Tech firms like Yahoo and Reddit made headlines as they pulled the plug on support for telecommuting. What does that say about remote staffing?
Image by Simon Law
While some industry leaders recognize remote staffing as the future of getting things done, others opt to seemingly revert to the Stone Age. Last year, news of a remote staffing halt crashed into Yahoo’s offices. This scene played again, starring Reddit this time, as they told their staff, “move to San Francisco or get fired.”
Now experts are wondering just what the heck is going on, because there’s proof that remote staffing is actually a good thing for companies. PGi’s telecommuting survey showed that remote workers claim to be less stressed and more productive. The same study revealed that a remote staff setup raises employee morale, decreases absenteeism, and encourages higher business volume. These results illustrate existing cases of companies doing well with a staunchly mobile work setup.
So why did companies like Yahoo and Reddit have to do it? What went wrong?
When Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, found that some employees weren’t using their VPN often enough, she knew there was a problem. While Yahoo described this move as a tactic to improve collaboration, some speculated that this was a mass layoff without the costs that come with it. Whichever the purpose was, the move was a response to lack of control.
Michael Templeton, CEO of Citrix, stresses that it could have been remedied if Yahoo communicated their policies better. Even with communication tools there, if the policies weren’t conveyed and enforced well, it’s of no use.
Reddit suffers the same lack of control and, if their critics are right, lack of trust as well. Yishan Wong, company CEO, claimed that the decision was made for optimal teamwork.
David Heinemeier Hansson, founder of Basecamp, points out the drastic measures Reddit’s taking. All for optimal teamwork, Reddit risks losing about half of their entire workforce, majority of them responsible for bringing in company revenue. Instead of using available tools to communicate ideas and collaborate, they’d rather hire new people and offer severance packages to all their employees outside the Bay Area who refuse to move.
Is remote staffing bad for companies then? Not necessarily.
While a work-from-home setup doesn’t always pan out well, that by no means describes remote staffing in its entirety, because the concept of remote staffing has such a vast scope. There are a number of factors to consider for setting up remote work successfully and make remote staffing a good hiring option. These are just a few.
Your team outside the office can still work for you. They can even work from you from outside the country, but they need to do it from a professional environment. Sometimes, home doesn’t fit this description. Your remote team might find it ideal to work in offices with equipment they use exclusively for the jobs you’re having them do.
Key here is learning the culture of the people you’re hiring, and using that as basis to define what a professional work environment is. Once you’ve got that established, you’ll have a better idea of how to keep your team satisfied and productive.
Take it seriously. It’s important especially when you work with offshore hires. Smooth work demands frictionless conversations. Your recruiter could brief your offshore employees on the job, but the specifics on what you want done should all come from you. That way, your remote teams will be doing the job with your policies and your goals in mind.
So it’s vital that you reach your remote teams and that they’re transparent. To ensure that, you need to know how they prefer to communicate. You’ll also need to see how open they are to trying new ways to keep in touch. Try some collaboration tools and see if they work for you and your team.
You need to know how fast you want to grow, but more importantly, know the kind of people you want to grow with. A remote setup can certainly help you scale your business, whether you’re growing fast or you’re taking your time, but you have to do it with the right amount of the right people. You could get a recruitment service to help you, but we recommend that you stay involved in the hiring process. Gauge on both skill and personality when hiring to improve your chances of a good fit.
Remote staffing isn’t for everyone, but it’s not bad just because one or two tech companies outlawed it. Yahoo even said that their decision wasn’t so much about their view on remote staffing, but more about what they felt was right for Yahoo at that moment. An effective remote staffing setup is really all a matter of gearing it for success; the right setup would bring you collaboration, professionalism, and productivity much easier.
What’s your take on Yahoo’s and Reddit’s ban on remote staffing? Leave us a comment! We’d love to hear what you think.
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