2018 looks to be another bright year ahead for remote work.

Despite occasional stories of a company ending its remote work program, the long-term trends all show steady growth in the number of people working remotely.

In 2017, 43 percent of U.S. workers work remotely at least occasionally, up from 9 percent in 2007. Over the last 10 years, the number of people working primarily from home has risen 115 percent. Additionally, remote work has grown faster than any other commute method.

If your company hasn't yet embraced remote work, it's time to start paying attention. Remote work options can benefit the bottom line, recruiting efforts, company culture, productivity rates, ability to be agile, and much more. But rather than telling you my singular experience, it's probably more helpful to learn from other respected, successful companies about their experiences. How do they implement and manage remote work and why do they think it's an important business strategy? What do they know that you don't?

To that end, my company FlexJobs released our fifth-annual list of the 100 Top Companies with Remote Jobs in 2018. The list is based on an analysis of over 49,000 companies to find the 100 that posted the most remote-friendly jobs during the last year.

These companies are leaders in remote work best practices. We can all learn from them, especially when it comes to the very foundation of their remote work programs: why remote work?

Here are three key insights into the remote work strategies of leading remote employers VIPKID, SYKES, Williams-Sonoma, and Dell:

1. First and foremost, remote work benefits their businesses.

For some companies, remote work is what makes the company possible, period.

VIPKID, which took the top spot on our list this year, connects children in China and 32 other countries with teachers worldwide for English language education, and has over 35,000 remote teachers globally. Director of Teacher Community Kevyn Klein says the company's "classes are conducted entirely online and remote work is essential."

At SYKES, a leading customer contact management solutions company with 55,000 employees, "work-at-home employees are more engaged and consistently deliver high-quality service," says Vice President of Work-at-Home Operations Beth Beard. The company's remote work program is called SYKESHome.

Performance measurement data backs this up. "Customer satisfaction, call resolution, and other key performance indicators for SYKESHome are higher than from traditional suppliers."

2. Hiring remotely helps companies diversify talent pools and turn geography from foe to friend.

One of the most oft-cited reasons these companies use remote work: to expand their talent pools.

Remote work "gives us the flexibility to not only attract great talent that otherwise might not want to travel to a location," says Craig Barnes, Senior Vice President of Customer Care at the specialty home goods retail company Williams-Sonoma. "It also allows us to expand our talent pool by getting us into markets all across the United States."

SYKES Executive Vice President and General Manager, Jim Farnsworth, says remote work helps the company "make geography our ally." SYKES "can go anywhere to find specialized talent in tech, finance, and healthcare, or whatever expertise is required."

Breaking down geographic barriers also "offers opportunity to typically underserved members of the workforce, such as the disabled, rural, inner city and single-parents," adds SYKES' Beth Beard.

3. Remote workers are more loyal, engaged, and likely to champion their employer.

When employees have access to flexible work options like remote work, global computer technology company and long-time remote work leader Dell says they become active promoters of the organization and loyal, engaged employees.

Jennifer Newbill, Director of Global Employment Brand at Dell, says, "Our employees who indicate that they have flexibility in their current roles have a higher eNPS [Employee Net Promoter Score]. What is good for the employees can also be good for business."

For companies, the benefit of high eNPS scores goes far beyond being known as a good place to work. Employees with high eNPS scores will "enthusiastically recommend employment at a company," explains CultureIQ's Jamie Nichol, in "The Employee Net Promoter Score: The What, the Why, the How."

That translates to customer satisfaction and, presumably, increased revenues. "Companies in the top quartile of employee engagement have 10% higher customer ratings," says Nichol.

Where to Go from Here: Putting Remote Work into Practice

To be sure, remote work is not without its challenges. Leaders who oversee remote work programs need to figure out solutions to extend company culture in a virtual environment, devise metrics to track remote work ROI, and combat worker isolation, for a start.

Companies like these four and the rest of the 100 top companies for remote work have created programs that seek to maximize the benefits by overcoming challenges, and as remote work continues to grow, we should all learn from their examples.

Published on: Jan 31, 2018