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Remote First Working: What Is It and Is It Right for Your Business?

Published 10 Jun 2020
6 min read
Remote First Working: What Is It and Is It Right for Your Business?

Remote working. It’s a concept many of us have become very familiar with over the last few months and one that we’ve been forced to adapt to quickly. Whether you enjoy working from the comfort of your own home or find yourself dreaming about getting back in the office, it looks like many elements of remote working are here to stay — and for us, we couldn’t be happier. Although a challenging time, COVID-19 has revealed great opportunities for business owners and their teams. With many Australian companies shifting their entire workforce to remote working, there’s never been a better time to embrace this change moving forward. If you’re looking for help navigating COVID-19, we’ve created the Employment Hero COVID-19 Resource Hub to help you through this time. In here, you’ll find helpful articles, webinars, templates, guides and policies to get you back on your feet.

What’s changed going forward?

COVID-19 has allowed us to challenge the status quo. It’s taken a pandemic for us to reset and go back to basics when it comes to what works best for our teams. Now that our shift to remote working has freed up those empty hours spent commuting, your employees are most likely feeling more engaged, inspired and a greater sense of work/life balance — all of which are known to contribute to greater business success. By now, you will know if the shift to remote working has been beneficial to your team. If the shift has been positive, you’ll likely be nodding your head to these questions. Did you see an uplift in productivity? Did you see an improvement to your employee happiness score? Is your team overall more creative and innovative? With all of these questions now being asked, there’s one common denominator at hand — that your employees are enjoying the benefits associated with their newly found flexible work arrangements. So, how do we know that employees are enjoying remote working arrangements? We surveyed over 1200 Australian employees on remote work and they produced some very interesting (although not surprising) results. You can view the full remote working insights whitepaper here. The general consensus? People enjoy working from home (84%) and would continue regularly if given the opportunity (92%). What’s more? 65% of employees would like to work remotely on a permanent basis. Survey - How Do You Like Working From Home - Employment Hero Based on these insights, we can expect to see remote working become an expectation of a role as Australian’s continue to enjoy the flexibility associated with not being in the office 9 – 5. If you’re an employer, it’s important you take note of these and allow for remote working, or you could see top talent walk out the door and straight to a more flexible organisation. Our thoughts before we dive further into this? You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain when it comes to adopting a remote first approach.  

What exactly is a remote first workplace?

Prior to COVID-19, many workplaces had the vast majority of their team in the office everyday. Day in, day out, we’d commute for hours and be left feeling exhausted before we even arrived at the office. It was a routine that for many of us, was all we’d ever known. But it doesn’t have to be this way. A remote first approach provides your employees with the flexibility they need to work when and where works best for them and their current situation. At Employment Hero, our remote first approach involves 2 components:

  1. Work remotely
  2. Socialise locally

Work remotely - Employment Hero So what does this actually mean? We complete deep work at home and use the physical office location as a place for socialising and collaboration. Without the daily interactions that were once had amongst co-workers in the office, it means that you should invest more time and energy into getting everyone together. Whether this is holding social events weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly, the ball is in your court when it comes to finding out what your employees want. The best part about a remote first approach? You can still support those who are unable to work from home effectively as they have the option to work in the office everyday. This gives the power to your employees to choose how and where they work most effectively.  

How do I know if a remote first approach is right for my business?

It’s important to remember that a remote first workforce isn’t a one size fits all approach and won’t be suitable for everyone. It depends on a variety of factors such as the type of work being performed or the equipment needed to complete the work. If a remote first approach isn’t suitable for you, don’t be discouraged. Instead, use the learnings that have presented themselves during COVID-19 and continue to develop these moving forward.  

What are the benefits of adopting a remote first approach to working?

  Benefits of remote first working - Employment Hero  

It instantly opens up your talent pool domestically and internationally

Gone are the days of attracting top talent within a 50km radius of your office. With a remote first approach, there are no boundaries when it comes to location. This means that your talent pool instantly increases tenfold, meaning you have more choice when it comes to attracting and hiring top talent. Better yet, this can lead to a decrease in time to fill roles, can save you money in the long run.  

Allows for greater work/life balance and integration

We know that working remotely instantly grants your team with greater work/life balance. If you approach remote first with an open mindset and great trust for your team, you’ll reap the benefits. If you want to attend your child’s athletics carnival, do it. That mid morning ocean swim, go for it. If you want to go out for a yoga class at 4pm, we trust you. It’s things like this that can make all the difference, and if you’re worried about people not making up their hours — this is where you need to trust your team to do the right thing. The shift in mentality to output over hours can be the best thing you do for your team. Instead of micromanaging, the trust you instill in them will allow them to feel empowered to complete their best work. It’s a win/win situation, but it doesn’t stop there! In addition to it contributing to increased business profitability, there are many additional benefits of adopting a remote first approach. For example, an employee can now move closer to their family who lives rural, whilst still earning a good wage. This means that this employee can support the local economy, whilst still being able to work remotely. It’s a case of supporting your team with greater flexibility so they can choose where and how they choose to work and live.

Creates an inclusive working environment

When introducing remote working to the mix, you create the opportunity to improve inclusiveness and diversity within your business. This approach can help reduce inequality by creating more equitable employment opportunities for those who may not have the opportunity otherwise. People such as working parents, carers, people with disabilities and those unable to commute to the office due to their geographical location have often been excluded from the full range of career options. When we also remove physical barriers, personal prejudice and bias can reduce. The whole person is considered beyond what they look like as employees will be judged on their output rather than in-person assumptions. Essentially, remote work can create a more diverse and inclusive workforce and we know that this has many long term benefits. Your business will perform better and more importantly, you’ll be creating a more just future for all, no matter their background.

But what about those who are hired who don’t live near the physical location?

This is where our second part of the remote first approach comes in to play — actively organising social events so that your remote workers still have the opportunity to socialise with their co-workers. Whether you bring everyone together once a quarter or once a year, it’s up to you and your team.

Contributes to increased employee happiness and productivity

Based on our recent remote working survey of over 1200 Australian employees, the general outcome was that employees are enjoying the experience of working from home. This contributes to them feeling happier and more productive in their roles. If we revisit those statistics from earlier on, the majority of respondents enjoy working from home (84%) and would continue to work from home regularly if given the opportunity (92%). Things You Like About Working Remotely Survey - Employment Hero On the flip side, what are people enjoying about working from home? Besides no commute (56%), workers are enjoying flexibility (37%) and the time saved (32%). By introducing flexible work policies, businesses stand to improve their desirability, increase retention rates and create a healthier (and thus more productive) work culture. Sounds good, right?  

The wrap up

At Employment Hero, we believe that a remote first workplace is the way forward. It allows greater flexibility, improves employee happiness and productivity. So, with all of these benefits front of mind, it just makes sense to embrace the remote first way.

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