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Remote Work is Here to Stay – How to Develop a Strategy for Long-Term Success

May 12, 2021

By Jason Rowe, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

In ASE’s latest COVID-19 Business Impact Survey, over 52% of Michigan employers report that some staff will work remotely on a regular full-time basis after the pandemic, if their job allows it. Nationally, more than 80% of employers describe that their organizations’ shift to remote work during the pandemic has been successful, and nearly 40% have reported an increase in productivity, according to a recent Pearl Meyer survey.

“Work is no longer a place. With remote working requests continuing to emerge and surprise leaders, companies are reevaluating how to create cohesive, consistent, and fair geographic pay policies as employees push to straddle multiple geographies,” said Scott Cawood, CEO of WorldatWork. “What used to only be an occasional issue is now a frequent request and savvy employers will need to respond with fair, transparent, and attractive geographic pay policies for distributed workforces if they wish to remain competitive.”

What does this mean for HR professionals? Roles need to be evaluated to determine whether a fully-remote position is best for your organization — or just for the individual employee. Tauseef Rahman, a partner at HR consultancy Mercer in San Francisco, suggests answering these questions for each job to help determine whether you have a national or regional/local labor market:

  • Going forward, do I need this job to be performed in a specific location or can the employee perform the job virtually from any location?
  • If the job becomes virtual, will there be times when they are required to be in a particular location or office? How often would this occur and who should bear the cost? Will I require that employee to report to a particular office regularly (e.g., once a week)?
  • If the current employee were to leave, would I want to hire someone closer to where I have an office or location?
  • For this job, would I be better off conducting a nationwide search to improve my chances of finding the employee I need from a more diversified candidate pool?

Another item that HR professionals will need to determine is how remote workers should be paid – based on national averages or local labor markets?  A recent WorldatWork survey reported that 70% of companies use geographic differentials to adjust salaries based on the individual’s location. While both strategies have their benefits, a considerable cost-saving opportunity may exist when paying local labor rates. Companies with remote workers spread across the country; however, may seek to reduce their administrative burden and use national averages.

Finally, organizations will need to be aware of local workplace laws and tax implications in each of the areas that they have remote workers to avoid incurring unnecessary penalties.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that there is no “one size fits all” solution. Each organization is unique and will approach remote work differently, leading to a course of action that best addresses the needs of their employees and business strategy.

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