South Florida job-seekers today not only face the best job market in a decade, but also have new opportunities with employers that are adding remote workers locally and nationally.
Recent data is showing explosive growth in what are known as remote and flexible jobs, which involve either different work locations or varying work hours. Flexible jobs increased by 20 percent in 2017, according to online job board FlexJobs.com.
FlexJobs.com currently has listings for remote workers located in Florida from large employers including Xerox, UnitedHealth Group, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Thermo Fisher Scientific, as well as many smaller companies.
The fastest-growing flexible jobs are for: physician’s assistants, nurse practitioners, physical therapist assistants, software developers, mathematicians, medical assistants, occupational therapy assistants, information security analysts, genetic counselors, research analysts and post-secondary health specialty teachers, according to FlexJobs.
Employers say they are hiring remote workers because of the tight labor market — low unemployment and more jobs available — in the region. For workers, remote jobs provide new options for work and lifestyle.
“The whole concept of proving face-time in the office is not necessarily needed like it was in the ’80s and ’90s,” said Chris Pyle, CEO of Champion Solutions Group in Boca Raton, which hires remote workers in technology, sales and marketing.
The tech services company employs 70 workers in Boca Raton, and another 40 elsewhere in Florida, as well as in Georgia, North Carolina and Ohio.
“The majority of work that we do we’re in front of customers. Getting back in the car and driving back to [headquarters] doesn’t make any sense,” Pyle said.
Other South Florida employers that offer remote jobs include Ultimate Software in Weston, which specializes in human resources software; WoundTechin Hollywood, which hires remote nurse practitioners and physician assistants; and NCCI in Boca Raton, a worker’s compensation insurance data firm where many employees work one to two days a week at home; and e-Builder, a Plantation-based construction software company where about 30 percent of the work force is remote.
Pamela Gottlieb had just joined e-Builder last March, when her husband, Jack, was offered a job in Knoxville, Tenn., where they were building their dream home near the mountains. The couple, in their early 50s and not ready to retire, had to both secure jobs to make the move work, so Gottlieb inquired about continuing her role as a business analyst. She said e-Builder made the transition easy.
“The company didn’t have any other employees in Tennessee at the time, but they were very willing to explore what it would take to get health-care benefits in the area. In a short amount of time, I got the green light,” she said.
And e-Builder didn’t have to find and train a new employee for the job.
A new survey by Fort Lauderdale-based Citrix Systems, which provides tools for remote workers, says 69 percent of office workers regularly work remotely, and that many of them prefer the lifestyle.
Of those surveyed, 40 percent said they would turn down a job if the company didn’t offer a flexible work environment, according to Citrix’s survey last fall of 1,300 office professionals by independent research firm Wakefield Research.
Quick company growth is prompting e-Builder and Champion Solutions to hire more remote workers, as well as adding to their local work force.
e-Builder is seeing its business boom as construction projects expand nationwide in the economic recovery. To stay ahead of the growth, e-Builder plans to hire 50 new employees by March, which would bring its work force up to 270. The search will be broad-based.
“We hire wherever the talent is,” said Ron Antevy, CEO of e-Builder.
Antevy said e-Builder has had the most success in hiring workers for remote jobs who have previously worked in the field or at home. “People who have worked in an office all their life, they get lonely and they disconnect,” he said.
Gottlieb said e-Builder “executives make a conscious effort to stay connected, including a weekly email from the CEO. There’s also a monthly employee meeting with live feed.”
She said remote employees are also flown in twice a year to meet with colleagues.
Steve Harper, a client account manager for Champion Solutions, said the company gives him the tools to work well at home or in the field. That includes meetings that keep him up-to-date, training sessions online, videoconferencing with co-workers, and an intranet that provides company information.
“You don’t feel like you’re on an island,” said Harper, who lives in St. Petersburg.
Champion “does a good job of making you a part of the group,” he said.
Harper said Champion also gave him $400 to set up a home office and pays a portion of his cellphone and internet service bills, as well as for the Verizon Jetpack MiFi that helps him connect quickly and securely at places like Starbucks and Panera Bread when he works in the field.
Now that he has worked remotely for more than five years, Harper said he prefers it. With a 9-month-old daughter, the flexibility of his position allows him to lend a helping hand at home.
“There are way too many benefits” to remote work, Harper said. “I thrive upon it. I think I work much harder.”