Remote work models have become more popular in the last year, with many companies eventually deciding to go fully remote. The company Dropbox, famous for its file sharing services, has decided to let their employees work from home permanently. An office space will be there but all employees have been given the option of working from home permanently.
Although the concept of remote working has become extremely popular and mainstream now, the concept in itself is nothing new. The company Automattic, which is the company behind WordPress, has been using the remote working model for the last 15 years. The founding developer of WordPress, Matt Mullenweg said that they have more than 800 employees, spread over 62 countries. Even Web Design firms like Basecamp needed a collaboration tool way back in 2003. They grew tired of clunky collaboration tools and created Basecamp. Remote work models are viewed as the most suitable models for budding businesses and startups. There are good reasons behind this. Remote working saves mortgage or rent costs for employers who decided to go for a full remote work business model. Apart from rent, they save on other miscellaneous charges that come along with renting a workspace, such as cleaning staff payments and cafeteria costs. Global Workplace Analytics stated that upto one third of the employees would also prefer to work from home rather than take a pay raise. This becomes another avenue for cost cutting.
Another advantage of the remote work setting is that employees are able to include work into their lifestyle and not build their lifestyle around work. This helps in keeping them happy and hence more productive. According to a Stanford study, remote workers are 13% more productive than their in office colleagues. This is attributed to the flexible workspace that remote work offers. Employers can also get more employees to work and broaden their horizons without geographical restrictions in the remote working space.
But before you jump to conclusions and go for a remote business model, ask yourself: ”Is the remote business model just a bubble or here to stay?”, “Should I actually go for a remote work business model?”. Here are factors that need to be addressed.
1. IS MY INDUSTRY SUITED FOR THIS MODEL?
Check what industry you are in, what industry your business is working in. Job vacancies for certain sectors are more predominant to be available for remote settings. Remoters.net stated that the highest number of remote job roles posted on their website are for tech roles at 29.2% and the next segment is for marketing roles at 24.5%. If not fully, you can implement some roles that are remote working and do not need an office setting. You can outsource digital marketing and work that can happen remotely such as accounting.
But there’s a catch. Remote work is largely based on self-discipline and goal oriented employees. Make sure your employees are goal oriented and driven towards your organization's goals. Mindtheproduct.com states that outcome driven products are pioneers to innovation and growth. To ensure that you are ready to tackle some of the virtual team challenges, here are some tips.
Positioning: Before you decide to go for a hybrid model of work in which certain roles are instructed to work from home, decide who to position where in a hybrid model team. Make a list of the talent you have. Segregate based on what teams you need on site and which teams can operate remotely. Play on their strengths and weaknesses. Ask them what they will be more comfortable with. People who commute large distances might opt for a work from home setting to save the time and money needed to commute everyday.
2. SHOULD IT BE FULLY REMOTE OR SOME IN OFFICE WORK MUST BE DONE?
An all in approach may not be suitable. There is a natural learning curve and people need to get acclimatized to the remote work setting, especially for existing businesses that need some getting used to both for the employer and the employee. Work parameters change and accountability takes on a whole new meaning. Team collaboration tools like Butter become essential for keeping track of employee work, assigning tasks and to keep in touch with each other through a chat feature.
It is advisable to start slowly. Easy tasks and small virtual meetings can be conducted virtually to get the hang of it. Notice the shortcomings, communicate and work around them. See who is comfortable in what position. In such situations. communication becomes the key to collaboration. Although they sound similar there is a difference.
3. FULL TIME EMPLOYEES OR FREELANCERS?
The biggest dilemma of working remotely means that employers are torn between whether to hire full time employees or go for third party contractors and freelancers. There is a difference between the two that must be kept in mind when making the decision. The primary difference is the compensation and tax etc.
With freelancers, you are free from the bonds of having to provide healthcare and other such amenities. But on the flipside, they also work on their own accord, and on their own terms. This means that your control over them is limited. Employees on the other hand can give you more control over the work and their working hours. They are also reliant on you about their employment taxations and tax withholdings.
There is no one answer to this dilemma. There are two ways to decide. For startups in their nascent stages that have a limited cash flow, hiring freelancers makes more sense and gives them more flexibility that full time employees. This strategic decision saves the company a lot of money and effort into training and personalizing instead, going for freelancers and contractors. The same might not apply for established businesses that focus on quality employee retention through elaborate training and other such incentives. Co- working spaces are a better alternative in such situations. They split the difference and help keep a balance in the workplace.
Before going fully remote, identify your strengths and play on them while trying to maintain a balanced workplace that combines the best of both worlds. Identify opportunities to switch to remote working after you read this article and decide which of them would be the best way forward.