Remote work seems like the solution for every geographically-independent startup, and why wouldn’t it be? The overhead costs associated with occupying corporate real estate such as rents, mortgages and security deposits are virtually nonexistent (pun intended).
Remote teams also benefit from a more expansive and diverse applicant pool, as they are able to broaden their search for qualified candidates beyond their physical location. Employees are able to incorporate work into their lifestyles and not necessarily the other way around, and this certainly helps to enhance employee happiness and reduce attrition.
A recent study of 8000 global employees and employers indicates that many companies agree – 3 out of every 4 companies are already adopting a remote work model.
But is remote work really the next best trend in startup culture, and if it is, is working remotely the best move for your business? Here are the questions to ask yourself before taking the leap.
Is My Business Model Suited For A Remote Work Setup?
Remote work is suited for fields like information technology, marketing, customer service, and mobile app development. According to Remoters.net, 29.2 percent of remote jobs posted on their site are for technology roles, followed by marketing roles which make up 24.5 percent of all remote jobs posted.
Obviously, the remote work model does not work for every business. For example, geographically-dependent businesses are very limited with remote work options. Think about it – would you expect your barista to deliver you a cup of coffee through your computer?
However, there are components of any business that may benefit from remote work. Consider, for example, the following:
- Most businesses, including yours, have at least one role that can be worked on remotely. Even coffee shop owners may find it useful to conduct meetings and up-training sessions remotely, without having to commute to each location.
- Adapting certain components of your business to a remote work model can save you time, money and resources. Continuing with our coffee shop example, such geographically-restricted company can also consider outsourcing digitally-oriented work to contractors or businesses that work remotely. Think of tasks like social media management or even payroll and accounting. This also increases productivity at the coffee shop because baristas aren’t focusing on administrative tasks, so they can focus on doing what they do best – make great coffee!
As a business owner, here are a few points to keep in mind when making the jump to remote work include:
- Transitioning to remote work is harder for established businesses than startups. It has been done before, of course, but adapting existing processes and infrastructure to a remote work model is trickier.
- Team members have to make adjustments to the way they work together. Adapting to remote work staples like daily/weekly standup meetings via video conferences, more stringent deadlines and more self-reliance on task delegation requires buy-in from your team.
Full Remote Work Model Or To Keep Office?
Will my business go ‘all-in’ and adopt a full remote work model or will we keep an office?
Taking a slow, phased approach when adopting a remote work model has several benefits. For existing businesses, a slow transition allows employees the opportunity to prepare their mindset and lifestyle for remote working.
Keep in mind that transitioning your business to a remote work model creates challenges for both the employer and employee. For many employees, these challenges may call for sharp personal accountability adjustments like acclimating to new deadlines, the incorporation of progress benchmarks, and regular required meetings.
Agorapulse successfully transitioned to a semi-remote work model in 2017. The company now has offices in France and Argentina, and remote workers in other parts of the world, including the United States, Ireland, Mexico, Slovakia, and Brazil. They embraced the learning opportunities that came with hiring remotely and found a diverse pool of qualified candidates much sooner than they thought.
On the other hand, Groove decided to go “all-in” with remote work. They closed their office and forced all staff to go remote. Why? Because they believed that a “mixed” team – with some remote and some on-site employees – would always feel like there were two different classes of employees within the organization.
Before incorporating any remote work in your business, you must first decide which teams will be remote in the first place. Do this by examining what talents are needed for which roles within your organization. Next, determine which of these roles can be handled remotely and which must be in-house. Once you’ve laid all of this on the table, your path towards remote work, if that is, in fact, the most appropriate path for your business, becomes clearer.
Co-working Spaces… A Possible Middle Path to Success
Interested in the concept of a remote work model, but also need the practical utility of office spaces? Co-working suites offer these services for businesses and entrepreneurs with nuanced needs that don’t necessarily require a full office setup. Many offer desks, conference room rentals, mailbox services, and even teleconferencing equipment for a nominal monthly fee or on a subscription basis. Small business incubators also provide support in the form of seminars, training sessions, classes and networking events for entrepreneurs and their companies.
When the business is growing, a lot of the time owners will think it’s time to expand. Business might be good now, but there are always ups and downs. Expanding too soon could leave the business in a serious hole. By adopting a remote work model, you’re saving on the amount of space and equipment your business needs to operate. There are no extra desks, computers, or laptops to buy. No extra phone lines to install or office supplies to stock up on.
Have a clear understanding of what you want and ensure that those working on the projects clearly grasp what the task at hand is and make it easy for them to communicate with you when they have questions. If someone wants to work remotely, give them the autonomy to do so and test whether they continue to be as productive. If they sway one way or the other, address it. Communication is key, if you think that just because they are miles away you do not have to communicate, you are wrong.