Over the last few years at The WFC Group, we’ve seen more and more international clients with needs related to the evolving global workforce. One of the biggest trends we’ve seen is the proliferation of remote teams. The advances in technology, scarcity of top tech talent, and changes brought on by the millennial generation have all contributed to the rise of global and domestic remote employees across many industries.
According to a survey of business leaders by the London Global Leadership Summit, 34% of executives believe that more than half of their full-time employees would be working remotely by 2020. Entrepreneur Magazine reports that 83% of executives say they’ll be increasing the use of contingent, intermittent or consultant employees. Domestically, high profile cases like Yahoo and Best Buy have given ammunition to those against a remote workforce, but the movement is still growing and attracting champions.
There are quite a few dollar-related benefits to a remote workforce, such as a reduction in overhead costs like office space, broadband and utilities. Also, expanding recruitment globally not only broadens the talent pool, but it can drastically reduce salary costs. By hiring an employee overseas, a company can avoid matching bloated regional salaries or costs of living in large cities. There’s a human side to this as well. Chad Halvorson, CEO of When I work, argues that employees, primarily developers and designers, “…Often need long, uninterrupted periods of time to get meaningful work done.” The ability to define one’s own workspace makes this much easier.
The Technology Behind the Change
High competition in tech recruiting and a young generation demanding work-life balance are driving forces in the growth of remote employees. However, the advances in collaboration and communication technology have made it possible. According to a survey by Deloitte, 44% of HR executives say they’ve either completed or are planning implementation of new integrated, cloud-based HR technology. The rise of the cloud and the focus on data-driven decisions in HR departments have made it possible to manage decentralized teams.
One takeaway from Yahoo and Best Buy is that remote or flexible workforces don’t work in every organization or with every leadership team. Companies are still trying to figure out how to manage a global workforce through global HR teams and/or remote workers. For the critics, Dan Martell, CEO and Founder of Clarity says, "Physical proximity does not guarantee collaboration. It's your company processes and values that decide that."
How has your organization handled remote workers? What advice do you have?