Nowadays, many businesses are opting to hire remote staff rather than on-site personnel. This is primarily due to the wider pool of candidates available, as well as the potential cost savings. However, there are certain challenges associated with managing remote staff, which should be taken into consideration. It is also important for organizations to understand the differences between telecommuters, remote employees and freelancers in order to make an informed recruitment decision.
At the early stages of a company’s growth, the employment of a telecommuter, freelancer or full-time remote worker could have a positive impact on both productivity and morale. As the majority of individuals prefer to work from home at least part-time, it is important to consider who to employ sooner rather than later.
According to research conducted by Growmotely, 74% of professionals anticipate that remote working is likely to become the norm, with 97% of workers indicating a preference for not returning to the office full-time.
Let’s find out which of these groups of workers is most suited to your company.
The definition of a Telecommuter job.
A telecommuter is an individual who performs part or all of their job from a remote location, such as their own home. This may involve working for a certain number of hours each day or week, and may take place at a client site, on business trips, or other off-site locations.
The current conversation surrounding the management of remote workers has been increasing in recent times due to the outbreak of the 2023 pandemic. Quarantines were enforced to slow the spread of the virus, resulting in remote working becoming more prevalent.
In the months after the COVID-19 crisis peaked, businesses have been charting their course of action.
Remote working and hybrid working models are becoming increasingly common. Employees may opt to divide their time between the office and remote locations, accessing their work from home or other locations a few days a week.
Is It Worth It to Have Employees Work from Home?
The practice of remote working, also known as ‘telecommuting’, has become increasingly commonplace, even prior to the current pandemic. Data from the United States of America has shown that such working practices have increased by up to 173% between 2005 and 2023.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 has enabled remote working, many employees have enjoyed the additional liberty this has brought. Nonetheless, not all companies will gain from allowing some of their staff to work remotely.
It is essential to assess your organization’s ability to manage a remote workforce when considering the potential of telecommuting. While certain professions may not be suitable for a remote working environment, such as those in the manufacturing or security sectors, inadequate management can still lead to difficulties in a fully remote setting.
The primary benefits and drawbacks of this technique for your team will be discussed below.
The Benefits of Employing Remote Workers
- Effective Employees
Working remotely can increase productivity, as employees are able to work more efficiently in an environment of their own choosing. This provides the opportunity to complete tasks in a shorter amount of time.
A survey conducted by Amerisleep has indicated that 80% of respondents reported reduced stress as a result of telecommuting. This has led to an increase in productivity.
- Boosts Morale and Staff Retention
Listening to and showing care for your employees is the best way to build their loyalty and retain them as part of your team. With the current pandemic, the ways in which we work are changing drastically. Many employees are now reconsidering their ideal work-life balance, with a greater emphasis on remote and office-based working.
According to the most recent numbers from Owl Labs, 25% of workers would accept a 10% wage drop in order to keep their remote working arrangements.
- Increased Cooperation
Teamwork has undergone a transformation with the introduction of remote working. It is no longer sufficient to merely be in the same physical space or have numerous meetings; it is essential that we take advantage of opportunities to exchange ideas with each other.
By utilizing telecommuting, businesses can create workspaces tailored to specific tasks. Many organisations are now restructuring their offices to create more collaborative and communal areas. Despite employees being able to work from home for extended periods, they also have the option of visiting the office space to gain fresh insights.
Telecommuting Employees: Downsides
It May Lead to More Cyber Attacks, for One.
Deloitte, a consultancy firm, has reported a 35% increase in cyberattacks in response to the current epidemic. It is essential that organizations in charge of remote workforces ensure that all computer and mobile devices used by their employees are adequately protected.
Bring your own device (BYOD) regulations established by businesses last year were a contributing factor to the rise in cyber assaults this year.
Alternatives that Are Too Pricey
Most people have a misunderstanding about how costly telecommuting really is.
Please bear in mind the costs associated with renting workspaces and procuring necessary office supplies, alongside the investment in the necessary software and hardware to manage your remote team.
It May Cause Exhaustion
Working from home can be a great way to increase productivity, however it is important to be aware of the potential issue of burnout. It can be difficult to separate business and personal lives when telecommuting, which may lead to an increase in hours worked compared to working in a physical office environment. It is therefore important to be mindful of this and take necessary steps to avoid burnout.
75% of remote employees reported feeling burnt out on the job often, according to FlexJobs.
A Freelancer is defined as:
Freelancers are those who choose to operate alone rather than for an organization. Therefore, they act as their own boss.
They provide freelance services to numerous businesses, with the autonomy of independent contractors. This enables them to work in multiple capacities for different companies simultaneously. Freelancers are responsible for managing their own time, as well as all duties associated with the company, such as invoicing clients and filing payroll and business taxes.
Freelancers may not have a consistent presence in the workplace, depending on the terms of their contract. In some cases, freelancers may operate remotely and not need to physically attend the office.
Projections indicate that by 2027, the majority of the American workforce will be employed on a freelance basis, with 58 million people already having taken up such contracts.
Is It Beneficial To Your Company To Use Freelancers?
Hiring freelancers is a popular choice for businesses due to the low amount of administrative work required, the lack of need to provide benefits or paid time off, and the flexible payment terms, often based on an hourly rate.
Again, you need to evaluate whether or not independent contractors are a good fit for your company.
Independent contractors may opt to be remunerated on an hourly or project-based basis. Depending on the scale and duration of the project, freelancers may be more costly than permanent employees.
Freelancing is an ideal solution for businesses that need specialist skills for a short-term period. However, having full-time remote staff can be more cost-efficient if the same tasks need to be carried out over a longer period.
Let’s weigh the primary benefits and drawbacks of using freelancers.
Financial Benefit No. 1: You Can Avoid Spending
When you engage the services of a freelancer, you are only paying for the time they allocate to the task at hand. As freelancers are self-employed, you are not responsible for covering the cost of their healthcare, pension, or insurance.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70% of an employee’s remuneration goes towards their wage and the remaining 30% towards benefits. Employing freelancers may enable businesses to save up to 30% on labor costs, as they are self-employed.
The Second Benefit Is that They Are Simple to Find and Use.
It is clear that hiring independent contractors is now easier than ever. Popular freelancer marketplaces such as Upwork, PeoplePerHour and Freelancer.com have millions of professionals ready to be hired. With the increased availability of freelance platforms, consumers have a greater access to information enabling them to make more informed decisions. It is possible to check a freelancer’s abilities and ratings from previous customers before making a hiring decision.
Decreased Potential Financial Loss
Hiring employees can be a risky undertaking for start-up and small business owners. Incorrectly employing the wrong person for the job can have a costly impact. However, using independent contractors can help to reduce this risk. Not only can it save money on benefits such as health insurance and sick leave, but you also only need to pay for the hours they actually work for you.
By establishing a fixed fee for each project or an hourly rate, you can better calculate your budget and the financial risk of contracting a freelancer.
Hiring freelancers can present some challenges, such as a lack of dedication compared to full-time employees and a lack of understanding regarding the values and procedures of the business. This means that freelancers are primarily focused on completing the tasks required and receiving payment, rather than forming a long-term commitment to the organization.
This does not guarantee that contractors will complete work to a satisfactory standard. You may be lucky and find a contractor who is reliable and produces good quality work. However, it is not likely that they will be as dedicated and committed as a full-time employee would be.
If you are in the process of creating a website and have encountered an issue resulting in your website being down, you may expect immediate assistance from a full-time employee. However, freelancers tend to provide assistance when they are able to, rather than when required to.
Freelancers are not obligated to provide periodic updates. They choose their own hours and conditions for working.
Variability in Work Quality
When recruiting for a position within an organization, a rigorous process is usually followed. This involves vetting candidates through reference checks, assessing CVs and conducting multiple interviews before making the final decision. When employing independent contractors, the process is much simpler and faster; however, this can be a double-edged sword as there is no guarantee of the contractor’s performance once they start working.
Even with reference checks, there’s always a chance that a freelancer won’t measure up to your expectations.
Definition of “Remote Work”
Full-time employees who take part in remote working form a third group of workers, who are not given as much attention as freelancers, yet they can bring a high return on investment to businesses.
The term “remote worker” refers to employees who have the option to work away from the main office.
It is commonplace to utilize the terms “telecommuter” and “remote worker” interchangeably, however, these two concepts are in fact distinct. Remote workers who are employed full-time are in a position to carry out all of their duties without the need for an office, whereas telecommuters typically only work remotely on some occasions.
Is it beneficial for your company to employ remote workers full-time?
Having a full-time remote staff might be very beneficial if your company’s tasks can be completed totally online or in the cloud.
Many industries, such as manufacturing and security, are not typically suitable for full-time remote working due to various constraints. However, there are a few exceptions, and it is possible to carry out most forms of collaboration remotely.
Furthermore, as outlined in various parts of the essay, remote working appears to be here to stay. The current pandemic has encouraged businesses to become more adaptable, with Gartner reporting that 74% of businesses have plans to make certain employees permanently remote.
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of using remote employees for your company.
Advantages of Using Remote Employees
There Is a Larger Pool of Potential Employees from Whom to Choose.
If you are able to recruit remotely, you will have access to a much wider range of potential employees. This removes the limitation of recruiting locally, enabling you to source the talent you require more effectively.
According to IWG, a majority of recruiters (64%) agree that remote recruiting improves their chances of finding top-tier candidates.
Get Qualified Experts Interested in Working with You
In recent times, the privilege of working from home has become accessible to many more people. This has presented a great opportunity to recruit high calibre personnel. In the United States, there is a trend of people leaving their current roles in favour of a home-working arrangement.
A survey conducted by the Economic World Forum found that 40% of American workers would consider seeking new employment if they were required to return to the workplace after the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, 10% stated that they would leave their current job irrespective of future employment prospects.
Research conducted at Stanford University has revealed that businesses that successfully manage remote teams could benefit from a median increase of $2,000 in profit per remote worker. If your employees can work remotely, this could be a great way of reducing overhead costs such as an office and associated expenses.
In addition to cost savings, businesses may benefit from relocating their workforce to areas with lower average salaries.
Problems Associated with Using Remote Employees
It Has the Potential to Disrupt Teamwork in a Number of Ways.
It is essential that teams make an effort to come together in person when the majority of their work is conducted digitally, in order to foster a strong organizational culture.
It is essential for remote team members to collaborate as often as possible in order to maintain morale and productivity levels. Isolation can have a detrimental impact on the performance of a remote team.
It Will Force You to Rethink Your Approach to Management.
Working in an office environment enables you to be more involved with your team. It is easy to keep an eye on the progress of each individual’s work. As a remote team manager, the majority of your tasks will be completed independently, necessitating that you trust your staff to be productive.
If you are used to monitoring your employees closely, managing a remote team may appear to be a daunting challenge. It is important to adapt your leadership style to focus more on trust and transparent communication.
Difficulties in Expressing Yourself
It is possible that there may be new challenges when it comes to communicating with remote employees. These could include difficulties in providing project instructions to international staff members if English is not their native language.
It is essential to create reliable communication pathways as the basis for your processes and workflow. This may necessitate further clarification to avoid any misunderstandings.
Which One Is Best for Your Company, and How to Tell?
There may be confusion surrounding the distinction between telecommuters, freelancers and traditional employees due to their phrases being used interchangeably. After examining their similarities and differences, it is clear that freelancers are distinct from telecommuters and full-time employees as they are self-employed/independent contractors.
Telecommuters combine office-based work with remote working, whereas full-time remote employees never need to visit a physical office.
By taking the time to compare the key differences and assess all of the available options, you can make an informed decision about which option is most suitable for your business. To help you with this, we have provided a table on this page which outlines the main distinctions between the three types of workers.
Work-from-home employees may fall into three categories: full-time, part-time, and freelance.
Finding Advice on Who to Hire for Your Company
If you have any further queries regarding the financial and administrative implications of engaging remote staff, such as freelancers, contractors or permanent employees, it is recommended that you seek expert advice.
As a remote recruitment service, Works has successfully assisted numerous clients in identifying the most suitable start and end dates for their job roles. If you are looking for a proficient IT specialist to work remotely, please contact us for more information.