Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, companies from across the world have been encouraged to embrace the benefits of a remote-first culture and global hiring. With the international economy growing again after a 4.3% contraction in 2020 — thanks in large part to unprecedented stimulus packages and vaccine rollouts, many companies are choosing a remote-first culture for the long-term.
In findings published by Reuters, there is a growing consensus that more employees in the future will be hired remotely and work from home (often referred to as ‘virtual employees‘); whilst experiencing a different set of expectations from their managers. The age of the distributed workforce is here.
With industries such as emerging technology and software forecast to grow by 104% and 50% respectively, this presents a challenge for employers to find and retain top talent. In response to the increasing demand to fill complex technical roles, recruiters and employers are opting to fill these positions remotely; thus taking advantage of a remote-first culture.
1. In a remote-first culture, the focus remains on the work – not where the work is conducted.
2. Remote workers report better work-life balance, increased productivity, and reduced stress. For employers, remote work has been shown to result in higher retention levels and increased brand awareness.
3. In a recent study conducted by Mercer, 27% of employers noted that since their employees had been forced to work from home due to Covid-19,productivity has actually grown.
4. For companies that haven’t yet adapted to a digitally-minded business model and remote-first culture, certain aspects – such as undertaking complex and collaborative tasks – can become more challenging when working remotely.
5. By embracing a remote-first culture, along with the benefits of global hiring, employers have the opportunity to access a deeper and more diverse pool of talent.
What is remote-first culture?
Remote first culture is a concept that can be applied to companies with or without a physical office. These companies generally offer their employees the choice to work from home or a significantly reduced capacity at the company’s physical office.
In a remote-first culture, employees are provided with the same access to information as their ‘in-house’ colleagues. In addition, employees receive the same opportunity to grow their professional skills and further their careers. Many companies that adopt a remote-first culture will also offer their employees the chance to work at a time that best suits their circumstances – rather than the typical 9-to-5 office hours.
A remote-first culture should not be confused with a remote-friendly culture. In a remote-friendly culture, day-to-day work is still characterized within the confines of traditional office structures and remote work is seen as a privilege. Furthermore, remote work may only be made available to certain employees and the company’s culture remains largely based around being in the office.
In a remote-first culture, the focus remains on the work – not where the work is conducted. A remote-first culture views the concept of working remotely as the accepted way of working; as being equal to in-house office operations. For companies that embrace a remote-first culture, they are essentially building remote work – and all of its benefits – into the very fabric of their business.
Advantages of remote first culture
A remote-first culture presents benefits for both employers and employees. Remote work is more cost-effective, better for the environment, and employees typically report higher levels of productivity and engagement.
In its 2019 State of Remote Work study, video conferencing company Owl Labs found that employees who regularly work remotely are happier and stay with their employers longer than on-site employees. During the study, full-time remote workers reported being happy in their job 22% more than people who never work remotely. These study respondents outlined that their reasons for working remotely were:
Companies that promote a remote-first culture are better positioned to attract and retain employees. In terms of retention, remote workers are more loyal to employers than their in-house counterparts. In fact, remote workers are 13% more likely to remain in their current job for the next five years.
For employers, this makes remote work more than just a retention tool. It becomes an exceptional way to widen a company’s talent pool and attract new talent.
Increased employee productivity
Remote workers tend to be more productive than those in a traditional working environment. In findings published by Udemy, 80% of workers report that chatty co-workers and office distractions negatively impact their work performance. By working remotely, employees avoid distractions that can arise from chatty co-workers, thus enabling them to focus on their most important tasks.
Remote workers are not only more productive, they’re also happier at work, confident in their ability to perform their job well, and motivated to do their best.
In a recent study conducted by Mercer, 27% of employers noted that since their employees had been forced to work from home due to Covid-19, productivity has actually grown. Of these survey respondents, 83% say they plan to implement more flexible, long-term work policies, such as allowing more employees to work from home.
Read more about boosting the performance of remote workers at How To Track Performance in Remote Teams.
Greater access to a global talent pool
In today’s business environment, companies are increasingly seeking talent on a global scale. By embracing a remote-first culture, employers have the opportunity to access a deeper pool of talent, with far-ranging skills and experience.
Global hiring also enables companies to move beyond the confines of their immediate regions. Furthermore, because workers are remote, companies avoid the high costs associated with relocating employees.
When companies open their recruitment to a global network of candidates, and the ‘open talent marketplace‘ as a whole, the quality of people applying is invariably higher than it would be in a specific region. If, for example, a company needs to hire a marketing manager or a graphic designer, they no longer have to limit their search to a designated area. This has the potential to build a more diverse workforce, which has numerous benefits for a company. In fact, companies with a diverse workforce produce 19% more revenue than those with less diversity.
Companies can even attract ‘digital nomads‘, employees or contractors on the move, who may not be settled in any one place for long.
Transitioning to a remote-first culture
Whilst there are numerous benefits that a remorse-first culture brings, it should also be acknowledged that certain aspects become more challenging when working remotely. This can include new employee onboarding, undertaking complex and collaborative tasks, and fostering a supportive environment in which new ideas can flourish.
For companies that haven’t yet adapted to a digitally-minded business model and remote-first culture, they may not possess the skills, technology, and resources to thrive in a remote-first environment.
Digital transformation impacts all elements of a business, and there are a number of ways in which businesses can fast-track change. When transitioning to a remote-first culture, companies should address the following key areas:
Foster a productive remote workforce
To implement an effective remote-first culture, companies need to provide their employees with platforms and digital tools to work efficiently. This includes:
Protect and secure company data
With so many people now working from home, this has led to significant security risks in the form of data breaches. As employees use home networks and personal devices to access business applications and platforms, this increases the company’s risk of attack. As an example, cybercriminals can enter an organization’s network through an employee’s unsecured personal device.
To mitigate data security risks, companies can address the following areas:
Companies need to ensure that their employees have the necessary skills to work from home effectively. Consequently, training sessions need to extend further than the basics of cloud computing, cybersecurity, and collaboration software. In many cases, essential training should be part of remote worker onboarding.
Managers are integral to keeping a company’s remote workforce productive and cohesive. Therefore, it is vital that managers are having the training required to lead a digital team. Factors like project management and relationship building need to be approached from different angles when being conducted remotely.
A remote-first culture presents myriad opportunities for employees to grow and develop professionally. The progression towards a digital business landscape has increased the demand for skills relating to data analytics, robotics, and AI. As a result, remote-first organizations should provide their workforce with opportunities to build new skills in these areas.
Hiring globally and embracing a remote-first culture
If your business is seeking a global talent pool from which to hire employees, a Global Professional Employer Organization (PEO) can help you to increase operational efficiency, mitigate risk factors, and maximize the talent in your organization.
A global PEO acts as your employees’ Employer of Record and manages your most time-consuming HR tasks, employer liabilities, and legal requirements — such as payroll for remote workers and benefits administration. At the same time, you retain autonomy and full control over your employees’ job functions and day-to-day tasks.
If you would like to move towards a remote-first culture and hire employees in a country where you don’t have a legal business entity, a global PEO can quickly and compliantly hire employees on your company’s behalf. Despite the fact that employees are legally employed by the global PEO, they remain, for all intents and purposes, your employees.
An increasing number of businesses are taking advantage of a remote-first culture and global hiring. A remote-first culture presents benefits for both employers and employees. As employees become more satisfied, this equates to uptake in productivity and higher levels of engagement. For employers, remote work has been shown to result in higher retention levels, increased brand awareness, better communication, improved employee morale, and higher productivity. In addition, by accessing a global network of candidates, companies can access a deeper pool of talent, with the skills and experience needed to grow their operations.
How Horizons can help
Horizons provides global employment solutions for companies expanding into more than 180 international markets. With the support of our employment experts, your business can quickly and compliantly hire the world’s top remote talent.
As the only Global PEO with a dedicated, in-house recruitment team, Horizons sources, hires, and onboards your global workforce. After selecting the candidate you wish to hire, we manage all payroll, benefits, taxes, and employment compliance. This lets you focus your efforts on growing your business globally.
Frequently asked questions
A remote-friendly culture is one that enables remote work, but does not require or expect it of all employees.
To transform your office into a remote-first environment, we recommend:
- Invest in the right tech
- Protect company data
- Train and enable your employees.