The Remote Workforce – Is Your Company Staying Ahead of the Curve?

Rachel Fletcher

4 min read

Mar 12, 2020

The Remote Workforce – Is Your Company Staying Ahead of the Curve?

When we look back at the typical office environment of 10 or 20 years ago, it’s not hard to envision the tall, beige cubicle walls, right? Today most offices offer some sort of open-office option to one degree or another. So what’s the next big trend for office life? In short, it’s all about the remote culture. 

The remote employee, or untethered workforce, is an idea that has been around since with the emergence of the millennial workforce, but it’s only beginning to really take off with more and more companies as the unemployment rate continues to decline and more companies try to remain competitive. In fact, it’s getting to the point where potential and current employees are expecting some sort of flexible arrangement as a part of their job. All that to say, creating an environment that is remote-friendly is going to be more for employers to remain competitive and attract top talent.

Just because something is popular, there is no reason to jump on the bandwagon!  Why should you and your organization consider creating a remote-friendly workplace?  

Work/life flexibility for your employees

A recent Gallup poll found that the majority of potential employees see the work/life balance as a very important factor in their decision when considering a new job. The flip side of that is roughly 51% of employees would consider changing jobs so that they could have more flexibility in their day-to-day schedules. Allowing a remote-friendly workplace means that you’ll attract more talent and retain the great employees you already have. 

Increase productivity and employee engagement

Along with more flexibility comes an increase in the enjoyment of one’s job. And it’s no secret that happy employees are more productive employees. It makes sense, right? When you enjoy your job, you’re much more likely to put greater effort into your work. Plus, you’ll find that all the time that is normally spent commuting can now be used in much more efficient ways. And we’re all about efficiency at BNR. 

Reduce your physical footprint

As you move more and more towards a truly untethered workforce, you’ll find that you might just end up needing much less physical office space than before. So instead of having desk space for each and every employee, you can move towards a “hot desk” approach with shared workstations that employees can use when they are in the office.  This in turn will reduce your footprint and save money on office space!

How BNR has embraced the remote culture

We’re proud to say that BNR is one of the pioneers of the untethered workforce. In fact, we have employees in 19 different states and about 40% of our employees are full-time remote! So how do we approach it? 

We’ve fully embraced the remote culture

Working with an untethered workforce requires process and commitment above all else. It’s certainly an endeavor worth doing for employee engagement and only suffers when insufficient processes are in place. One of the most important things we’ve done at the Ranch is ensure that when it comes to our remote employees, we are all in. In practice, that means that we fully support our employees and their decision to work remotely. We provide them with the necessary tools and encourage them to come up with creative ways of managing their time and projects. A major benefit is that we’re not constrained by geography when it comes to hiring—so we get the best talent that the nation has to offer. 

We train our managers on how to best work with remote employees

Somewhat counterintuitively, in order to fully embrace the remote culture, you have to have buy-in from the in-office employees. That’s why we spend time training both our leadership and managers on how to best interact and support remote employees. This training includes finding and using the right tools, the best way to communicate with a distributed workforce, and how to best manage expectations from both sides.

We have the right tools

One of the most important aspects of working within a remote culture is finding the right tools and using them in the right way. At the Ranch, we have a number of tools that we utilize to help both our on-location and remote employees feel connected and in touch. The majority of our communication comes through our messaging tool Slack. The almost instantaneous nature means that no matter where our employees are located, they are never more than a message away. We are also big believers in using video conferencing for all of our meetings. That fact that we can always see the person we’re having a conversation with and encourage all employees to turn on their video during conference calls, makes everyone feel that much closer. 

 And, it’s working

One of the biggest obstacles that tech companies face is finding and keeping the best talent. At Big Nerd Ranch, we have one of the highest retention rates among technology companies and an extremely low turnover rate. In fact, we were recently ranked 12th in the small business category of the 2020 AJC’s Best Places to Work and we were also awarded the 2020 overall award for best work/life flexibility. These awards were a true testament to our culture and validate that we not only fully embrace the remote culture, but also do so well in supporting our untethered workforce. As the trend moves towards even more remote work, it’s certainly important to put the policies and training in place now so you’re ready for what the future brings.

Are you curious to learn more about our process or the great solutions we provide our clients? Get in touch

Angie Terrell

Reviewer Big Nerd Ranch

Angie joined BNR in 2014 as a senior UX/UI designer. Just over a year later she became director of design and instruction leading a team of user experience and interface designers. All told, Angie has over 15 years of experience designing a wide array of user experiences

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