- Companies are hiring more remote workers, but don’t have formal policies to support the practice, a new report from Upwork shows. Most hiring managers (64%) say they have the resources to hire remote workers, but 57% don’t have policies in place — a potential problem now that well over half of employers have remote workers, according to the freelancing website’s second annual Future Workforce Report.
- At companies that have remote-work policies, 45% of hiring managers said their policies have changed in the past five years, with 60% saying policies are now more lenient and inclusive. More than half (55%) of hiring managers said remote work is becoming more commonplace; five times as many hiring managers expect more of their team to work remotely in the next ten years than expect less, Upwork says.
- Most hiring managers (59%) agree that skills are more specialized now than they were three years ago, with 61% believing that skills will become more specialized during the next 10 years; and more than half (53%) of hiring managers said companies are accepting more freelancers, temporary and agency workers, or “flexible talent,” than they did three years ago.
As employers increasingly turn toward agility as a key business strategy, they've begun to realize that relying only on talent that can be found physically nearby limits talent acquisition. Increasingly, managers are looking to remote and flexible work arrangements to close their talent gaps — even if their companies don't have an actual policy on the matter, Upwork CEO Stephane Kasriel told HR Dive.
"Big companies are operating in the same mode as in the 20th century, but how managers work with their teams has changed rapidly," Kasriel said. That's why remote work has exploded, while policies on it have not caught up; managers are "willing to be responsible" for how they manage their headcount and employees, in lieu of company action on the issue. To ensure the programs are executed well, companies may want to consider adopting a formal policy. Though as the study shows, the policies do not need to be stringent to function well.
A challenge for employers is keeping remote workers engaged. The first step is understanding the difference between remote workers who are permanent full-time employees (FTEs) and contract, freelance, temporary or contingent workers. There are legal considerations separating the two groups, but when it comes to engagement, employers should expect a different level of commitment from FTEs than contingent workers.
To keep remote FTEs from feeling isolated, employers should use all means of communication to see that they’re receiving important news and notifications addressing organizational updates, policy changes and staff activities. A study by software firm Kollective, shows that remote FTEs often feel “out of the loop.”
According to a WorldatWork study, 51% of remote workers have work-related health problems. Managers can work with remote FTEs to make sure their offsite “offices” are comfortable, well-equipped and ergonomically correct to minimize physical injuries. Since remote workers often put in longer hours than onsite employees, burnout can be a health and productivity problem. Managers can check in with remote staff periodically to find out what their needs might be and to adjust workloads or recommend time off, if necessary.