This year brought unprecedented changes to the 21st century working landscape as we knew it. As businesses were faced with the emergence of a global pandemic, many HR departments were not properly equipped to deal with the implications of social distancing measures on their office structures and work policies.
Now, approximately ten months after the pandemic forced businesses to close down their physical office spaces and fully transition to a remote workplace, both employers and employees have experienced the benefits and challenges of this non-traditional working environment. Here are some things companies will need to consider regarding remote work in 2021.
1. Hiring without borders
As we enter into 2021, we can anticipate an evolution in the hiring and recruiting space as companies tap into an expanded talent pool, offered by remote business models. The shift of companies embracing remote work will likely fuel a migration of working professionals as geographical barriers are reduced. HR departments will no longer be restricted to the centralized locations to surface the best candidate for a specific role and in the same vein, employees will have the opportunity to work for the companies they desire, from their location of choice.
We witnessed a snippet of this phenomenon this year as work-from-home policies prompted tech employees to flee central hubs like Silicon Valley in favor of their hometowns or regions with lower costs of living. Our research survey found that 58% of organizations have seen employees wanting to relocate overseas and 64% of organizations had employees ask to relocate to a different state.
While remote work opens the doors to global talent, it also presents an optimal opportunity for companies to address diversity gaps in their business and establish initiatives to foster an inclusive culture. As HR leaders have access to a much wider pool of candidates from various backgrounds, they must ensure adequate representation of minority groups at each level within their organization to reap the benefits of a diverse team.
2. Remote first vs remote-friendly cultures
As remote work becomes a standard option for companies, it will be critical that they define their business models as remote-first or remote-friendly. While most businesses now have the tools and processes in place to deal with employees working from home indefinitely, few have taken the initiative to transform their business into a truly remote company that can hire, manage, and work anywhere in the world.
In the long-term, hybrid models, which enable some employees to return to work, whilst others stay remote permanently, may lead to implications on the efficiency of the business, productivity, and overall culture. Hybrid companies must be conscious that their remote employees do not become resentful or resented for not being present in the same physical space.
Companies that are truly remote-first must differentiate themselves by providing their employees with all the necessary tools and equipment to do their jobs, regardless of their location. This would entail establishing a remote workplace culture, which includes asynchronous workflows for teams located in different time-zones and committing to an office-free environment.
3. The standardization of benefits in remote work
Another priority for businesses in 2021 is the standardization of benefits. Given the nature of remote work, employees no longer have access to office perks and benefits like onsite gyms or free Friday office breakfasts. Companies must be ready to reassess their employee incentives to create an appealing workplace culture for remote workers—which our research found to be an essential component to the success of many organizations. One way businesses can tackle this challenge is to source directly from their employees to evaluate which needs are most critical.
Amid the pandemic, mental health has become a top-of-mind concern for employees who may also be juggling parental duties in addition to work. As this is an often overlooked benefit, companies should consider offering telemedicine services that cover mental health in addition to physical health.
Going into the new year, businesses must re-evaluate their offerings and ensure that they have benefits and incentives in place which not only reflect the values of their organization but also meet the needs of a remote-first world.
4. The debate around remote salaries
This year, the salaries of remote workers have been a heavily debated topic as many employees uprooted from their office locations. We witnessed technology companies such as VMware and Stripe implement pay cut policies for employees who relocated to regions with a lower cost of living.
An alternative pay model companies can take is establishing flat salaries for workers dispersed among various geographical locations. As companies tap into a broader market of talent and global recruiting becomes a commonplace practice, we can anticipate an emergence of both pay models going forward.
In 2021, businesses that want to become truly remote will have to make a decision— whether they choose to implement flat rate salaries across the world or offer salaries according to location. Either way, they must ensure their workers that they maintain fair and consistent salaries across the board.
Job van der Voort, CEO and co-founder of Remote, an HR technology platform for international payroll, benefits, and compliance, knows what it takes to successfully build remote teams with a positive company culture. As the former VP of product for GitLab, he helped grow the company from five to 450 employees across 67 countries with no offices. Job now helps companies including GitLab, Loom, and Phaidra access the global talent pool.