Before the COVID pandemic reared its ugly head and changed the way people lived, remote work did not have as much traction as it does in 2022. Back then, companies hiring remote workers were often met with resistance. After all, it was hard for managers to devise ways to integrate traditional and remote employment systems. They thus followed through with the 9 to 5 systems that had prevailed since the 20th century and kept at it. But when the COVID pandemic hit, and governments everywhere started shutting down operations, managers had to go back to the drawing board and reassess their hiring practices. We look at how remote work has changed and how this has affected employees and managers.
Why Has Remote Work Become a Success?
A representative study conducted in the United States showed that one in every five people who had worked from home actively considered remote work. Moreover, companies soon realized that hiring online workers came with many benefits. According to an HBR study, companies that delegate some tasks to remote workers benefit from:
We all know that some companies hire talent that ends up sitting in the office and doing nothing, more so in cyclical industries. Take the example of a tour company. Some workers are unproductive during the slow months of the year because they have nothing to do. And yet the company still must pay them. Rather than fully staff the company when the number of clients declines, a company can hire online workers when the demand surges. Only a few staff remain throughout the year while the others chip in occasionally.
How does this help the company? From a management perspective, it is much better to pay for work done than pay people for merely showing up to work. As such, a company can cut back on labor costs.
The employees also benefit. Instead of showing up to work to sit and do nothing, they can use their skills to work in different places at a time. Recent statistics from Zip Recruiter show that the average freelancer takes home at least $5,000 a month. Those in the higher tiers take home close to $10,000 a month. Employees can stop grounding themselves in one job and take up as many opportunities as possible.
Did you know that labor costs can account for as much as 70% of business total expenses? When you factor in benefits, payroll, wages, and related taxes, companies spend a lot on hiring employees. And in some cases, these charges are not feasible. For example, assume a remodeling company wants to undertake a rebranding project but does not have the resources to do so in its labor pool. If the company were to follow the traditional route, it would need to hire the entire team, from the developer to the graphic designer to the copywriter. All these employees demand specific pay grades, and the resultant cost can be so high that the company has to forego the project. But when hiring online workers, companies don’t need to think about insurance or other employee costs. Instead, they negotiate the contract price based on a fixed amount or an hourly rate.
Why this helps the company – where overhead costs are not justifiable or attainable in a project, it’s still possible to go through with it. After all, hiring remote workers is less cost-prohibitive and much more flexible. The company can even hire one freelancer to do one task and wait a while before hiring another one to take on the last one. That’s unlike the case with full-time employees, where companies do not have the luxury to dilly dally as all tasks occur on their dime.
How this helps freelancers: While taking up such small tasks might not seem like much to the company, freelancers can rack up sizeable earnings by working with several companies. For example, a website designer can work for ten companies at once. And in so doing, they can get ten paychecks at the end of the month.
Access to More Resources
Sometimes, internal talent is not sufficient to undertake a project. Why? With organizational culture, employees often fall into groupthink and embrace a particular way of doing things. While this simplifies the processes in the company, it also bars employees from thinking outside the box. Their output may not align with the market needs and can affect a company’s ability to keep up with the competition. It’s become a norm to reach out to freelancers for remote work on creative projects. Take Netflix as an example. It often launches contests, allowing freelancers to pitch their ideas. This model enables the company to tap into more talent and develop ideas that sell to the market.
The company benefits from veering off the same old path it has used in the past, enabling it to gain brand recognition. This approach also freshens up the ideas in the internal talent, pushing them to think like their consumers. And for freelancers, this is a chance to showcase their skills, get paid for them, and amass even more clients.
Adoption of Technology
Remote work would not have been feasible without access to the internet. And with the metaverse on its way, we can only expect that hiring online workers will become more accessible. People can now work from their homes and deliver quality results as they would in the office. How so?
- 5G internet is now more accessible,
- More companies have invested in collaboration tools like Slack and ClickUp to enable their remote and internal workers to work together,
- Video calls have become the norm. Since COVID hit hard, most people had to find a way to keep up with their meeting tools. And software like Zoom and Microsoft Teams came in handy.
Of course, remote work adoption is still a learning curve. Companies and employees must find ways to foster collaboration and ensure no one gets left behind. They must also figure out how to enhance their data security measures to prevent themselves from cyberattacks.
How Has Remote Work Changed Workers’ Lives?
People who are lucky to work from home cite a better work-life balance, enabling them to juggle their social, financial, and physical wellness goals. Parents are now more present in their kids’ lives. Moreover, it’s now possible to work from anywhere in the world. Some people even travel the world while keeping abreast of what’s happening in their workplaces. So, workers no longer have to think about commuting to and from work. But it’s not just employees who are happy about this flexibility. Companies hiring remote workers can now downsize and move to cheaper locations, focusing on keeping a few employees in the office and hiring remote workers for other tasks. It’s a win-win situation for everyone!