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Virtual Workforce Trends: Taking Work out of Office

Remote Worker

In any given coffee shop on any given day, it is easy to spot the virtual workforce with their laptops open and headphones on to help minimize distractions. Telecommuters. Remote or virtual workers. Work-from-home employees. Digital nomads. All of these terms refer to talent who accomplish some—or all—of their work at a location that is not a company office, such as a home or at a café with a WiFi connection.

Virtual work isn’t new, but the number of people working out of the office has increased dramatically in recent years. Not surprisingly, increased remote work coincides with the rise of smartphones and other mobile tech that allow people to take the office with them wherever they go. Additionally, collaboration and messaging tools—think Trello and Slack—have become so sophisticated, virtual work can happen in real time.

Research by Global Workplace Analytics and FlexJobs found the number of US employees working remotely increased 115 percent between 2005 and 2015, going from 1.8 million in 2005 to 3.9 million in 2015.1 According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 22 percent of the US workforce did part or all of their work at home in 2016, up from 19 percent in 2003. Among workers with advanced degrees aged 25 and older, full or partial remote work reached 43 percent in 2016.2

Now that it’s no longer an option for a lucky few, the pros and cons of full- or part-time remote work are under scrutiny.

On one side are those who contend it has a positive impact on productivity, employee engagement, and the bottom line. According to a 2017 Gallup survey, employees who spent some time working virtually were slightly more engaged than those who worked remote or in-office 100 percent of the time. Partial remote workers were also more likely to feel their job offered learning and growth opportunities.

On the flip side are those who contend remote work negatively impacts collaboration. In the past few years, several high-profile companies began scaling back their virtual workforce. In 2017, IBM rescinded the remote option for thousands of employees, and before that, Bank of America and Yahoo called their workers back to the office.  

But the virtual work option isn’t going away anytime soon, with experts predicting an expansion of the remote workforce over the next few years. Companies should consider carefully whether and how they'll leverage virtual employees, and then develop virtual work policies unique to their organization. Some businesses struggling to draw highly skilled talent may attract better candidates with a remote option. Others may improve employee satisfaction with a partial work-from-home option.

Whether you’re considering adding telecommuters to your staff for the first time, or refining your existing remote work offerings, these are some of the top virtual workforce trends to understand:

Remote Work Is Growing Across Industries

According to a 2017 study by IT solutions company Softchoice, 74 percent of 1,000 office workers surveyed said they would leave their job for another that offered the option of more remote work. According to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace—in-depth polling into what matters to employees—“flexible scheduling and work-from-home opportunities play a major role in an employee's decision to take or leave a job.” To draw top candidates in a tight talent market, employers are taking note.

Tech companies embrace the remote work model, and other industries are finding that telecommuting and flexible work options improve candidate attraction and employee engagement. According to Gallup’s research, the finance, insurance, and real estate industries significantly increased their virtual workforce from 39 percent to 47 percent between 2012 and 2016. During the same time period, the computer, IT, manufacturing, science, engineering, and retail sectors also increased their remote workforce.

Virtual Tech Hubs and Incubators

In virtual hubs and incubators, employees work from where they are with teams across the globe. These hubs, which can exist exclusively online or within shared workspaces, are proliferating around the country. No longer must tech companies establish a footprint in Silicon Valley to draw top talent. The talent market is tight across industries, but it’s fiercely competitive within the tech sector. For many startups, a brick-and-mortar office in a city with a deep tech talent pool isn’t in the budget. With a virtual hub, they can access exceptional candidates anywhere in the world, and a team of developers can work seamlessly within web-based hosting services, such as GitHub and Bitbucket. Similarly, tech giants can cast a larger net for developers and software engineers who aren’t willing to relocate. Employers large and small also save money on salaries when their remote workers live outside of expensive tech hubs, such as San Jose and New York City.

Flexible Remote Policies

The most effective telecommuting policies aren’t all or nothing. Gallup’s research found that fully remote and fully in-office workers report the same low level of engagement, with only 30 percent of these employees actively engaged at work. A mix of time spent collaborating with colleagues in the office and working remotely seems to make the most positive impact on hiring. All employees with some remote work flexibility were more engaged than those without the option. But those who worked remotely three to four days a week had the highest engagement levels—from 60 to 80 percent engagement.

Ideally, a company’s remote work policy includes wiggle room to allow for individual preferences. Some employees are likely to feel isolated or out of the loop when they work from home, while others will be adept at navigating collaboration tools so they feel connected and in the mix.

Working remotely is fast shifting from a nice-to-have perk to a non-negotiable option for employees deciding where they’d like to work next. Even if your company isn’t prepared to offer a remote option, it’s important to consider how it might fit with your organization in the near future.

Need help recruiting your virtual workforce? Contact us.



1 Vasel, Kathryn. “Working From Home is Really Having a Moment.” CNN. Web. 21 June 2017.
2 "On Days They Worked, 22 Percent of Employed Did Some or All of Their Work at Home in 2016." TED: The Economics Daily. Bureau of Labor Statistics. United States Department of Labor.


Is Total Talent Acquisition Right for Your Company?


Hiring is changing at a dizzying pace and gathering the necessary pieces of the recruiting puzzle is a challenge. Would a blend of contingent and permanent employees offer the best ROI for your business? Which job boards and social networks most effectively attract talent in your industry? How do you leverage emerging technologies, such as recruiting chatbots and analytics, for improved hiring? Depending on your organization, total talent acquisition can put the pieces of the talent puzzle together.

What Is Total Talent Acquisition?

Total talent acquisition is a hiring and employee management approach that aligns workforce and business strategies to improve outcomes now and in the future. Total talent acquisition zooms out for a big picture view of an organization’s hiring needs and processes, and then zooms in to address geographic talent shortages, increases in product demand that are likely temporary, or employer branding needs.

How Does Total Talent Acquisition Work?

The traditional approach to talent management remains highly siloed, with permanent hiring, contingent hiring, sourcing, employer branding, and analytics often managed separately. Total talent acquisition takes a holistic approach where the need for contingent workers is considered in tandem with permanent workforce needs and industry projections. It also factors in the rising use of robots and artificial intelligence in industries, with an understanding that these technologies are shifting the roles critical to achieving business goals.

With this approach, cycles of hiring and layoffs are replaced by the expansion and reduction of contingent worker contracts. Folding in contingent workers is helpful to cope with market fluctuations, but also for specific expertise that isn’t permanently required. For instance, a logistics company may bring on temporary data specialists to pinpoint emerging markets only when the business is heading into an expansion phase.

The Benefits of Total Talent Acquisition

The workforce is changing, with the number of people filling contingent roles rising fast. By 2020, the number of U.S. workers freelancing part time or full time is expected to top 50 percent. The traditional approach no longer aligns with this fast-evolving hiring landscape, leaving gaps and inefficiencies that total talent tactics can correct. Some of the benefits of total talent acquisition include:

  • Lower hiring and recruitment costs through centralized management of sourcing, interviewing, applicant tracking systems, candidate management, onboarding, and employee engagement and retention.
  • Optimizing the balance between permanent and contingent hires in your workforce.
  • Increased internal hiring by shifting proven contingent hires to open permanent roles.
  • Improved productivity because this strategy takes a more qualitative approach to contingent hires.
  • Placing accountability on service providers for permanent and contingent roles, recruiting technology, employer branding, as well as for regulatory compliance issues.
  • Providing flexibility for shifting forces within your industry and the broader economy.

In the new business landscape, it isn’t just workers who must be agile and adaptive to stay competitive. Companies must also adapt to the new and still evolving hiring environment so their workforce composition spurs business in boom times and helps them weather downturns.

The shift to a total talent acquisition model is challenging but in no way insurmountable. It requires understanding and buy-in from decision makers from the CEO to human resources leaders to procurement managers. Step one? Getting the topic on the conference table.

Need assistance with your hiring? Contact us.


The Best Non-Monetary Perks and Benefits for Candidates


To entice candidates to say yes to the job, many companies focus on compensation—the salary, the bonus structure, stock options, and retirement [401(k) Plan or RRSP, for example]—and big benefits such as health insurance and paid vacation. These are important and are weighted heavily by prospective employees. But all other things being equal, non-monetary perks and benefits can make the difference when candidates are on the fence about taking a job at your company.

What are Non-Monetary Perks?

Non-monetary perks are the nice-to-have benefits companies offer, though ‘non-monetary’ is a bit of a misnomer. Often these perks cost companies money, and they save workers time and money. Tech companies draw a lot of attention for their flashy perks, such as on-site chefs cooking free meals for employees, or concierge service to help employees manage personal errands. But non-monetary perks need not be expensive—or envy-inducing—to be valuable to employees and companies. A 2015 Employment Confidence Survey by Glassdoor found that 79 percent of workers prefer increases in perks and benefits to a salary increase, and many of their preferences focused on work/life balance rather than money.

Here are some non-monetary perks to consider adding to your benefits package:

Flexible Schedules and Working Arrangements

The days where all workers were expected to be in-office five days a week are fast disappearing in many industries. Online collaboration tools, such as Slack, and video conferencing apps keep employees up to speed at home, the coffee shop, or in shared workspaces. This approach alleviates employee stress because workers don’t have to cope with a daily commute, or worry how they will manage when a child is home sick from school.

Clear parameters and trust are critical in these arrangements. For example, clarify if the work-from-home option is available only two days per week and set your expectations for timely email responses. Then convey your trust that the employee will be available and get the job done.

Health and Wellness Programs

Busy workers often let fitness, health, and stress-reduction activities slip through the cracks when they have to squeeze them in at end of day or on the weekends. Many companies now offer wellness programs at the office such as yoga and exercise classes, meditation workshops, chair massages, and nutrition counseling. This helps workers de-stress and can lower future healthcare costs for the company.

Career Development

Employees are keenly aware that staying competitive in today’s changing economy means learning new things and adding to their skills. But it’s difficult for them to find time for that when they are busy working long hours. Offer training and workshops in the office that help build your employees’ soft and hard skills. Send them to conferences to keep up to date on the industry, and give them opportunities to network with peers. Offer tuition reimbursement and time for leadership programs and continuing education. This shows employees you are invested in their career growth, which is particularly important to younger workers.

Concierge Services

Let your employees truly refresh over the weekend by taking tedious and time-consuming personal errands off their plate during the week. It doesn’t cost much to hire a concierge company to manage laundry pick-ups, oil changes, and car washes for your employees. Workers usually pick up the cost of the price of the service itself, but the scheduling is managed for them and the service happens while they are working.

Affordable Perks, Big Dividends

The following are a few perks that improve employee satisfaction at little to no cost:

  • Bring Your Dog to Work Days
  • Celebrating the birthdays of employees and their spouses
  • Casual dress policy
  • Providing healthy snacks
  • Break room games and activities

How Perks Benefit Companies

These added perks—even simply ensuring workers have fresh, high-quality coffee available through the day—are not insignificant. They make employees feel valued for their contributions to the workplace, and understood as individuals with interests and concerns beyond the office walls, which improves employee engagement and retention rates. Finally, these non-monetary benefits improve your company’s appeal to candidates by showing you are attentive to office culture and care about having happy employees.

Need hiring assistance? Contact us.





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Hudson RPO

Hudson RPO (recruitment process outsourcing) manages the people, process and technology associated with recruitment on a full service (outsourced), hybrid (co-sourced) or project basis. A global force in talent acquisition solutions, Hudson RPO designs, implements and manages custom RPO programs for mid- to large-cap, multi-national companies.