Nearly a quarter of US workers did some or all of their work from home in 2016 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics , but corporate attitudes about remote work may be cooling. Citing a need to increase control over the workday and promote team collaboration, big companies such as IBM, Yahoo and the Wall Street Journal have recently reined in remote work programs.
Yet, a recent study by Indeed’s Hiring Lab reinforces that flexible work arrangements continue to gain popularity with job seekers. Among Indeed job search data, searches for flexible work arrangements as a share of all searches has steadily increased – up by nearly a third as of this July over the previous year’s period. Searches containing terms such as ‘remote,’ ‘telecommute’ and ‘work from home’ number over 6500 per million searches, as compared to 4500 just 18 months ago.
Rising interest in remote work likely means companies face an uphill climb in pulling back on these programs. In today’s labor market, with a 4.4% unemployment rate and an average of one job seeker per opening, companies may have to cede bargaining power to workers for benefits such as working from home.
In fact, many companies – such as Indeed – that find flexible arrangements conducive to their business model will continue to offer them to attract talent. To best ensure that remote work policies “work” for everyone involved, here are a few tips:
Hire carefully – We all want employees who are self-starters and doers, but these qualities are even more important for remote work. Then, trust the people you’ve hired to do their job.
Leverage technology – Use technology to stay in contact and keep remote workers looped in. Today, there are technologies for everything from video conferencing and group chat rooms to document sharing platforms.
Make sure everyone feels involved – Employ processes to maintain good communication between team members, including weekly update meetings, regular one-on-ones with managers, and a weekly “pipeline” report to make sure projects are on track and employees are on task.
 “In 2016, on days they worked, 22 percent of employed persons did some or all of their work at home,” American Time Use Survey, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016. https://www.bls.gov/news.release/atus.nr0.htm