Brittany and I were invited to present at the Mountainland Economic Connection Advisory Board’s Better Your Business Breakfast Seminar on January 24 on the topic of the Untapped Potential of an At Home Workforce. LedgerGurus has been an all-remote workforce since our founding in 2014, so we have a lot of experience to share. Here are a couple of key points from our presentation.
Benefits of Remote Employees
Brittany shared LedgerGurus founding story and the fact that LedgerGurus was built for remote employees from day 1. What she didn’t realize was all of the benefits from remote workers and what an incredible advantage they can be. The benefits of remote workers include:
- Less Hiring Competition: There is a pool of employees who can’t work traditional, office-based jobs, but are great remote employees. In the case of LedgerGurus, we have hired women with children, often highly educated and experienced, but not interested in daycare or working full time. This has given access to a labor pool that is not constrained like most other workforce populations.
- Less Overhead: no office, no cubicles, no furniture, no utilities, and so on. The overhead of a remote workforce is lower.
- Technology Forward: the only way to make a remote workforce succeed is through the use of technology and this requirement for being technology-driven is beneficial with our services for our clients. It enables us to embrace more technology which provides greater efficiencies for our customers.
Benefits for Remote Employees
The benefits of a remote workforce are not one-sided. There are clear benefits for employees as well as employers:
- Flexibility: we don’t require shifts, so our employees have the autonomy to set their own schedule as long as they balance our customer and colleagues needs. As such, dropping and picking up kids from school, going to that class presentation, or anything else is easier.
- No Commute: who wants to spend an hour or more in a car? Commuting is a matter of logging in and getting started. That time savings can be spent on more work or more often more personal time. There is also a huge societal benefit. Imagine the air quality and traffic improvements if we could take 10-20% of cars off the road during commuting hours.
- Focus: some think working from home can be distracting, but it can also provide a lot of focus. Fewer meetings, fewer interruptions from that neighbor, and the ability to focus on getting work done. Home life can be a distraction, but it’s a distraction that remote employees can manage and control.
Challenges of Remote Work
Remote work isn’t perfect and there are many challenges that come with it. Here are a few we discussed:
- Deliberate Communication – the casual hallway conversations don’t just happen. Communication must be deliberate and fostered. We operate in teams, develop structured trainings, use group chat software for higher engagement, and do a lot of video conferencing to narrow the distance. Finally, community and culture is harder to create, but it is achievable again by being deliberate.
- Measure What Matters: presence does not equal productivity, but it can lull many managers into a false sense of security. With a remote workforce, you must get to the core of what work is and how to measure it.
- Identifying Good Employees: most people (but not all) would like to work from home. It isn’t for everyone as it requires a high level of self-discipline and is more isolating than a traditional office. Identifying those that can handle that is tricky, but doable.
We are big fans of remote work and believe it has helped fuel LedgerGurus’ success. What I outline here are brief thoughts behind which there are many experiences, learnings, and stories. We believe that every company has the potential to have some of their workforce be remote and encourage more to consider it.