Five tips for setting up a remote workforce

A growing number of professionals are heading to the office without ever leaving the house, a recent Accountemps survey shows. More than one-third (36%) of chief financial officers (CFOs) said the number of work-from-home and other remote working opportunities has increased in the last three years, while only 3% have seen a decline.

Sixty-eight percent of CFOs at companies with more than 1,000 employees see remote work opportunities on the rise: double the percentage of CFOs at companies with 20 to 49 employees (34%).

Among companies offering remote work arrangements, higher morale and retention are the primary benefits, according to 35% of those polled. Another 28% said the best aspect of this perk is increasing productivity by eliminating commute time.

The survey was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on interviews with more than 2,100 CFOs from a stratified random sample of companies in more than 20 of the largest U.S. metropolitan areas.

CFOs were asked, "Have remote work opportunities (for example, telecommuting or working from a satellite office) within your company increased, decreased, or remained the same in the last three years?" Their responses:

  • Increased greatly: 12%
  • Increased somewhat: 24%
  • No change: 49%
  • Decreased somewhat: 2%
  • Decreased greatly: 1%
  • Doesn't apply/no remote work: 13%

(Responses do not total 100% due to rounding)

CFOs whose companies provide remote work opportunities were asked, "Which one of the following would you say is the single greatest benefit of offering remote working options to your employees?" Their responses:

  • Improves retention and morale by promoting work-life balance: 35%
  • Increases productivity by reducing commute time: 28%
  • Saves money by requiring less office space: 15%
  • Provides access to a broader talent pool: 10%
  • Don't know: 11%

(Responses do not total 100% due to rounding)

"Employee preferences for 'anytime, anywhere' work arrangements are hard to ignore," says Bill Driscoll, a district president of Accountemps. "Although telecommuting isn't suitable for every role, it can be a powerful incentive for employees who want greater flexibility. It offers other advantages to businesses, such as greater productivity, cost savings on office space, the ability to tap into talent in different geographical areas and time zones, and more around-the-clock client service."

Driscoll adds, "The embedded technology infrastructure at larger companies may make it easier for them to offer telework options. But as mobile technology has become more affordable and accessible, investing in these tools could be a smart move by smaller firms to help them compete for talent."

Accountemps offers employers five tips for setting up a remote workforce:

  1. Establish guidelines. Determine which roles are eligible for telecommuting and other requirements, such as a steady and positive performance record and proven ability to work with minimal or no supervision.
  2. Clarify your expectations. Make sure participants understand program parameters, such as being accessible during certain times or keeping similar hours as their onsite colleagues.
  3. Pick up the phone or use video conferencing. For remote arrangements to work, "out of sight" can't be "out of mind." Email is handy for conveying facts, but hearing an employee's voice or seeing his or her expressions makes for better communication.
  4. Make sure employees and job candidates are aware. Promote your company's remote working options to prospective and existing staff. A fail here is a missed opportunity for your organization and could impede recruitment and retention efforts.
  5. Don't forget security. Be sure remote workers are well trained in security matters, such as maintaining virus protection, keeping software updated, and safeguarding confidential information.

View an infographic of the full research findings.

Remote work arrangements can raise compliance issues related to wage-hour laws, worker's compensation and safety, more so but not exclusively with nonexempt workers. Contact CBIA's HR Hotline, 860.244.1900 or email, for a sample policies on telecommuting/remote work arrangements.