If you’ve spent any time online in the last ten years, you’ve probably heard about the digital nomad. A term coined in the late 2000s, the digital nomad represents a new worker that’s not chained to a desk or a specific office -- they work remotely. Thanks to the development of cheap wifi, dependable laptops, and a millennial lifestyle that values experience and flexibility over stability. Digital nomads have become a staple of the workforce.
So how does this affect small business? While many of these digital nomads are freelancers and can function in a similar way for your business, others are retaining benefits and full-time employment with companies. Are remote workers a viable tool for a small business, or should you stay away?
The Benefits of a Growing Mobile Workforce
Spoiler alert: digital nomads and remote workers are here to stay. Every year the number of remote workers increase as the workforce ages into this lifestyle. A recent study by the Independence Research Brief said that 4.8 million Americans reported that they were digital nomads, with over 27% of total workers saying that they would strongly consider becoming digital nomads within the next three years.
Small businesses might be scared initially by the growth of this sector after all with growing mobility comes bigger competition. Less and less will companies find themselves competing only locally or regionally, instead having to compete nationally for business will be the norm. The good news is that this also opens up a huge pool of potential workers that would previously have been unavailable. Not only that, not having to house them, in an office means that you often save money on overhead.
Let’s say you open a business and need web design, you can hire someone from Seattle for that, an accountant from Minneapolis, a copywriter from Idaho -- it frees you from the constraints of the pool of applicants in your immediate area. That means that you can find the perfect fit for that job, rather than being stuck with the best of a bad bunch.
What Hiring Remotely Means for Your Small Business
If you have a service or construction-related small business, you may not see much change in your hiring policies, but if you rely on creatives looking to remote workers can give great results. Most times you’ll get more bang for your buck. So what does this mean in practice? With little to no recourse, often it can be scary to hire someone remotely. How can you maximize the benefits while minimizing the risk to your company?
Luckily, since remote employees have hit the mainstream, many websites have popped up to connect small businesses with potential workers. Sites like remote.co have been created specifically for employers and employees to connect on remote jobs. Not only that, traditional job sites like LinkedIn have made it easy to tag remote jobs on postings, guaranteeing that your post will be seen by as many eyes as possible.
How to Hire and Onboard Remotely -- Plan!
Making sure that you’re vetting your potential employees is super important. Linkedin might give you a good idea of a job history of someone, but it’s still important to check references, look at any relevant portfolios, and do your due diligence by checking with references. Make sure you take your time and find the right fit. While it might feel like the internet has sped everything up, taking your time to find the exact right fit is important -- especially if this is for a permanent position. Multiple interviews may be necessary.
Once you have a candidate, your onboarding and orientation to your company need to be on point. Consistent planning and execution of training for a remote employee are so important, as this will be the time to get the greatest imprint on their work. Trust is obviously required when hiring remote workers, but you can minimize your risk by creating a consistent and comprehensive onboard procedure so that every employee knows exactly what’s expected -- whether they work in-house or remotely.
Nowhere is planning more important than with your accountant. Good accounting will not only allow you to see how many remote employees your business can afford and what parts of the business you can afford to grow but with a payroll service, they can also make sure that these employees are paid on time, and that all relevant tax information is recorded and ready at the end of the year. Remote workers are an exciting new development, and when used correctly can be a big boon to your small business. Talk with your accounting firm and start that conversation today!