Although companies around the world were forced to shift to remote operations due to the global pandemic, many are now considering—or already moving toward—remote work policies for the long term. They’ve found that as a business strategy, remote work, works.
Especially for those organizations with sights on global hiring, the rise of the remote-work culture represents a game-changer for their talent needs.
What is a remote-first culture?
In a remote-first culture, there may or may not be physical offices. Employees have the option to work from home or in a company workplace, but everyone—regardless of location—has the same access and opportunity to information, career development and advancement, and performance management. Additionally, some companies that adopt a remote-first culture also implement asynchronous communication, meaning work for every employee doesn’t have to happen at the same time.
A remote-first culture is not the same as a remote-friendly culture. In a remote-friendly culture, remote work is allowed or considered a privilege, but work is still defined by traditional office structures and policies.
The key is that in remote-first culture, work is what employees do, not where they go.
Advantages of a remote-first culture
Whether the organization is already heading down the remote-first path, or just considering it as an option, it’s important to understand the different ways a remote-first culture can benefit both employers and employees.
Happier employees. Several surveys indicate that remote workers are happier than those who go to the workplace. One, from CNBC/SurveyMonkey, reports remote worker job satisfaction at 57% compared with 50% office workers. In another, from OwlLabs, the contrast is even starker: 71% of remote workers say they are happier on the job, compared with 55% of onsite workers.
One reason for the satisfaction disparity between remote and office workers is a likely improvement in work-life balance. Especially for people who live in large cities, working from home removes the commute factor—commuters in the 15 most-congested U.S. cities spend at least 83 extra hours a year in traffic—giving time back to family, exercise, entertainment or whatever else an employee values. Another consideration that can contribute to happier employees is flexibility in how and when to work, especially for those workers on asynchronous schedules.
Employee productivity. That remote workers are likely more productive than onsite employees is not new. Even back in 2013, Stanford University researchers found a 13% workplace productivity improvement among remote employees, which includes fewer sick leaves. It makes sense—by removing the exposure to germs that may be in the office or among co-workers, employees likely don’t need to take as many sick days.
In a more recent study, 27% of employers reported that productivity is higher now, with employees working remotely, than it was before the COVID-19 pandemic. For employees with asynchronous hours, productivity can be even better, because they choose to work at times when they can limit distractions and when they personally feel most productive.
Expanded access to talent. Employers who embrace a remote-first culture open themselves up to a significantly deeper employee talent pool. Because they’re no longer limited to their immediate regions, companies can seek the best talent for their needs—virtually anywhere in the world. And because workers are remote, the organization doesn’t have to worry about relocation costs.
Recruiting talent from a wider geography also means the company can build a more diverse workforce. In addition to enriching the organization with a broader variety of ideas and employee experiences, a more diverse workforce enriches the bottom line: Companies with diverse teams produce 19% more revenue than those with less diversity, especially in industries where innovation is key to growth, according to a survey of over 1,700 companies in eight countries.
How to hire globally to support a remote-first culture
Because of the expanded talent opportunities that a remote-first culture provides, HR’s challenge may be to figure out how to hire the global talent they’re now able to recruit.
The simplest and most cost-effective route is through a global employer of record, which is sometimes referred to as an international PEO. A global employer of record has entities around the world that enable it to hire workers in compliance with all local labor, payroll, tax, banking and contract requirements.
If, for example, your remote-first organization wishes to hire employees in a country where you don’t have a legal business entity, you can contract with an employer of record to hire workers on your company’s behalf. You then manage the employees and their performance, while the employer of record handles the legal requirements. Though legally employed by the employer of record, the workers are, in effect, your employees.
An employer of record likely has in-country HR expertise that can advise you on local employment customs and cultural norms that can help you ensure all employees, regardless of where they live and work, have a positive experience with your company. Additionally, an employer of record can scale with you, enabling you to add to your remote employee footprint as needed.
Learn more about how our employer of record solution, Global Employment Outsourcing (GEO), is helping companies large and small advance their remote-first culture through international hiring—contact us today to speak with a global solutions advisor.