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Remote-work options can boost recruitment

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By Kathy Canavan

Your commute may get shorter in 2015 – much, much shorter.

More than 36 percent of chief financial officers surveyed said the number of work-from-home and remote-work opportunities in their companies has increased in the last three years.

According to an Accountemps survey of 2,100 CFOs, remote-work opportunities are on the rise at 68 percent of companies with more than 1,000 employees and at 34 percent of companies with fewer than 50 employees.

“From a company standpoint, it can save them some money because it requires them to own less office space, said Jeanie Sharp, the regional vice-president for Accountemps who oversees the Wilmington office. “It also provides them access to a larger pool of those who are looking for work. It gives them access to talent they might not have seen if they were only looking locally.”

More than one-third of the CFOs that Accountemps polled said remote-work arrangements result in higher retention and higher morale. Twenty-eight percent said working at home increases productivity by doing away with long commutes.

As competition for employees heats up, especially in the accounting and finance areas, telecommuting is one tool that businesses can use for retention and recruiting, Sharp said.

“Clearly, as the unemployment rate is coming down, talented individuals out there become harder and harder to find. This is just another benefit they can offer,”  Sharp said.  “It helps you retain individuals. It’s a perk for them, so it might help keep them on board with their current employer.”

The survey showed larger companies are more likely than smaller ones to offer telecommuting. “Within a bigger company usually you have more technology infrastructure, so they’re typically able to offer the work-at-home option,” Sharp said.

As technology becomes more mobile, jobs may too.

Sharp said it’s important for employers with work-at-home employees to keep those employees in the office loop. “There are challenges for folks who are working remotely,” she said. “I think some individuals might struggle with a diminished sense of being part of the corporate culture. I think it’s very important for the employer to help these individuals feel included with Skyping, training sessions, and accessibility to others who are not working from home.”

Ironically,  Sharp said Accountemps, the specialized temp agency for accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals that hosted the survey, has most of its employees work in-house because they need to be available to work with clients.

Accountemps offered tips for employers contemplating a remote workforce:

  • Establish clear guidelines — Determine which jobs are eligible for telecommuting and set up requirements – a positive performance record, proven ability to work with minimal supervision, being accessible at certain times or keeping the same hours as in-office colleagues.
  • “Out of sight” can’t be “out of mind” — Remote employees may use email for conveying information, but they should also pick up the phone on a regular basis or use video conferencing.
  • Talk it up – Promote your company’s remote-work options among present employees and at job interviews to bolster your retention and recruitment efforts.
  • Security – Remote workers should be well trained in virus protection, keeping software updated and safeguarding confidential information.

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