What are CEOs afraid of when they send employees to work from home? The main concern is the efficiency of the workers: how do you manage them from a distance? Will they be able to communicate with clients, partners and the other team members productively?

This brings up a question: should a remote employee receive less money than one who works in the office? After all, an office employee must get up at the same time every day, get to work, and spend time and resources on it.

A remote employee can work when it is convenient for them and it is quite difficult to track this. Does that mean you should adjust their pay or simply put more effort into the management process? Let’s evaluate the risk and benefits of having staff work from home and find the answer.

Advantages of having remote employees

If you hire remote workers, you can rent or maintain a smaller office space or do without it altogether - for example, that’s how many online stores or companies that provide digital services work. 

You can save money by:

  • Reducing of expenses for the arrangement of workspaces - a remote employee buys a PC, printer, copier and furniture themselves;

  • Attracting employees from the suburbs - due to lower living costs, they can be paid less than those who live in the capital while maintaining high labor efficiency;

Saving on taxes, vacation pay, and other deductions. You can have all these reductions if you avoid registering your employees. How do you do it legally? We will tell you in the subsequent sections.

When you recruit office staff, they can simply simulate productive activities all day long. Remote workers can build a schedule themselves, and you will only evaluate the result, especially if you set up a project-by-project payment. This is especially important for businesses in small towns where there is little to no highly qualified individuals. You can find a specialist of any level when hiring to work from home.

If you need staff that are available 24/7, for example, to organize online support for users of a service, you can simply hire people from different time zones. Then everyone will be able to work during a convenient daytime, and your clients will receive advice around the clock.

Not the most obvious advantage is the ability to continue working with female employees on maternity leave. Young mothers can work part-time or with a different schedule, and you do not have to look for a replacement for a valuable employee.

If one of your specialists wants to move to another city, they will be able to keep the job by working remotely. Thus, they will receive an official salary while at home.

The challenges of having remote workers

Harder to find

Finding an employee in the office is a little easier, because you see them at the interview and can immediately test them, and to save time, hold a meeting with several candidates at once. Remote candidates can be sent the same test task to evaluate their performance, but it can happen that a person who showed themselves as a good specialist at the first stage of the interview disappears, misses the deadline or does the work poorly. Then you have to look for someone else.

Communication problems

A common argument against remote work is that an employee will not be able to communicate with colleagues. However, today, in addition to phone calls and mail, there are many other tools for remote collaboration. There are task management systems, such as Wrike, Google Docs and Dropbox. A competent combination of these tools helps employees from different cities, countries, and continents to work together effectively.

Time differences

Another problem arises when the working hours of different employees do not coincide: after all, some people like to work in the morning, some in the evening, and others prefer nighttime. If the activity requires constant real-time interaction from employees, communication can be an issue. Teams deal with this in different ways: meetings, fixed hours for work, a combination of remote and office work.

Productivity management

Even though almost everyone dreams of working remotely, not everyone can work productively in such conditions. Outside the office, the staff is confronted with many distractions. Only a small percentage of specialists are capable of self-discipline, and before sending an employee to work from home, you need to make sure that they are self-sufficient in this regard.

If you hire a new person to work remotely, in the early stages you should give them minor tasks, get feedback from their colleagues, clients and partners. After that, you can decide whether it’s safe to entrust them with a bigger challenge. By offering an unverified employee a serious job, you risk the company's reputation.

Inability to keep track of everything

Perhaps the main argument against remote work is the lack of control. How can you manage an employee if there is no way of seeing what they are doing at any given moment? The natural solution here is to monitor the results of their work. 

But what if they are assigned tasks the result of which can be seen only after a long period of time? In this case, online management platforms and tools will come to the rescue. Break down a big task into smaller milestones and keep track of each step with tools such as Trello or Zoho.

When it comes to time tracking programs, one can single out systems for self-control and tools for controlling employees, which can be conditionally subdivided into “tough” and “loyal”. Some of the  "hard" programs are capable of monitoring every step of a staff member - take screenshots, count clicks and keystrokes, and follow them through a webcam. “Loyal” systems monitor more gently, without violating the personal space of the specialist, while still keeping track of their activity during working hours.

How to increase the productivity of a remote employee

It's one thing to talk about working remotely when trying it yourself is a whole other story.  Here are some guidelines on making sure your work-from-home staff are efficient.

There are some ways to improve the quality of work:

  • Transfer from office to home only those employees whose attitude you are confident in.

  • Hire people who have already worked remotely 

  • Conduct interviews thoroughly.

  • Create the optimal conditions for high-quality communication.

  •  Set up an agreement about regular reports.

  • Monitor their work. Monitoring systems are necessary not so much for staff control as for analyzing labor efficiency and making informed decisions about management.

 

The advantages of remote work are quite obvious, and with proper management, they overcome their disadvantages. The employer saves on renting an office, cleaning fees, utilities, and equipping workplaces.

Conclusion

Many people are tormented by the question: “Should I take a pay cut when transferring from office to home?”

During the course of the pandemic, pay cuts in the workplace have become commonplace. Many companies have shut down or relocated their employees to reduce the risk of infection.

Remote workers have the same rights and guarantees as all other employees, with rare exceptions. The transfer of an employee to a remote position is not a legal basis for reducing their official salary or depriving them of bonus payments.

The difference from other employees may be manifested in the fact that when working remotely, the person works outside the employer's location and can independently set the mode of their working and rest hours.

In any case, such workers retain the right to weekly and daily breaks and to receive full wages without any restrictions. They still get to receive incentive and bonus payments, have annual paid leave and benefits for temporary disability.

The employer must carry out compulsory social insurance of digital workers against accidents, as well as familiarize them with labor protection requirements when working with equipment recommended or provided by the employer

At the same time, the owner of the business is not obliged to conduct a special assessment of working conditions, mandatory medical examinations, and also to issue them personal protective equipment at its own expense.

Reducing the payoff to a remote employee is discrimination. This decline only takes place if you have a compensation strategy presented in advance. In this case, you can change the salary while adhering to the official rules. In some cases, remote employers working from home manage to receive compensation.