As businesses continue to struggle from the aftereffects of the COVID-19 outbreak and the economic impact thereof, we must aim to use this experience to learn and better prepare our companies from future disasters or worse yet, another outbreak. One of the biggest lessons to learn is realizing the benefits of remote staffing. Many companies would have had to shut down completely or would have filed for bankruptcy without it. I offer advice on this topic from a unique perspective as I have spent over 15 years in the BPO industry setting up and managing thousands of remote employees for hundreds of customers worldwide.
When the pandemic initially broke out, people worldwide made arrangements to work from home. Our company, ClarkStaff.com worked around the clock, in shifts, to get over 400 people added to our work-from-home network and fully operational in just over 48 hours. Based on our experience as a mid-sized firm, it’s safe to say that around the world, many millions more mobilized and got set up to work remotely as well.
Let’s look at some of the actual statistics of people who work remotely during this time and the predictions of what that will look like in the years to come. According to Gallup data and organizations like Workplace Analytics, around 56% of Americans worked remotely at least part-time during the shutdown. Further data collected in that same report predicted that an estimated 20-30% of the US workforce will continue to work from home and that number will continue to increase in the years to come. This is a staggering development from the pre-COVID-19 estimates of only 3% of the US population working from home as reported in the 2018 American Community Service (ACS) survey. In a nutshell, this means more and more business will be conducted virtually and at a faster rate than previously predicted.
Remote Staffing Software
We are already starting to see this trend taking shape by looking at the increased demand for cloud-based business management tools like SalesForce.com, Trello, Jira, TimeDoctor and more. These tools help to improve collaboration, reporting, and more effective business management when working with remote staff, no matter if they are working from home or in an office halfway around the world. These companies have seen exponential growth and their stock prices even performed well at a time when the rest of the market was crashing.
Managing Remote Employees
It’s not only the new technologies that you will need to learn but the way you manage your teams remotely will also have to change. The psychology and management techniques are different when dealing with someone remotely versus someone working alongside you in the same office. Some differences are handing out tasks to be fulfilled, collaborating on tasks together, time tracking and keeping up that company spirit and company culture.
Remote Staffing Agencies
In addition to the new technologies and new management styles, must come new recruitment and HR practices and with that, new types of recruitment agencies. Remote staffing companies not only help with the recruitment process but will need to go even further to also provide consulting and assistance in getting the systems in place to effectively manage remote teams. Making the transition for many business owners will seem daunting and scary without the right guidance.
As these changes seem to be permanent, we are entering a new era in the way businesses will be operated. That being said, lots of good will likely come out of it. Employing remote workers saves companies on infrastructure and office expenses and the technology that enables it all, helps to increase collaboration and productivity. In this new post pandemic business environment, the companies who can adopt, adapt and overcome these challenges will be the winners, while those who fail to embrace the changes will likely have a harder time moving forward.
The New Normal
To wrap things up, as bad as the pandemic was, we can expect new positive changes in the way business is conducted. If you try to fight the changes and fail to act, your business could suffer but if you embrace these new tides of change by employing remote workers and investing in the new technology, you can come out of this better off than before. Sometimes it takes a major disaster to realize the weaknesses in your foundation. As the old saying goes, disasters can be divine intervention in disguise. I urge all business owners to take this opportunity to to reanalyze their operations and try to find out where the “division of labor”, as Adam Smith put it, can help optimize their business while at the same help to inoculate their company from the next major disaster. In many cases, you can save money but also mitigate risk by not keeping your biggest asset, which is your employees, in one basket.
woman working from home -DepositPhotos