How Leaders Can Embrace Remote Work Culture in 2023

ProfilePicture of Damien Filiatrault
Damien Filiatrault
Founder & CEO
Workflow of a remote team with video calls, code, diagrams and conversations

As companies openly discuss and share their working models following the COVID-19 pandemic, employers and employees alike are voicing their opinions on remote, hybrid, and in-office policies. This is a prominent discussion in the technology sector, where the nature of our work – being based in the cloud and on computers – doesn’t confine us to traditional, in-office models.

However, this debate is not limited to this sector: many companies that haven’t traditionally been considered “tech” now have significant parts of their business related to software and technology, which has increased the number of companies with employees that could easily do their jobs outside of a traditional office. 

Table Of Contents

Remote vs Hybrid Work Model: An Ongoing Debate

Many prominent tech companies have made their positions on remote vs in-office policies clear. Slack and Shopify have notably shared their decision to remain remote first. On the other end of the spectrum, Elon Musk sparked debate when he announced the end of remote work for Tesla employees, stating that “everyone at Tesla [would be] required to spend a minimum of 40 hours in the office per week”, – (though there is a long list of things Elon has publicly claimed, many of which did not come to pass).

The conversation around remote work has proponents and detractors, to be sure. During the pandemic, companies received a crash course on collaboration tools and project management software to rapidly adjust to a new style of work. They experienced the benefits and drawbacks of remote work. 

Organizations that were successful in adapting to a remote workforce have been able to tap into its benefits and opportunities. On the other hand, those that struggled may be reluctant to implement hybrid or remote models in the future. Unfortunately, this might be to their detriment. Much of the talent market is showing their desire for remote work environments, with many willing to accept lower salaries in exchange for working from home. The landscape of working remotely and the lens through which we view the economy has been forever changed. 

At Scalable Path, we have long believed remote work is the future. Now, we’re feeling this more than ever. Of course, there are strong arguments to be made for it as well as myths to dispel. But the reality of an increasingly interconnected world means that future pandemics may be an inevitability, posing a legitimate risk to businesses going forward. From an environmental perspective, our rapidly warming climate could be mitigated in part with a reduction in commuter traffic. And clear research demonstrating employee happiness and well-being with remote work support a more permanent transition to remote working models. 

With much to discuss, in this updated blog post we’ll reiterate the arguments for a remote workforce while addressing lingering concerns for those still unconvinced.

Six Benefits of Hiring Remote Workers

1. You’ll be More Able to Attract Quality Candidates

Today, the prevalence and opportunity for remote and hybrid roles makes it such that candidates can (and will) request it. This is especially true for high-performing candidates, who know they can secure a remote role with the same or similar pay to one that requires them to be in an office.

The flexibility of remote work is an enormous attraction for candidates. According to data from Buffer, as many as 97% of currently remote employees wish to remain at least partially remote for the duration of their career. In many ways, remote work is no longer a tool to attract candidates; it’s table stakes.

2. Larger Talent Pools

The first major benefit of engaging remote workers is that it makes it easier to find talent. Your talent pool is expanded to a national, hemispherical or even global level, depending on what it is you’re looking for.

With this expanded talent pool comes the ability to find candidates who are a better fit for your role versus competing for the best of what’s locally available. It also helps employers “shop around” with respect to price point vs. ability, considering how variable the cost of living (and thus salary expectations) can be from place to place. For example, we’ve found that there’s a sweet spot in placing Latin American developers with US companies – the price is right and there’s a lot of experienced talent there, all in an overlapping timezone.

3. Cost Savings

The second major benefit is cost savings. We’ve already discussed the benefit of sourcing from different markets with a lower cost of living, but there are additional points to consider. Not having to pay for office space and related expenses all add up to significant savings for an organization. Even when paying freelancers a higher hourly rate to make up for costs they have to cover themselves – their workspace, benefits, long-term savings, and so forth – it regularly nets out to lower costs for the client. 

As of June 2022, 6 of 10 employers report cost savings as a major benefit to remote and hybrid models. It’s estimated that companies save an average of $10,000 per employee per year in real estate and related costs with a fully remote policy. While the amount saved will depend on a company’s overall head count, revenue, and the working model they adopt, the data is clear. Corporations like IBM, McKesson, and McKinsey report millions in annual savings simply by avoiding costly relocations and leasing office space. 

According to research conducted in 2022, employers that allow remote work also see an average increase in profit of $2,000 per remote worker. While there are many factors that feed into this, some of the major reasons include decreased absenteeism, increased productivity, and better employee retention.

4. Increased flexibility

A less-often discussed benefit for employers is flexibility, especially with respect to short-term projects and consulting arrangements. It’s easy to hire short-term contractors through a staff augmentation company that brings staff on for a well-defined project until its completion, and then release or reduce the hours of your contractors without having to worry about finding another place or project for them in your organization. The commitment of adding staff becomes much less daunting.

5. Reduced greenhouse gas emissions

With the pandemic forcing a rapid transition to remote work, we had a rare opportunity to estimate the impact of commuting on global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The research overwhelmingly indicated that remote work significantly reduced GHG emissions, even taking into account an increase in residential emissions. Transportation generates approximately 14% of global GHG emissions; in 2020 alone, remote working reduced commuting emissions by 97%. 

Graph comparing 2019 vs 2020 (Covid-19 pandemic) CO2 emissions between main countries and global

Even with companies now moving local staff back to hybrid and in-office models, a large number of companies – particularly in the technology sector – have expressed their intention to maintain a remote-first culture. According to the United Nations, this major behavioral shift has the potential to transform societies and reduce emissions, slowing global warming by a significant margin. If, as a collective society, we are to halt global warming and avoid the most severe effects of climate change, transitioning to renewable energy, sustainable transport, and building efficiency won’t be enough. Shifting human behavior is critical. 

It’s my belief that, as an employer in a sector that doesn’t require on-site employers, we have a responsibility to consider the broader implications of the working models we choose for our companies. Allowing employees to work from home might seem like a small decision that affects only our company. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Our decision to allow remote work has monumental positive benefits for our collective global society. 

6. Improved productivity

Particularly in the software, IT, and finance industries, productivity seems to increase. A 30,000-person study during the pandemic showed that there was a 5% increase in productivity when employees worked from home. What’s more, employees were 22% happier. While happiness doesn’t immediately seem like it corresponds to increased productivity, there’s a clear link. Employees that are happier are more likely to stay in jobs longer, decreasing the cost of hiring and training new staff.

Chart of employees' productivity working remotely during the pandemic

Remote Work Statistics

Drawing from a comprehensive analysis of the available research on remote work (last updated April 2022), we can see some interesting statistics:

  • Remote work has grown 159% since 2009
  • Employers that allow remote work see an average increase in profit of $2,000 per remote worker
  • Employees can potentially save around $7,000 per year under similar arrangements, reducing costs otherwise spent on parking, food, and childcare
  • 99% of people would choose to work remotely for the rest of their lives, even if it was just part-time
  • 69% of millennials would give up certain work benefits for a more flexible workspace and have a better work-life balance
  • More than a third of workers would take a pay cut of up to 5% in exchange for the option to work remotely at least some of the time; a quarter would take a 10% pay cut; 20% would take an even greater cut
  • Telecommuting reduces greenhouse gas emissions by an amount of 600,000 cars
Trends in remote work growth over 5, 10 and 12 years

Companies Hiring Fully Remote Workers

Many companies, regardless of size, are now embracing a remote-first methodology, especially in the tech sector:

The Importance of Productivity and Trust in Remote Work

If your organization has the capacity for remote work, but you’re still not convinced, chances are that it’s because you’re concerned that the lack of direct supervision will cause your workers to slack off while on the clock.

The truth is employees who feel trusted and empowered to work in a space that’s comfortable for them will have improved morale, which equates to more productivity regardless of setting. A happy worker is a hard worker.

Also, if they’re able to work with fewer interruptions, that helps contribute toward a flow state to increase productivity further. This is especially important for developers who have to juggle a large amount of information and considerations in their working memory while tackling the interconnected problems native to programming.

The numbers back this up, remote work leads to:

  • Increased productivity: generally measured as somewhere between 15% and 45%
  • Reduced absenteeism: 78% of employees who call in sick do so not because they’re sick, but due to family, personal issues, appointments, and stress. The flexibility of remote work can make many of these more manageable without having to take full days of unscheduled time off.
  • Improved employee retention: equates to more overall productivity, given the effort (and cost) required to source and train replacement staff
Survey results of remote work benefits from 1,060 professionals over 18

If you’re still having trouble trusting your workers to be productive, I’d recommend giving things a try in a limited capacity to see how they go – you may be surprised. To track how things are going, measure outputs of work, not time worked – this is ultimately what you’re paying your employees for. Are they doing their job, are they doing it well, and delivering on time? 

Also, touch base to see what employees think of the arrangement and if they have workflow suggestions on how to make things run more smoothly in a remote setting. If after all that your employees still require constant supervision to remain productive, there may be larger issues at play in your organization than work setting.

Useful Tips to Embrace Remote Work in Your Company

If you’re unsure how to implement an effective remote model, a study published in Nature Human Behavior has some useful tips. However, check out our handy list below for some ideas:

  • Stimulate cross-department collaboration by hosting small meetings across teams throughout the week.
  • Hold regular “all hands” meetings, getting the entire company up to speed on higher-level organizational projects.
  • Build culture using Slack’s donut feature.
  • Encourage “natural connectors” in your organization to build bridges and strengthen ties.

Where to Source Remote Talent

The biggest challenge of adapting to a remote workforce sourcing is that it can be more difficult to do than traditional local hiring. The number of candidates and subsequent inquiries can be overwhelming when drawing from a national or global talent pool. 

Many remote-focused talent marketplaces rely solely on algorithms and gameable review systems to provide assurances that any given profile is a safe choice. Without a dedicated HR department and a significant amount of effort, the hiring process can become very fraught very quickly for those without experience in the remote talent marketplace.

An unfortunate reality is that the distance and lack of in-person contact means that it can be easier for candidates to misrepresent themselves to employers – who they are, where they’re located, and what their experience is. Although (much like with in-person work) bad apples are rare, some additional considerations must be made, and the vetting process becomes crucial.

Scalable Path’s Approach

With over 12 years of experience doing exactly that, we know that entirely automated vetting processes can be gamed, and that if you take the time to speak personally with a candidate, you’re much more likely to be able to tell if they are being truthful. We’ve also honed our vetting process both with respect to identity and technical ability, to ensure that only qualified candidates make it through our process. 

The fact that we’ve built up a community of over 25,000 software developers – many with proven track records on past projects through our platform – makes the sourcing process easier and quicker for us when compared to more traditional recruiting models. We pride ourselves on providing the best experience to employers seeking remote talent.

That’s why we think our service is invaluable – finding the best candidates is essential to the growth and success of every business. Your team forms the foundation of your company, so build it using the strongest individuals. Investing in the wrong candidates can set a business back in the marketplace and create internal strife – it’s better to take the safer path.

To Conclude: Is Remote Work Right for your Company?

By this point, the benefits of remote work should be clear. There’s an overall cost savings to an organization, paired with a boost in productivity – two things that give a company an edge over its competitors. In an evolving landscape, it’s also clear that being remote-first or at least offering remote working arrangements is necessary for an organization to hire software developers and remain resilient through challenging times. 

We also believe that as the remote marketplace grows, engaging experts in the field of talent acquisition is essential for the success and security of one’s organization. Historically speaking, companies that have been at the forefront of a changing industry have been those with longevity in the marketplace. That’s why adopting a remote workforce today is a good idea for your business now and tomorrow.

Originally published on Jul 14, 2021Last updated on Oct 13, 2023

Key Takeaways

How do you embrace remote work?

To embrace remote work stimulate cross-department collaboration by hosting small meetings across teams throughout the week, hold regular “all hands” meetings, build culture using Slack’s donut feature, and encourage “natural connectors” in your organization to build bridges and strengthen ties.

How do you create a positive remote work environment?

To have a positive remote work environment, it's essential to stimulate cross-department collaboration by hosting small meetings across trams throughout the week. This can support creativity and encourage new ideas. Also, encourage "natural connectors" in your organization to build bridges and strengthen ties.

Why remote work is better than an office?

The flexibility it offers employers to choose how to balance their work and life schedules makes handling the stress of our daily lives more manageable. It also reduces commuting traffic and the amount of greenhouse gas emissions we produce.