The Agricultural Industry Should Embrace Remote Work

To return to the office or allow employees to continue to work remotely? That is the question that many organizations are grappling with right now. The agriculture industry has implemented technology in so many ways across the industry, from soil sensing to automation in the tractor cab and genetic testing in livestock and crops. Why should the agriculture industry hesitate to incorporate technology through remote working to make business processes run more efficiently?

Already Suited to Remote Work

A report from McKinsey stated that by 2030, roughly 80 percent of the world’s rural areas will have some type of advanced connectivity infrastructure—meaning employers will have more access to talented candidates in even more locations. This enhanced connectivity will create an economic boom for the agriculture industry, to the tune of more than $500 billion in global gross domestic product.

The agriculture industry is already designed with serving more remote locations in mind—a perfect example of this is input supplier locations. These businesses are typically located in smaller, more rural settings—closer to where their customers need them. Why would it be such a leap to imagine the employees of that input supplier also living and working in the same small, rural communities where their customers live?

In an industry that serves those in rural areas, employers may want to consider looking to rural areas to find their next top employees. Research shows that more than 20 percent of the workforce could work remotely three to five days a week as effectively as they could work from the office. Granted, there are many essential jobs in the agriculture industry that need to be done in person, like milking cows or fixing equipment, but there are many other positions in the agriculture industry where remote work would be a possibility.

For those employers considering making the demand for employees to return to the office, an article from the Gallup Organization stated that three in 10 remote employees say they’re extremely likely to seek another job if their company eliminates remote work. Is your organization ready to hire and train a third of its workforce?

Thriving in a Small Town

By offering remote work, you’re allowing employees the opportunity to be able to work where they live, especially if that’s in a remote location. According to a survey by FlexJobs, 85 percent of rural workers want to work remotely full-time. Those who live in rural areas may not always have access to excellent employment opportunities, and offering remote as an option allows companies to get quality talent. If an employee has high-speed internet access, they can get the job done.

Offering remote work to rural employees also allows them additional cost savings, especially as gas prices continue rising. However, the cost savings also extend to employers. The survey from FlexJobs found that 32 percent of rural workers would take a 10-20 percent cut in pay and 18 percent would work more hours.

Candidates that would thrive in a remote setting are the same ones who would also rise to the top in person. These potential employees have a deep understanding of market trends and subject area knowledge, while also having excellent communication and time management skills and self-discipline.  Maintaining open communication across team members, whether in the office, hybrid or remote, helps build trust and promotes seamless collaboration.

Meeting the Demand for Agricultural Products

Embracing more technology through remote work will help employers in the agriculture industry to better respond to increasing demand for food and overcome the disruptive forces that tend to cause delays in the food supply chain. The tools are available for employers in the agriculture industry to retain high levels of productivity from top talent while serving those who provide our food, fiber and fuel.