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The TLDR of “The Great Resignation” is that employees are demanding greater flexibility when it comes to their work requirements, and greater ability to bring a balance of health and other priorities to their lives. In response, employers have been quick to reconfigure roles to appear accommodating to flexibility, and specifically to remote location. However, not all remote roles are created equal and when we dig into these companies and teams, we uncover inconsistencies about what remote truly means. For example, the job posting might be tagged as remote, but the HR team specifies it requires being in the office three times per week or being within 20 miles of the office.
In order to provide support for those searching for flexible or remote positions, we’ve pulled together the critical elements that a candidate should look for when finding a position that doesn’t include remote as just a buzzword, but is structured to truly support a distributed workforce.
Here are some of the key elements of what to look for in a committed remote position or company.
Companies that offer remote positions should have a clear and publicly available remote work policy. A well-defined policy is the first indicator of a company’s commitment to flexibility. As we highlight in our Placeless Playbook, “A written remote work policy is a vital piece of your remote work strategy. It needs to align with the company’s strategic remote work vision while also setting the foundation for compliance with relevant laws and regulations.”
When companies are truly committed to improving diversity initiatives, they seek out talent via channels that focus on underrepresented demographic groups. Similarly, if a company is only recruiting via conventional channels that don’t have a remote focus, it’s the first sign they haven’t done their due diligence in seeking remote talent.
Some remote-first job boards include:
Also, look for consistency within the job postings when it comes to remote and flexible requirements. The job description and everyone promoting the position, from HR to management, should be aligned on the remote and flexible references. Inconsistencies are a red flag.
If you, as a job seeker, have specific preferences or requirements when it comes to the flexibility you are looking for in a role, be sure that you capture this in writing. Just as you would request your compensation package to be outlined in your employment contract, you can also request the same for your flexibility parameters. This helps you and your employer align on fundamental expectations, be it how many days a week or times per year you are expected to report to a physical office location.
One of the biggest challenges over the past two years with remote teams has been leadership’s lag in adapting to remote setups. Many companies offer leadership skills training, but the training lacks a remote-first mindset or the perspective of flexible work setups.
In our 2020 Remote Work Training Report, we learned that when virtual managers received more remote-specific training, the company was more successful. That was true across every metric measured, including “Managing performance across distance,” “Providing growth opportunities for all workers,” and, critically, “Maintaining productivity across distance.”
Additionally, for hybrid team leaders, training can support:
Working remotely requires nuanced skills to optimize productivity, feel engaged, and avoid isolation and burnout. Companies can prove their commitment to making remote work successful and sustainable by committing to support the professionals within their teams.
While many companies onboard employees or offer professional development opportunities, it’s rare that either of these things include training on remote work practices. Remote work training is distinct in that it:
Job seekers can specifically ask about remote training, skill development, and preparedness during an interview.
Important note: Executives should not be excluded from learning or supporting the development of remote work skills and practices.
If centralized office workers are the only ones being offered ergonomic setup evaluations or company laptops, that’s a red flag as to where priorities lie. There are a variety of companies who help support remote office setups, like Firstbase or GroWrk. Alternatively, the organization can offer stipends of equivalent value so the employee can select the home office or coworking setup that is the most effective for them.
In-office team lunches, free snacks, and onsite gym perks were created to support office workers, and they do serve a purpose for co-located teams. Unfortunately, they are inherently exclusionary to virtual employees. It can be challenging to rethink every benefit from a remote-first point of view. However, companies committed to their remote employees have a great head start with some ideas including:
Since companies can say many things on social media without accountability, posts about their commitment to remote work is not necessarily a guarantee. However, you can glean insights into their approach to flexibility based upon the content of the company posts and the posts of its executives.
You don’t have to start from scratch. With the rise of remote work, there’s been a rise of remote company evaluations. These can helpful resources for finding companies that have experienced remote-first success. A couple ideas for places to start:
Keep in mind that not every successful remote-first company will be on one of these lists.
The marketplace of remote and flexible roles is still evolving, and it’s likely that not every role will be able to meet every requirement on this list. However, we hope remote job seekers can use this checklist to vet job postings or phrase the right questions during an interview. It’s also our goal that companies can take these recommendations as they work toward delivering upon their commitments to remote talent.
Jacqueline Zeller, CMO at Workplaceless
Motivated by her own career path working on flexible, hybrid, and fully remote teams since 2011, Zeller advocates for effective remote work that creates opportunities. She advances the Workplaceless mission by creating content and fostering connections that help professionals and companies make remote work productive, healthy, and sustainable.
Follow her on LinkedIn.