Opening the Office vs Working Remotely: Finding a Compromise

There are no two ways about it: the COVID-19 pandemic has brought havoc to hundreds of workplaces around the globe. Many have been forced to send employees home out of health concerns and those that have stayed open have put themselves and their employees at risk. Beyond that, most are dealing with boom-and-bust style business as customers either avoid their stores or buy in bulk to limit their exposure. 

 

To say a company hasn’t been impacted in some way would be naive.

 

Now businesses are under more pressure than ever to reopen. As already limited and confusing federal and state aid expires, most companies are finding themselves forced to decide between paying the bills and putting employees and customers at risk. Finding creative ways to strike a balance between staying remote and opening the doors has become a goal of most successful businesses.   

Staying Remote

Pros

There are certainly pros to staying as remote as possible. The primary one being that you are prioritizing employee safety and encouraging them to look after their and their family’s health. Focusing on taking care of employees and promoting a safe workplace for everyone is a valuable bonus both for employees and customers — some employees even love working from home so much they are hoping to do so permanently

 

Additionally, modern technology allows for employees in many sectors to do their jobs completely online. Likewise, employers can encourage their employees to capitalize on technology to keep track of their mental and physical health. The mental health aspect can be especially valuable when they are stuck working from home.  

Cons

Of course, there are some cons to stay remote as well. The biggest most employers are worried about is a decrease in overall productivity. This can come from several things such as an employee’s inability to easily communicate and collaborate with co-workers and partners. It could also be a problem associated with the many distractions that come from working from home. 

 

Many employers also feel as though their company culture is suffering while employees are working remotely. It can be challenging for employees to feel connected and part of a supportive workplace community. Fortunately, there are some ways to help maintain company culture while working remotely

Opening Offices

Pros

However, for some employees, the ability to get everything done while having employees work remotely is elusive at best. Some jobs simply require in-person service. For businesses that require some level of human interaction, opening up can be the only thing that will keep you afloat. And it might not be a bad thing — many people are eager to interact with their favorite stores in some way, even if it isn’t traditional.  

 

Many of the reasons that business owners are hesitant with continuing to work remotely are also major pros to reopening. You can more easily monitor the productivity of employees and work towards rebuilding company culture. The idea of moving back towards normal is also tantalizing and there are plenty of ways to be successful in reopening

Cons

The big elephant in the room for reopening is the risk of a Covid-19 outbreak in the office space. Forcing employees to come back and having an outbreak could bring all sorts of legal challenges to your business. This is especially true if your employees are completing high-risk jobs without proper protections.

 

Additionally, it can be a real issue for your company’s image down the road. Customers are not itching to go back to businesses that have experienced a COVID outbreak even after the risk has been mitigated. Choosing to open the doors too soon — especially with the massive rise in cases across the U.S. — could spell disaster for the company.  

Making a Decision

Deciding to keep employees working remotely or sending them back to work and reopening your public-facing business is really difficult. There are plenty of pros and cons to each choice, many of which could make or break your company. As you weigh your options, think about the risks, benefits, and needs of your company.

 

Don’t be afraid to get creative with your options either. To keep their businesses running, some companies have altered their products and services to make things that are in demand like hand sanitizer while others have greatly boosted their online services. Striking the right compromise may also involve switching things up for employees such as half coming into the office while half remain working from home. 

 

Weigh the pros and cons, choose what is right for your business and your employees. Sooner or later we will adapt and get through this difficult time and many companies will be better off for it. What have you been considering as a business leader and what has led you to make the decisions you are making?

2020 The Year of Remote Work

It is only June, and thanks to COVID-19, people have declared 2020 as the year of remote work. While telecommuting seemed beyond reach in most industries only a few months ago, this year it has become a necessity. The pandemic has forced employers to come up with novel and successful ways to keep their businesses afloat. For this reason, many companies have asked their employees to work from home. Google has taken the whole matter a step further and advised remote work to its workforce for the rest of the year. Even though some might struggle with this work mode, it is actually quite beneficial for both employers and employees.

Most employees are used to going to work and spending eight or more hours in the office. At first, the sudden change of routine may be strange for them. However, once they recover from the initial shock, they stand to gain quite a lot.  Working from the comfort of their home can considerably boost their productivity and performance. Also, it can have a huge impact on their mental and physical health as well.

The employees no longer have to waste their time commuting. They will be more punctual because traffic jams and parking spaces don’t pose an issue for them in the morning. Once they log on to the selected platform, they are in the workplace ready to reach their daily goals. As a result, travel and accommodation expenses are significantly reduced. If the companies ultimately switch to this work mode, it will bring substantial benefits to the environment too. The reduction of toxic emissions and pollution raises awareness on environmental protection.

What worries employers the most in this situation is employee productivity and performance. There are many distractions at home and most employees are forced to turn their space for relaxation into an office. However, with the right internal communication app, the employers have nothing to worry about. Effective communication is one of the pillars of a successful business. These collaborative business solutions keep everyone well informed and on the same page. Dropbox, Google Hangouts, or Google Drive allows employees to communicate and cooperate on different projects and documents simultaneously. The social aspect of the workplace isn’t neglected as coworkers now use online group chats instead of the good old chatting by the water cooler. Still, for boosting employee performance, everyone has to agree on the preferred communication tool. Forcing tools and channels might cause the opposite effect.

While it seems the pandemic is coming to an end, its consequences are yet to be felt in the months to come. Among good things to come out of this mess is definitely a stronger bond between colleagues. When employees have good work relationships with their coworkers and managers, it positively reflects on the business. Friendship and team spirit largely contribute to creating a healthy work environment. Working under such optimum conditions improves employee productivity and spurs their collaboration. Managers now than ever have to invest time and effort in team building activities and a pleasant work atmosphere. As a result, the employees will maintain their sense of belonging and actively contribute to reaching the corporate aims.

In the long term, remote work may change the whole attitude about work and provide some new perspectives. Millennials are swooping in and along with talent, come with certain expectations about the workplace and work process itself. One of their priorities is having a healthy work-life balance. For this reason, the younger workforce is largely attracted by flexible schedules and working hours. This would enable them to provide for themselves and their families while also pursuing other activities. If the companies want to keep and compete for top talent in the future, they have to make fundamental changes in their management. Allowing the employees to plan their own schedule might prove to be crucial when offering jobs to potential associates. Similarly, instead of being compensated for the hours they spent working, they would like to be rewarded for their accomplishments.

To conclude, due to the unprecedented situation, most companies have started working remotely. Although it seemed quite a challenge, employers have discovered numerous perks of this work mode. Employees are right on time for work and the commuting expenses are significantly reduced. On the other hand, what is boosted are productivity, communication, and collaboration. Through proper communication channels, everyone gets timely updates. As a result, they complete work tasks promptly and without any delays. Besides, remote work enhances work-life balance which is one of the top priorities of the millennials. Their work-related expectations will without a doubt, shape the workplace and the whole work culture in the years to come.

Benefits of Transitioning to a Remote Workforce

Remote working has increased greatly in popularity over the last few years. There was a 159% increase in remote workers between 2005-2017, and today 4.3 million people in the U.S. work remotely at least half the time.

 

It may have already been a rising trend, but the coronavirus pandemic has made remote working a reality for millions of employees across the country. Some of those workers may remain in their remote positions while others will eventually go back to a traditional working environment. Either way, it can be more challenging for some to work from home than others. 


As a business owner, it’s important to understand some of the pros and cons of remote work from the standpoint of your employees, as well as how it will impact your success. So, how can you help your employees transition to a remote workforce, and how can you keep both motivation and morale high even in uncertain times, when you’re not able to directly connect? 

The Pros and Cons of Remote Working

Remote working has many benefits for both businesses and workers. Though you might think your employees would be less productive at home, research has shown that 77% of employees are actually more productive when they’re working remotely. As an employer, some of the biggest benefits your business can gain from letting your employees work from home include: 

 

  • Increased retention
  • Less interpersonal conflict
  • More transparency
  • A lesser need for a large physical space
  • Attract better talent

 

For employees, the benefits include flexibility, freedom, and a customizable space to get work done. 

 

Many people benefit from working remotely because it helps to reduce their stress levels. Employees that are unhappy or stressed are less likely to be productive. Yet, 25% of workers cite their job as their number one source of stress. By allowing employees to work remotely, you’re showing that you’re invested in their long-term health and care about their mental and emotional wellbeing. 

Encouraging a Work-Life Balance

Speaking of mental health, one of the biggest challenges for remote workers is finding a work-life balance at home. It’s far too easy for someone to wake up whenever they want, shuffle to the couch, grab their computer, and try to “work” while watching television. While that might sound relaxing, it isn’t exactly productive or effective. 

 

A stable work-life balance is just as important for remote workers as it is for anyone who works in an office. 

 

One of the best ways to encourage a better balance is to have a separate office space or workspace from the rest of the home. The beauty of being able to do that is that employees who work from home can set up their office spaces in such a way that boosts their own creativity and productivity. Family members within the home should know that designated space is off-limits and distractions need to be limited throughout the day to keep work from bleeding into their personal lives. 

 

If you’re trying to make the transition to working at home, yourself, another great solution is to keep a normal routine. Wake up with an alarm and go over the same routine you would if you had to go into an office. Set normal working hours through the day, give yourself breaks, and “quit” working at a certain time each day. It’s easy to get distracted at home, so limit those distractions as much as possible by unplugging from unnecessary devices and keeping yourself as focused as possible. 

How Can Businesses Benefit?

There are a few challenges your business may face in utilizing more remote workers, including: 

 

  • Communication
  • Performance tracking
  • Security

 

Thankfully, technology has stepped in to combat most of these issues. For example, Zoom has added over 2 million users so far this year, largely due to more people working remotely during the coronavirus pandemic. But programs like Zoom and Slack are making it easier for employees and employers to connect on a regular basis without having to get together in person. 

 

In many businesses, the pros tend to outweigh the cons when it comes to encouraging remote work. Not only will your company cut down on costs, but companies who allow employees to work remotely have a 25% lower turnover rate than those that don’t. You’ll attract new employees, retain your best ones, and boost productivity all at once. 

 

If your business hasn’t yet jumped on board with the idea of remote working, this might be the perfect time to see just how impactful it can be and how both your business and your employees might benefit from making such a transition. It can take some time for everyone to get used to, but knowing how to make the change fluidly and efficiently can improve your employees’ mental health and boost your business all at once. 

 

Tips for Creating a Productive Home Office

Thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic, many people have found themselves working from home in order to keep their business above water and even to continue growth and success. When you’re in a leadership position, it’s important to stay motivated and productive while you’re working remotely so you can inspire others to do the same. 

 

The good news? Studies have shown that working from home can actually increase productivity

 

Having a designated office space for yourself while you work from home can help you to stay on task, inspire your team to do the same, and set your business up for continued success throughout these uncertain times and beyond. 

 

How can you create a productive work environment in your own home? Can an office space really make that much of a difference? 

Setting the Scene for Success

How you set up your office space can make a big difference in your productivity level. A good rule of thumb is to prepare a separate room or area of your home that will strictly be used as your office. As tempting as it can be to sit on the couch and work, there are a few drawbacks to that. First, more people than ever are using video conferencing platforms: 

 

  • Zoom
  • GoTo Meeting
  • Google Hangouts

 

As a leader within your business, you’ll want to make sure your space looks professional if/when your team is able to see it through an app or program. Not only does it set a positive example for them and can earn you a certain level of respect, but it can actually help your team members adjust to the “new normal.” Some people aren’t used to working remotely. Showing your team that you still have certain expectations for yourself and them while you all work from home will help you to maintain an office culture of success, even when you’re not in the office. 

 

You don’t have to go overboard with your home office, but there are a few basics you should invest in to set yourself up for success: 

 

  • A functional desk
  • A comfortable chair
  • Proper lighting (utilizing natural light can help to boost productivity)
  • Necessary technical equipment
  • Office supplies

 

Once you have what you need, you can go one step further with your home office setup by creating an environment that encourages productivity. Painting the walls a non-distracting, neutral color can help, as can adding a few plants to the room or mirrors to make the space look bigger and brighter. 

Maintaining Your Motivation

As a leader or HR professional, one of the responsibilities that may fall on you is keeping your team motivated and ready for success while you’re all working from home. That is difficult to do when you’re struggling to stay motivated yourself. 

 

One way you can improve your motivation is to keep to a routine. While it can be tempting to stay in your pajamas and sleep in, you should follow the same daily routine you used to get ready for work when you had to go into the office. Wake up at the same time, do your morning rituals, and get dressed as you normally would have done. 

 

Then, make sure you have specific working hours for the day. You don’t have to “clock in” at a specific time, but if you’re used to working 8-5, continue with that schedule. Be sure to take breaks throughout the day to avoid burning out or feeling overwhelmed by some of the challenges that can come from remote working. 

 

The most important thing you can do to maintain motivation is to strike a healthy work-life balance. When you limit yourself to working certain hours of the day, you can dedicate your time after work to your family, your children, or even to self-care. 

Be a Resource for Remote Working

Not everyone is used to working remotely, and some employees will handle it better than others. It’s important for you to be a resource to all of your employees of all different ages. Communicating effectively to the different generations who work with you will help everyone to feel more comfortable and knowledgeable about what’s expected of them during their time working at home. 

 

It’s still your job to banish stereotypes, rethink company culture, and use as many different forms of communication as possible to defuse generational conflict. Walk your employees through apps like Zoom for meetings, or how to connect with you one-on-one. If you’re worried that some of your older employees might be struggling with working remotely, check in on them. Or let technology come to the rescue by using apps like CircleCare, which can help you to directly connect with employees. Encourage them, motivate them, and check in on their mental health and well-being. If you have workers who are struggling to transition to the remote lifestyle, be a resource for them to make the adjustment easier. 

 

You might also consider hiring more remote workers during this time, especially if your business has picked up or you need knowledgeable, independent contractors to fill in the gaps. 

 

This current pandemic has shown businesses across the world how valuable remote working can be. For some people, it might become the “new normal.” For others, getting back to a traditional office environment will be the most beneficial thing. Focusing on keeping your team motivated and successful at this time starts with what you can do at home, so be sure you have an office space that keeps you on task. 

 

Tech-Savvy Hiring for a Remote World

There’s no denying the business world is going remote.

Over time, advancements in technology have grown to such an extent that the need to drive back and forth from an office is quickly becoming a thing of the past. In fact, some reports state that 70% of people around the world work from home at least one day per week.

Luckily, this revolution has provided human resource teams with a slew of new tools that make acquiring the best remote talent easier than ever. Video software, translation services, and applicant tracking systems are all helping companies around the world find the top talent, and the businesses that utilize them the best may come out ahead.

Preparing Your Business for Remote Work

Introducing remote employees into your company is not a process that can be taken lightly. Before you even begin to think about your staffing needs, you first need to ensure that your current systems are properly designed for remote work. It can be quite an undertaking, which can be made easier with professional user testing.

The process usually involves hiring a firm to find individuals with testing experience who will sign onto your systems and perform tasks and tests that you request. One of the most significant advantages of remote user testing is that you can use either local testers or individuals from around the globe. This independent testing will mimic the work environment of your future remote employees and give you validation that your systems are working correctly. Remote testing is also less time consuming, as you are not wasting resources by bringing individuals into your office.

In most cases, HR won’t be able to see the remote tester actually working through the tasks live and will instead get a recording at the end along with any follow up questions. Once findings are recorded and tweaks are made, a second round of testers should come in to ensure that all systems are ready to go. Testing should also be completed down the road as system updates are implemented.

Applicant Tracking Systems

Once your remote operations are up and running, it is time to find your employees. The first step of that process includes sending out a job listing and then receiving applications. When you open the flood gates and hundreds of resumes come flowing in, organization is key. This is where applicant tracking systems can save the day.

When applicants send in their resumes, the tracking system files and sorts the applications in order to present them to HR and the hiring manager in an orderly fashion. The manager can then use the system throughout the rest of the hiring process to set up phone interviews, collect background information, and send out final hiring paperwork.

As technology advances, so do the tracking systems, and current models can compile the resumes as well as “read” and rate them based on how well they match the job description. The significant benefit of using these systems is that they cut down on administrative tasks, and the quicker you can get your remote candidate through the process, the less likely they are to look elsewhere and opt for a different job. If you are looking to expand your remote operations over time, then you want to cultivate this positive candidate experience to create good word of mouth and avoid future turnover.

Advancements in Video Interviews

With the proper candidates selected, the selection process then moves onto the interview phase, and if you are looking outside of the local area, then in-person interviews may not be feasible. Luckily, advancements in video technology are making the process easier and as seamless as if the individual were sitting in the same room. One current trend is providing potential first-round candidates with a “one-way” interview where questions are supplied, and the applicant can answer them via video on their own time. This way, the candidates can feel less nervous and more natural, so that HR can get a better idea of their personality before the face-to-face video interview.

As time goes on, more advanced video interviewing software is coming into the limelight. Video packages, such as that developed by MyInterview, allow you to not only talk to the candidate live, but the software also uses machine learning to analyze the applicant’s answers for professionalism and reasoning skills. Another advanced program is VidCruiter, which offers a suite of tools, including a system that ranks candidates based on qualifications and intuitive filters that specify the candidates that you should interview first.

When reaching out to candidates on an international level, it is important to find the best candidates while keeping expenses in check. There are also potential language barriers to overcome. Calling the applicant with the help of an over-the-phone interpreter could help you to fill in the blanks. The last thing you want to do is miss out on a great employee simply because you can’t communicate properly.

The remote landscape is growing at a steady pace, and if employers want to stay ahead of the pack, they must utilize these remote hiring tools.

Image Source: Pexels

Providing Support to Employees With Serious Health Conditions

When an employee has a serious health condition, a certain level of accommodation is legally required. However, an employer’s obligation doesn’t stop there. Every person with health issues has their own needs, which may change over time.

Building and supporting employee wellness in the workplace means using effective communication tools, supporting employees by helping them access information, providing flexible work opportunities, and staying attuned to their changing needs.

Confidentiality, Empathy, Openness, and Support (CEOS)

Fostering a positive workplace culture is essential. CEOs, as well as management, needs to embrace the importance of CEOS. This acronym stands for confidentiality, empathy, openness, and support — the necessary foundation to build trusting relationships on. These tools can help you communicate with your employees about health challenges and support them:

  • Confidentiality: The last thing you want is a distrustful employee who ghosts you and fails to communicate, and the last thing an employee wants is to lose their job due to health issues or needing time off for appointments at the doctor’s office. By ensuring confidentiality when discussing healthcare concerns, you provide a foundation for better communication.
  • Empathy: When an employee faces a healthcare crisis, they may feel conflicted. They want to feel heard and understood, but they also need to remain professional and carry out work obligations. Many employees simply quit or find themselves laid off after facing a health crisis, so they may feel that it’s a risk to have a conversation with you about health-related topics. You can retain an employee’s trust by showing empathy. Listen actively and ensure you understand their needs and concerns by summarizing and confirming. A little empathy can go a long way.
  • Openness: Openness means you’re ready to support your sick employees when they come to you. This involves preparation. It’s also about how open the employee wishes to be about their illness. Some may find help in sharing details about their struggle, while others will wish to remain extremely private about it.
  • Support: Confidentiality, empathy, and openness are paths to support. If you’ve managed to implement these objectives, you can offer support to the employee. The best thing you can do here involves asking the employee what they need and helping them find a solution you can employ.

Understanding Invisible Illnesses

Invisible illnesses are especially important for managers and HR professionals to understand. Especially when it comes to chronic health pain and related conditions, you can’t always see that someone is in pain or understand their pain level.

When individuals suffer from chronic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia, they may experience periods of remission (when there is little to no pain), as well as flare-ups when symptoms are at their worst. For some, this status can change in a matter of hours, and factors like the weather or office temperature are not-so-obvious contributors to pain for some patients.

Regular treatments for some conditions can create more pain in the short-term to improve health overall. Examples include physical therapy and chemotherapy.

Many employees facing invisible illnesses, including digestive illnesses like GERD, also need to make significant lifestyle changes, including new medications. Further, new diets and exercise routines can impact how employees relate to family and friends — and they may entail a real adjustment period for the employee.

Overall, managing chronic health conditions is different than curing them. Accepting major life changes after being diagnosed with a chronic health condition can be traumatizing, and finding specific solutions for pain management is often a challenging road.

Mental Health Considerations

One in five people have mental health issues, and these are not immediately obvious. Does your company have a policy allowing for mental health days? What do you do to take mental wellness as seriously as physical health? Thinking ahead can help you support employees in this regard.

Mental health conditions often accompany serious physical health conditions. Dramatically changing pain levels, various medications, and the strain of being sick is very taxing on the mental health of people with physical illnesses. Plus, it’s not always obvious: Many car accident survivors develop PTSD, so even the act commuting into work can be extremely stressful for them.

Three out of four PTSD patients respond well to medical marijuana, but many businesses are a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to marijuana use. Does your company policy on drug testing accommodate employees suffering from mental health issues or chronic pain?

The Insurance Problem

If you’ve ever been sick while covered by employer-sponsored health insurance, you likely understand how defeating and demoralizing it can be to deal with the insurance company. This problem magnifies when you have a serious condition like cancer.

To help employees access their insurance, make sure you have the insurance company’s contact information on your employee portal and in your welcome materials. Ensure this information is clear when you provide employees with any information about benefits packages as well.

While you aren’t customer service for the insurance company, survey your employees routinely. Stay aware of recurring gripes about the health insurance coverage and attempts to communicate with the insurer.

Human Resource Technology

Especially for larger organizations, human resource technology is crucial to supporting employees with health conditions. Provide a centralized location that harbors documentation and contact information for employer-sponsored insurance. Include contact information for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — not only to provide the resource, but to show that your organization values conversations around mental health.

Software tools like Zenefits and Bamboo HR allow you to provide digital resource centers to your employees. Additionally, many employees struggling with serious health conditions have a more challenging time with professional development. Your digital resource center can provide a framework for employees to learn about and express interest in new positions, participate in self-training, and provide feedback on whether they feel you’re using their skills fully, which is crucial for neurodiverse employees who require direct feedback.

Managing Remote Employees

The most common accommodation for employees with serious health conditions is work-at-home flexibility. In the United States, 36 million people miss work due to pain at least once per year. Most of these workers lose between four and five hours per week due to pain issues, and most chronic pain sufferers feel like they are not effectively managing their pain alone or with the help of a doctor.

For a chronic pain patient, working at home can mean the difference between missing work and showing up. For the person having a panic attack every time they get in the car due to a recent car accident, a temporary work-at-home solution not only enables them to work but shows you have empathy for their experience.

Off-site employees can interface with on-site teams easily by leveraging tools like:

  • Skype for Business: This provides face-to-face and text-based communication instantly.
  • Time-tracking tools: Time-tracking software allows all employees to log in and out electronically, preventing the need for micromanagement, especially for at-home workers.
  • Project management tools: Programs like Trello and Asana allow employees in various locations to work with one another to complete pieces of projects.

With communication, compassion, and reliance on technological resources, you can support employees facing serious health conditions and enable continued productivity through flexibility. Only then will you reap the benefits on employee engagement.

How to Find and Hire Remote Workers

01 Remote Workers

Hiring remote workers is becoming more commonplace by the day. Remote workers tend to be more productive and considerably less stressed compared to their office-bound counterparts. Hiring remote workers also provides companies, both small and large, a big advantage when it comes to the quantity of candidates available for hire.

There’s a lot to learn about remote workers and in this article we will cover everything from the different types of remote workers, to how to find and hire them.

What is a Remote Worker?

A remote worker is a person who works outside of a conventional office environment. This does not necessarily have to be from home; the employee could even be working from a coffee shop or other off-site establishment.

Companies use different names to identify remote workers, some of these include:

  • Virtual workers
  • Remote employees
  • Telecommuters
  • Web workers
  • iWorkers
  • Mobile professionals

Do You Need Remote Employees?

Having access to remote workers can be a godsend, especially when your company needs help filling open positions. However, there are some disadvantages that should be taken into consideration when deciding whether to hire remote workers. Below we discuss the pros and cons of remote workers.

Pros of Remote Employees

  • You can hire both foreign and domestic workers from locations outside of where your physical offices are, giving you access to a greater talent pool.
  • Using remote workers to outsource certain tasks can save money.
  • If managed right, remote employees in various time zones can enhance the ability to ensure work is getting done around the clock.
  • Employees working remotely have less workplace distractions and are less susceptible to stress.

Cons of Remote Employees

  • If you choose to hire remote workers from overseas, language barriers can come into play.
  • Not being able to meet in person on short notice can cause communication difficulties.
  • It can be much harder to train and onboard new employees who are not in the office.
  • Company culture and camaraderie can suffer from having too many remote workers. Spending time at the water cooler interacting with coworkers is a great way to get to know people’s lives outside of work. This can help nurture better workplace interaction and communication.

Finding Virtual Employees

Where Should You Look?

Although you can find remote workers on a number of major job boards, it is important to note that there are plenty of websites that are designed specifically for remote workers. You are more likely to find suitable employees on these websites with the skills and desire to work remotely. The following are some platforms that are worth considering:

Create Effective Job Postings

You will have to write job postings that get the best remote workers excited to apply for your position. These workers are typically more on the freelance side of business and are usually entertaining more than one job or job offer at once, so creating a job posting that makes people want to work for you is key.

You can achieve this by including your website link, links to various articles that reference your business, information regarding owners and founders, and anything else that can reinforce your reputation/culture as a company. Another good strategy is to include a blurb on your job posting that discusses what life is like as a remote worker at your company. This will let applicants know that you have a fleshed out process for hiring remote workers, making them more likely to apply.

Also important for finding and attracting qualified remote employees is utilizing the many recruiting tools at your disposal. Some of the key resources that should be in your recruiting tool belt are:

  • An applicant tracking system
  • Social media recruiting strategies
  • Performance reviews of past employees to know what works for your company

Interview to Identify the Best Workers

Interviews are always a critical part of the hiring process; however, with hiring remote workers, it’s even more important to get it right.

Draft a suitable email introducing your organization a little more, and ask the candidates to answer about five to ten questions about themselves. Focus these questions on how they will handle various tasks that are relevant to the job. Through these answers you can approximate how eager and motivated candidates are to work for your company.. With remote workers, traits such as conscientiousness, intrinsic motivation and ambition are going to be more important than ever.

With this slimmed down list of remote candidates, it is important to ask the right interview questions. Since these workers will not be under direct supervision, make sure to properly evaluate their abilities, personality and confidence relating to the role. You can ask questions such as:

  • How do you schedule and organize your work day?
  • How do you manage your calendar?
  • How do you organize links, files and tabs on your computer?
  • How do you prioritize tasks?

The ability to concentrate in a distracting environment is an important ability that all remote employees must have. Lack of supervision makes people more prone to various distractions, so a strong work ethic is going to be key.

Look for candidates who have been successful in jobs that involved ownership of projects and activities, and unsupervised time at work. This will ensure you hire the best remote workers.

Final Thoughts

Hiring remote workers is an effective method for solving critical staffing problems as well as raising both productivity and employee morale at your organization. However, it’s important to consider the cons of remote workers as well to ensure it is the best option for your company.

Finding, interviewing and onboarding remote workers can be an involved process. Newton Software offers a full service applicant tracking system built by recruiters who understand the hardships of the recruiting process. Check us out and hire the best remote workers in the most efficient way possible.

Unemployment in Changing Times – Are Seasonal Workers Protected?

Written by Jackie Edwards, specially for The HR Tech Weekly® ▸

Unemployment in Changing Times - Are Seasonal Workers Protected?

In many industries, there is an ever shrinking demarcation of the traditional working day. The fact is, we live in a 24/7 consumer society, and those demands are cascaded through to businesses throughout the value chain. This is particularly the case in the tech industry, where the growing trend in flexible and remote workers means the boundary between home and work balance is becoming ever more blurred. When it comes down to it, the 9-5 working day and 35 hour week with time off for good behavior that was the norm for our parents and grandparents is actually quite a rarity today.

But flexible working practices do not just mean fitting hours to suit personal and business needs, and seeking that holy grail of 21st century existence, the mythical work life balance. Seasonal work is also becoming more common in industries outside the traditional farming and recreational sectors, and is starting to be seen in everything from retail to back office to academia. Here, we take a look at how employment law applies to workers falling into this ever widening category.

Claiming Unemployment Benefit

Even for those who have been in regular employment within the HR tech industry, the rules might seem complex due to variations between states, but the underlying principles are simple enough. If the worker has been laid off through no fault of his or her own, and meets the requirements for the amount of time he or she was in work, then benefits are available.

For seasonal workers, the same principles are in play, but they are a little more complicated to navigate. Specifically, the lack of work at certain times is an understood and acknowledged part of the deal. As such, workers are not actually unemployed, and so many states will not subsidize them during this “lull” period.

States that have a more generous attitude towards seasonal workers, typically those with a significant tourist sector and therefore a larger proportion of people falling into this category, calculate the amount payable on the basis of what was earned during the base period, just as they would for someone who had been in full time employment.

How about Contractors?

Almost three quarters of employers use contractors to provide tech support at one time or another, so how is this sector affected? Only an employee can claim benefits, and in the vast majority of cases, contractors are considered to be self employed, and are therefore ineligible. Even more complex is where the contractor hires seasonal assistance. In this case, however, the key word is “hires” – the assistant is not considered an employee any more than the contractor is, and therefore is not generally going to be able to claim unemployment.

If in doubt, ask

The above all suggests that where unemployment benefits are concerned, the deck is clearly stacked in favor of full time workers, and it could be argued that seasonal employees are not as fairly treated as they could be. Ultimately, though, it is important to remember that rules can vary significantly, so if you are unsure regarding an individual’s eligibility to claim, it always makes sense to check with your state unemployment office to get specific advice.


Not everyone fits the traditional, eight-to-five, year-round job scenario. Seasonal employees work for defined, often short periods of time during specific times of the year. This phenomenon is created by variations in certain industries that are affected by seasonal shifts in demand or weather-related impediments.

Click here to learn more: Unemployment Rules for Seasonal Workers | AboutUnemployment.org

Benefits Of Working From Home | The HR Tech Weekly®

Benefits Of Working From Home

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Working from home is not an easy walk. It’s different from what other people think about a remote worker. It requires more discipline and responsibility, more self-motivation, self-engagement, and self-control. It gives you less freedom while many think opposite. And finally it may give you more working hours in fact with an early start, later end and less breaks.

So, why a lot, lot of people make their choices for working from home? Why companies tend to hire remote workers? What benefits it gives to both sides? How it is influenced by the economy and technology? What is the best way to organize the remote work both for employers and for employees? A lot of questions…

Gig-economy or on-demand economy and digital technologies give people new exciting opportunities, from one hand, and determine their choices from the other one. Relations with remote and contingent workers and organizations became more contractual, more entrepreneurial, and more like with the third parties before the world of work has changed.

Modern HR technologies allow organizations to keep people engaged, stay connected, let them feel on board and be a part of the team while staying miles away. But it’s harder than just control over the process and results. It requires new hard and soft skills from HR and line managers.

The new infographic from Nucleus gives us an overview on a phenomenon of the remote work as well as some insights about new challenges for managers and workers, and technologies that could help to organize it better.

Nucleus Smart Office Solutions


If you want to share this infographic and original comments the reference to Nucleus, Alexey Mitkin and The HR Tech Weekly® is obligatory.

 

Signs it is Time to Take Your Organization Virtual

Signs It Is Time to Take Your Organization Virtual

Signs to go virtual
How to ask your boss that you want to do your work from home?

Is It Time to Take Your Organization Virtual? Here Are the Signs It Is

The on demand skills based economy is here. With today’s top talent adapting to the new climate of the workforce, organizations now must find new ways to engage and retain their staff while bringing in the best talent available as needed to survive and thrive in complex economic times. The workforce has taken their careers and income earning opportunities into their own hands and crave the flexibility that virtual organizations provide. Whether you need to incorporate contract or freelance work into your operations or want to give flexible working arrangement incentives to your existing permanent team, there are many benefits to taking your business virtual.

Below are a few signs it may be time to take your organization virtual.

Your Industry Has Already Shifted

Does the competition incorporate contract and temp work for their teams to execute projects and deliverables? Do they have satellite offices with less overhead dispersed throughout a greater geographic region than you? You may be paying for more office space than is required or missing opportunities for growth by not shifting alongside your competitors that are gaining more market share through virtual teams and contracted project management.

Accessing the Best Ability When You Need It, Cast a Wider Net for Talent

Human capital is and always will be critical for organizations to grow. The top talent of today’s workforce is already embracing the shift of the gig economy for their careers. Contract and freelance work for projects may be one of the only options for reaching some of the most talented professionals that you do not have access to in traditional employment engagements. Leverage the strengths, talents and skills of top performers available to compliment your permanent staff. Changing up your business model to attract and leverage the best talent available for your organization is critical and inevitably necessary. There are specific projects or initiatives that do not require full time engagement, try contracting out this work with the support of your existing team.

There is Flexibility to Be Gained by Both Sides with Less Commitment

A short term project to gauge ongoing working compatibilities allows each side to have less binding ties than an official employment contract. By allowing both sides to test the waters, there is flexibility to expand working relationships or simply part ways conveniently for both parties.

You Already Leverage Collaboration Tools in the Cloud

The cloud is here to stay and the same tools that are used for internal personnel communications and document management, have made their way into the workforce. The same affordable tools already invested in, can be leveraged by personnel logging on from anywhere. Programs such as Office 365, Dropbox, Slack and Google Drive allow teams to collaborate from dispersed locations in different time zones to accomplish tasks and achieve goals remotely. Implementing electronic systems and procedures will be necessary but also provide the necessary guidance and structure to improve operational efficiencies and help designate roles and responsibilities between members of the virtual team.

You Want to Incorporate Work from Home Policies as an Incentive

More and more companies are realizing the benefits of an engaged workforce by offering the flexibility to incorporate part time working from home policies. As with any incentive, it has to be carefully managed so teamwork can be developed through defined deliverables with accountabilities in place. Conference calls, in person meetings, team brainstorming sessions can help teammates engage virtually while allowing them designated time to manage their personal and professional lives more flexibly.

You Need to Scale with Speed Affordably

Small dispersed teams optimally performing are considered a threat in today’s workforce. With the right mix of trust, relationships and business process, virtual teams can deliver unprecedented results with the right controls and check and balances in place. Having a plan in place with defined goals and objectives so the project delivery can be optimized by the virtual team’s performance will be a key to the team’s success.

Your Management Team has the Soft Skills to Manage Virtually

Teamwork and accountability can be fostered through well-defined objectives and project management milestones. Team engagement through regular meetings that encourage brainstorming, strategic discussions, presenting and reporting will help make the virtual team successful. Periodical in person face-to-face meetings and engaging collaboration tools that allow you to share mini bios and personal pictures can help develop comrade from teams that do not regularly work together. Leaders of virtual teams need to have the right balance of soft skills and technical aptitudes to adapt their management style accordingly.

Is it time to take your organization virtual?

About the Author

Eric Apps, Organimi

Eric Apps is a seasoned technology entrepreneur, lawyer and early pioneer of today’s growing modern workforce methodologies. Eric has owned, operated and held board or senior management positions in several public and private technology companies. Today he is partnered in Aluvion and Organimi, Canadian law and technology firms, where he is an early adopter and advocate of building virtual teams and services to grow his companies. By leveraging the power of new technologies to streamline workflows, while utilizing a virtual network of highly skilled, and highly responsive professionals to develop his companies, Eric is a thought leader and advocate for the growing freelance/gig based economy.

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For more information, visit http://organimi.com

To book an interview or to request information, please contact Nicole Ragno at nicole.ragno@organimi.com

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