C-Suite Agenda

How CEOs Can Stay Connected With Their Fully Remote Workforces

Companies want to hire the best of the best. But as competition for elite talent intensifies, businesses who seriously explore and invest in a smart remote workforce will stay ahead of their competitors.

Technology companies are in a unique position because they are one of the few industries that can operate with a fully remote workforce.

All employees need is a computer and a strong internet connection, making it easy for tech companies to leverage work from home opportunities to hire top-notch developers and programmers. As remote workforces become the industry norm, however, CEOs will need to adjust their management skills to keep employee engagement high — whether they work in the office or not.

A remote workforce gives companies greater flexibility and control over who they hire

Companies can no longer rely on their local talent pools alone — the fact is, there are shortages of talented individuals living in the immediate vicinity of any company. What’s more, companies like Amazon, for example, expect their second headquarters to employ 50,000 people, potentially draining the local talent pool upon development. Restricting candidacy pools by location makes it harder for employers to fill positions immediately and ignores the skilled candidate who may live just far enough to qualify for work from home privileges.

With a remote workforce, companies are also addressing two things that directly impact their ability to rapidly innovate and push business objectives forward:

  1. Competency of employees. As a CEO, choosing between two mediocre applicants who live nearby and one highly skilled individual overseas should be a no-brainer — hire the smartest of the three and allow him or her to work remotely. Allowing the best talent to work where they live can also increase employee engagement, improving chances of retention. Your rockstar employee will appreciate you that much more when you do not force them to uproot his or her life just to move closer to a job, strengthening employee loyalty.

  2. Operating and hiring costs. A fully stocked fridge, ping pong tables and kegerators are great office perks — until employers realize there is no space left for their growing workforce. Rapidly growing organizations have to account for the cost of physical space as their workforce expands, an expense that can quickly spiral out of control. With remote employees, however, employers will find it much easier to scale without operating within four walls.

Keeping employees engaged is a top priority for CEOs managing remote workforces

The biggest challenge keeping organizations from committing to a remote workforce is engagement. Specifically, how can leaders cultivate strong company culture and stay engaged with their employees when entire teams don’t even live in the same city? With almost 7 out of 10 remote employees saying they feel their priorities are not respected, this can be problematic for companies trying to keep morale and productivity high.

Thanks to digital workplace technologies, it’s easier than ever for CEOs to stay in touch with and engage in frequent conversations with their global employees. Tools like Skype and Slack make instant communication a breeze, and video conferencing tools allow CEOs to get in much-needed face time with their employees. In addition to implementing digital workplace solutions, CEOs should also consider the following to boost employee morale among disparate teams:

  • Host an introductory, in-person meeting for new hires. While Slack and Skype make regular team meetings for remote workers a reality, face-to-face meetings are still the best way to connect with individual employees. To avoid alienating remote workers and making work feel impersonal, CEOs should fly out to meet new groups of employees where they live. This also gives employers an opportunity to connect with and get to know the employees they’re entrusting with important company projects.

  • Lean on project managers to disseminate and gather information. While senior leadership should encourage face-to-face meetings with employees as much as possible, it can be challenging when there is only one CEO. By appointing team leaders, a CEO can keep tabs on every employee and lean on project managers to disseminate announcements about the company. Team leaders can also gather feedback from remote employees and feed this information back up the ladder to senior leadership.

  • Empower teams with financial and technical support. When employees feel supported by their employers, they are more likely to be motivated and inspired to do good work. As a CEO, it’s important to firmly establish that you have your team’s back regardless of where they work. Reassuring remote workers that they have the same financial and technical resources available to them as employees in the office goes a long way in establishing remote employee loyalty.

Top talent is in high demand, and employers are doing themselves a disservice if they limit the radius of their employee search pools. With the right combination of workforce management tools and a commitment to engage with teams on a regular basis, CEOs can easily ignore the distance separating them from their talented employees.

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Francis Dinha
Francis Dinha is the CEO and co-founder of OpenVPN, a security-focused open source VPN protocol. With more than 50 million downloads, OpenVPN has been in the open source networking space since its founding in 2004.