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Benefits of Remote Workforces Outweigh Challenges, Says Wells Fargo Exec

While there are plenty of challenges to managing remote teams, finding talent with the right skills – as many employers today struggle to do – isn’t one of them at Wells Fargo.

According to Wendy McKoy (pictured),  Senior Vice President and Head of Talent Acquisition for the Technology & Operations Group at Wells Fargo, enabling employees to work remotely makes “recruiting 10 times easier [because] we can source where we know the skills are available.”

McKoy recently discussed, via email, the challenges and benefits of having a remote workforce, and provided insight on how other companies can successfully manage and develop remote workforces within their own organizations.

What benefits does a remote workforce offer your organization? The benefits are numerous for both the employee as well as the employer. Our employees are able to save money on work clothes, commuting costs, and eating lunches out. The time it saves them results in great work life balance. As a company, we benefit from reduced real estate costs as well as more engaged and productive employees.

What are the challenges?  The biggest challenge would certainly be the lack of face time, which can affect relationships. Our employees don’t always have the benefit of bumping into someone in the hall and asking how their weekend was, or if they watched the last episode of ‘American Idol’.  We have to be more intentional about taking time to connect on a personal level when we meet over the phone.

How does the option to work remotely contribute to your ability to recruit?  When a hiring manager is open to a telecommuting arrangement for a new hire, or flexible with where workers may be located, it makes our job recruiting 10 times easier. We can source where we know the skills are available.

What special accommodations do you need to make for remote workers? In today’s virtual environment, a phone and an internet connection are crucial. Everything else depends on where they are and what the situation is.

Does your organization do anything to enable remote workers to meet in real life? Absolutely! We get together at least once a year as a work team for a face-to-face meeting. There, we do some team-building activities so everyone can try to connect on a personal level. We also have regular video conferences, which enable us to see everyone in real time on the video monitors in their work locations.

Are there rules around who can and cannot work remotely? We have guidelines we share with our managers and our team members to help them determine if a remote work arrangement would be viable in their situation. Each situation is determined on a case-by-case basis.

What percentage of your workforce has flexible work arrangements? Approximately 70 percent of my team has a flexible work arrangement – whether it is a full-time telecommuting agreement or working hours that better accommodate their commutes or kids’ school schedules. I am a big advocate of flexible work arrangements. To me, it’s a simple decision and the benefits far outweigh the challenges.

When it comes to recruiting, what do you look for in an employee who will be working remotely? Because remote employees work without direct supervision the majority of the time, it is critical for them to have strong time management skills, goal orientation and the ability to deliver on results. Some people have a hard time in a remote environment while others thrive in it. You need to understand if they have been successful in the past in environments where there is some ambiguity and how they have delivered on their goals.

Do you manage remote workers? How do you overcome the challenges that come up?

Mary Lorenz

About Mary Lorenz

Mary is a copywriter for CareerBuilder, specializing in B2B marketing and corporate recruiting best practices and social media. In addition to creating copy for corporate advertising and marketing campaigns, she researches and writes about employee attraction, engagement and retention. Whenever possible, she makes references to pop culture. Sometimes, those references are even relevant. A New Orleans native, Mary now lives in Chicago, right down the street from the best sushi place in the city. It's awesome.
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