Your best candidates demand to work remotely
July 30, 2015
Tuesday morning. It's 6:32am. You yawn. You stretch and turn over on your side.
No alarm woke you up. You, like most highly-productive people like waking early.
You rise, stretch again, and don your bathrobe. You go into the kitchen.
You press play on a podcast, leisurely cook yourself a healthy breakfast,
eat, and then make coffee. It's 7:41am.
You sit at your desk and decide on your first task. You work, with no
interruptions, for 1 hour and 54 minutes. It's 9:35.
Most people are still stuck in traffic,
but you just clocked nearly 2 hours of completely
You take a break to stretch and make some more coffee. You check your email,
because you know checking your email before you complete your most important
task of the day is the best way to ensure it won't get done. You process all
your email. Inbox zero. It's 10:00.
You have a brief, 5-minute meeting with your team members. You
do this every morning. Once the call is over, you work again, with
laser-focus, for another hour.
It's lunch time. You make a healthy salad for lunch. You spent only 28% of what
it would have cost to buy a comparable lunch at a restaurant.
You take your time washing the dishes.
You decide you'd like to take a walk. You take a leisurely half-hour walk
around the neighborhood. You remember you need to buy some toiletries, so
you stop at the grocery store.
When you return to your house, you sit for another two hours of
uninterrupted work. Your superior is thrilled with your output. You are
thrilled with being able to work on your terms.
It's 4:35. You turn off your computer and go spend time with your family and
If you work remotely, it's likely you're familiar with the lifestyle I
Thousands of programmers, designers, writers and other
creative professionals are working remotely and enjoying the fruits of a self-driven,
telecommute lifestyle. And thousands of companies are reaping the benefits of sourcing the
best talent by allowing them to work on their own terms.
The Best Will Demand It
If your organization doesn't allow remote work, it's not attracting the best
talent, because the best talent will demand to work remotely.
Remote work is becoming more common, and your best talent isn't having
a hard time finding employment with remote-friendly employers.
The best talent has invested in creating a home workspace tailored
to their personal tastes. They have created the ideal place for
their productivity to flourish, and you didn't spend a dime. They've created
systems that enhance their unique work style and culture.
Your best candidates are self-motivated, outcome-oriented people. Why would
someone self-motivated and outcome-oriented want to spend their entire day in
an office? They want to be spending their days productive when they can
be, and enjoying life when they run out of steam.
They recognize the finite nature of time, which is why they strive to do excellent
work for you while reserving the right to enjoy mid-day leisure.
Creative knowledge work is unlike
the industrial and clerical work that came before it. There is no longer a linear
correlation between hours worked and productivity. A programmer who works eight hours in a row
will not produce twice as much as a programmer who works four hours in a row.
I have personally found that I reach my productivity ceiling at around four
hours' work in a day. Why are you requiring your team to stick around for eight hours straight?
A Broader Base of Talent
According to Payscale, the median salary for a senior web developer in San
In Seattle, it's
That's an $18,254 difference, and they're happy to split it with you.
If you're hiring for a San Francisco company and you source your
developers from the north, you could incentivize your candidates with a $9,127
salary increase over their local Seattle options, and save $9,127 per year
compared to hiring someone in San Francisco. It's a win-win scenario for both
you and your new hire.
With hyper-specialization becoming more common for technical workers, hiring
outside your local metropolitan area also means you're able to find talent
with experience that better matches your organization's needs.
When you offer a relocation package, you incur the additional risk that your
new hire won't be the star player you thought they'd be. You'll have lost the
airfare, the moving expenses, and the time spent interviewing and training
them. When you hire remotely, your hiring costs are minimal.
Commuting is Expensive
In America, the average commute to work is 25.5 minutes. That's 51 minutes per
day, or 4 hours and 15 minutes per week. That equates to a 10% pay cut: 4
hours of unpaid time for every 40 spent working. But that's not the worst of
The average per-mile cost of operating a sedan in America is
Assuming a 30-mile round-trip commute, that's $18 per day, or $90 per week
spent commuting, in addition to the opportunity cost of the lost time!
Consider an average-salaried San Francisco senior web developer. They make
$102,157 per year. Assuming they work 50 weeks per year, for 40 hours per week,
that means their effective hourly rate is $51. When we apply their effective $51 hourly
rate to their time spent commuting, their opportunity cost lost to commuting is
4.25 hours × $51 = $216.75 per week. That's an annual cost of
$10,837.50. Add the cost of operating the car, and their effective salary
Commuting has turned your candidate's $102,157 salary into $86,819. That's
a 15% effective pay cut. Armed with this knowledge, how many of your best and
brightest candidates do you think would agree to a daily commute?
Remote workers enjoy a lifestyle that cannot be valued in dollars. They are
high-output, self-motivated professionals who recognize the opportunity costs
associated with mandatory office hours, and so they seek employment with firms
that also recognize these costs. The life of a remote worker is richer and less restrictive.
This richness and freedom will translate into better work for you.