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Flexible workplace options such as teleworking can greatly expand HR's opportunities for hiring the most qualified candidates for a job, wherever these candidates reside. As President Barack Obama recently put it when announcing
for federal employees, “Work is what you do, not where you are.”
The New Work Paradigm
Recent studies have shown that two-thirds of American families have two working parents, making it more difficult for both parents to find local jobs that reflect their qualifications. These candidates will be left to accept positions that do not use their talents fully if the option to work remotely isn't available to them.
Nevertheless, many employers are wary of introducing telecommuting options to their workforce because of concerns about productivity when employees work from home. Yet some studies show that employees can be more productive when working remotely because they avoid the many distractions of an office environment, not to mention the wasted time and frustration caused by having to commute to the office during rush hour. This productivity win for the business boosts career satisfaction for the star performers in the company.
Still, telecommuting doesn’t work for everyone. Certain employees work best in the well-structured environment of the office. For this reason, when hiring employees who will work remotely, it's important to find candidates capable of creating their own structure.
Evaluate Management Practices
Management practices might need to change when a supervisor cannot see his or her employees working. It becomes much more important that structured goals and objectives be agreed on for each position. This can be difficult for managers who are accustomed to gauging an employee’s work ethic by the amount of time they spend in front of the keyboard.
Communication is critical in the success of any remote relationship. When HR professionals find a star performer in another city or state, they should not let them flounder because there has not been enough communication through e-mail, phone calls, conference calls, web meetings or occasional face-to-face time.
In many cases, the flexibility of working at home and not being physically in an office setting with the rest of senior management can push employees to prove themselves, thus increasing productivity. By not having higher level management checking in with them face to face, some remote workers will strive continuously to achieve a high level of acceptance.
Expand the Recruiting Net
Once employers have the mechanics managed and planned technology and communication in place, they are then ready to cast the recruiting net wider. Some might find that a great past employee has relocated with a spouse and now is interested and available. In addition, there are pockets of unemployment larger than others. These markets can be a great place to look for talent.
Employers should consider searching for talented individuals where they are most likely to be located. For example, accomplished writers might be found near universities. Those with call center experience are often in the Midwest where large organizations have trained thousands of employees to handle their phone work.
Lois Melbourne is co-founder and CEO of
Aquire, a workplace planning and analytics solutions company.
Mobile Workforce Management,
HR Magazine, March 2011
Workplace Flexibility valued by Low-Wage Workers,
SHRM Online Benefits Discipline, February 2011
Secrets to a Robust Telework Program: The 'STIR' Model,
SHRM Online Benefits Discipline, January 2010
Done Right, Telework Ups Productivity, Job Satisfaction,
SHRM Online Technology Discipline, November 2009
SHRM Online Workplace Flexibility Resource Page
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