each had a unique set of experiences, style and personality to tackle problems.
- No sick days–As I mentioned earlier, I’ve worked remotely for over 10 years, in all those years I have yet to take a day off because myself or my children were ill. I’ve also never had to leave early because of a call from school, or the daycare provider. I don’t have to call home or daycare to check on my children. I’m also highly unlikely to share my cold or flu virus with co-workers (provided they keep their antivirus software up to date–ha ha!)
In today’s technically savvy world, communicating with remote employees is far easier than ever. Skype, GoToMeeting, Smart Phones and other technology makes being in touch on a moment’s notice simple. So long as everyone on your team communicates regularly having them spread out will not feel any less connected than if they worked in a large office building together.