Make Remote Work A Long-Term Option For Workplace Diversity

By removing the geographical boundaries, virtual offices open the doors to much wider pool of candidates.

I’ve been an advocate of remote work for a long time—ever since I read Remote: Office Not Required. As a result of the global pandemic, many companies have found ways to make this arrangement work. While the benefits of remote work are plentiful—happier, more productive staff, money saved, access to a wider talent pool—I think one of the most significant positive outcomes of offering remote work is increased staff diversity.

It’s widely accepted that a workforce rich in diversity is not only moral, but also makes good business sense. Companies with more diverse workforces tend to outperform their competitors by as much as 35 percent. It’s really a simple calculation: diversity is good for business, and remote work allows for a more diverse workforce.

With this in mind, it would be sensible for all companies to explore long-term remote options for their team. If you’ve been able to accommodate remote work during the pandemic, what are the obstacles that keep your company from offering this arrangement permanently?

If you’re able to overcome those obstacles, you’ll have a clear path for increasing diversity at your company—and with new people come new ideas and more innovation. When you hire remotely, you gain global ambassadors for your company all over the world. Hiring from different backgrounds and environments gives your business the benefit of diverse perspectives, which ultimately results in more effective solutions to your company’s problems.

Here’s how to shift your existing team to fully remote work and use your newly-established remote workplace to seek out diverse talent.

• Establish a robust project management system

In a Buffer survey of remote workers from last year, 17 percent said that “collaborating and/or communicating” was their biggest struggle while working remotely. This highlights the importance of providing a robust, effective project management system that allows your employees to easily and effectively communicate with one another. Email is not an effective way for remote employees to be connecting with each other. Instead, the company needs to provide remote employees with a centralized platform like Asana, where each employee can organize tasks by priority and communicate on specific projects. This gives everyone a clear view of the company’s big-picture goals and the detailed building blocks that will get you there. Proper technology is the foundation of an effective remote team.

• Collect and apply feedback from the team

Listen to your staff about what they need with this new arrangement. What’s missing now that they aren’t coming into the office every day? What do they need to make their jobs easier? Their requests will likely run the gamut—from improved phone technology to an office hardware budget to a virtual social group where they can build personal relationships with their colleagues. Whatever it is, you need to sort through their requests and identify which needs are the most urgent and useful, and provide them as quickly as possible.

Listening to your staff takes on a new importance with a remote team. You’re not all in the same building, so you need to encourage them to share their experiences and draw out information about what they need. Remote company culture must be rooted in explicit communication and trust, which is achieved by taking demonstrable action when your staff communicate their needs.

• Start hiring proactively

Remote hiring is very different from in-person hiring. Once you’ve moved away from geographical restrictions, the pool of potential is dramatically expanded. Hiring without these limits can be overwhelming.

While your employees no longer need to be within commute distance, you may still want to apply other, broader geographical limitations—say, within the same time zone or country. But for something like on-call customer service representatives, it might even be better for them to be in a different time zone than the rest of the team—their “day shift’” is actually the night shift.

Once you’ve established whatever minimal logistical requirements will be needed for a position, you can build a truly ideal profile for any new staff member. Sometimes, looking locally might prevent your company from hiring someone with all the experience or education you really want for a role, but not when hiring remotely. That marketing director with an MBA and ten years experience might be job hunting halfway across the world—it’s just a matter of finding her.

A Diverse Office is a Better Office

At SaleHoo, we’ve found remote work to be incredible for both our company’s culture and profit. I love knowing that our business is represented all over the world and that we are benefitting from an incredible, diverse staff of highly-talented people—truly, I believe, some of the best in the world.

At a time when many are dabbling in the realities of remote work, consider making this a long-term option for your company. A remote team can ensure that you’re getting a more diverse array of people and perspectives, which will ensure greater success in the long run.

Simon Slade is CEO and co-founder of Affilorama, SaleHoo and co-founder of Smtp2Go. Through these companies, Simon provides education and resources for ecommerce professionals to start their own drop shipping business, build an affiliate marketing business and achieve occupational independence. Simon can be followed on LinkedIn and regularly comments for Forbes, Fortune, SMH and NZ Business.