A simple introduction to remote companies and working from anywhere.

The COVID19 pandemic has accelerated remote work and has caused many companies to become remote-friendly, or go fully remote.

But what do these terms actually mean, and what challenges and benefits will these emerging work models have on how we communicate, connect and create?

In this article we’re going to cover the basics on what you need to know to start and manage a remote company with a distributed team.

  1. Why your company should go remote-first.
  2. Remote-first vs. remote friendly.
  3. Remote-first benefits.

Going remote-first

A Remote-first company is an emerging trend in organisational design and management. It's an organisational strategy that prioritises working collaboratively and remotely over being in one location.

It also means not trying to recreate the office environment, but instead using online tools and apps to streamline communication between teams.

It's an alternative to having employees work from a central office where everyone has to commute to work each day eg. It's not unusual anymore for an employee to live on one coast while their employer is located on the other.

A growing number of companies are planning to become remote-first on a permanent basis after they realised the benefits of shifting to a work from home model during the COVID-19 crisis.

“A remote company is like a human cloud. It can scale seamlessly and is designed to be run globally. The world becomes your arena when you can access talent or work from anywhere.”– Collin Thompson

On-demand professionals enjoy flexibility and freedom, but for companies trying to manage a distributed/fully remote company, it’s easy to slip into chaos. That’s why we built Intrepid Market; a community to list, buy, and sell on-demand technology and creative services for remote companies.

In the spirit of the on-demand economy, we want to bring opportunity, transparency, and fluidity to the market. Our marketplace connects remote companies with qualified professionals and agencies that are equipped to execute on any given project from anywhere in the world.

For remote company founders and leaders, sign up - its free

If you’re a design or development company, sell on Intrepid - it’s free to list

Remote-first vs. remote friendly

Remote-first businesses are those in which working from home or on the road is the default. These firms can be co-located and yet work remotely as well. While a remote-friendly business may have occasional remote workers, a remote-first company is one that operates remotely all the time.

Remotely-friendly workplaces enable employees to work in an area of their choosing.

One employee could dial into an online meeting while working from home, for example, while the rest of the team meets face-to-face at your main location.

Remote-first companies build an employee platform that let's staff work from anywhere.

It's an important consideration because it gives employees the flexibility to do their jobs from any location — at home, in a cafe, or on a beach. It also ensures that all team members are working from a consistent digital environment, regardless of where they are.

In general, a remote-first company assumes a fully remote workforce and sets up its operations to be able to run regardless of where its employees are at any given moment.

For example, Buffer allows employees to work from anywhere in the world. The key is that it offers the technology employees need to do their jobs while empowering them to work from wherever they'd like. It's important to remember that remote-first doesn't mean remote-only.

These days, more and more companies are remote-friendly — they embrace employees who work away from the office at least some of the time. A remote-first company assumes employees are never in the office.

Remote-first companies are a new breed of business in the 21st century. Because of this, they have an incredible edge over traditional companies. For example, they don't need a designated office space because their employees can work from anywhere in the world with access to high-speed internet.

Going remote is hard for any company new to the practice, as remote companies require careful consideration when setting up because they come with inherent challenges.

Many companies have found success, so it’s not impossible, but be patient with your remote company or team. It's hard to get started, but it's worth it.

Consider every aspect before making the move, especially how to deal with the following issues:

  • Communication & collaboration. Coordinating video conferencing, managing internet access/connections, time zones, working hours.
  • Working from home. Proper setup, personal distractions, and lack of motivation
  • Isolation. Minimal or lack of fulfilling social interactions
  • Culture. It’s harder to build unified company culture.

The Benefits of a Remote-first company

Remote-first companies have several benefits over traditionally office-bound businesses, but they’re still fairly uncommon. The term “remote-first” might sound a little silly, but it actually has a lot of practical benefits. For one, remote work is an excellent tool for recruiting and building talent. A remote-first company doesn't just groom talent, it creates it.

Companies typically become remote-first workplaces because they see clear-cut business advantages in this way of working.

Cost savings:  The remote work approach can help companies save money. Specifically, the approach allows organisations to cut down on their physical presence while boosting employee satisfaction and reducing operational costs. If you’re in the process of opening your first office space, ask yourself if employees really need a physical location at this point. Many do not.

Productivity: Remote work is smart. It leads to higher productivity rates. Having the option to be independent and work where and when one wants can lead to increased happiness and less stress, especially for those who travel frequently for work. Because employees have the freedom to work on their own terms, it naturally results in fewer hours, less stress, and greater satisfaction.

Here are some other interesting findings on the impact of remote work on productivity. Sun Microsystems’ found that employees spent 60% of the commuting time they save performing work for the company. Remote American Express workers produced 43% more than their office-based counterparts.

As the COVID-19 pandemic accelerates the move to remote work, some interesting data on productivity is starting to show the impact of a remote-first approach on productivity rates. According to a Boston Consulting Group study, 75% of employees working remotely report maintaining or improving productivity on their individual tasks, with 51% saying the same about collaborative tasks. Another major study of 4700 knowledge workers found that remote work had a net positive effect on productivity, even after taking various home situations into consideration, such as the presence of another parent, the age and number of children, and other caregiving demands.

Deeper talent pool: In a remote-first environment, companies have access to a much larger talent pool. This can be crucial for targeting the most talented people in the field or those who may not otherwise be able to relocate. As more businesses embrace this structure and become mobile-first, cloud-native, and remote-first, more of these opportunities will present themselves.

Remote-first environments can help businesses find and hire qualified team members for top projects.

Many industries have a lack of qualified local resources, and remote management and workforces can help fill that void. When managed correctly, remote teams can tap into an expanded community of talented people.

This can be a crucial advantage in terms of attracting high performers and retaining quality staff.

Attracting & retaining talent: a remote-first structure is progressive organizational structure and an innovative platform for teams to perform while eliminating commuting time and transportation costs. Reducing or eliminating irritating obstacles to health and productivity in this way improves employees' outlook on work.

An increasing number of skilled workers see remote companies as more attractive places to work. According to a FlexJobs survey, 65% of respondents wanted to work remote full-time post-pandemic, with 31% wanting a hybrid remote work environment. If we add this up, that’s 96% who desire some form of remote work

Another study of 4,700 knowledge workers reported similar results, with the majority of those surveyed stating that they never want to go back to the old way of working.

Overall, just 12% reported that they want to return to full-time office work, with 72% keen on a hybrid remote-office model in the future. The main reasons for this are illustrated in the graphic below.

As you’ll notice, remote working appears to positively impact the work-life balance (+26) of those surveyed. It also leads to greater satisfaction with the working arrangement (+20) and reduces work-related stress and anxiety (+17).

Long-term flexibility:  A flexible company is a healthy company. In our modern economy, nothing is static — both for businesses and for consumers. The days of wondering how a company will grow or shrink are over. While brick-and-mortar may dominate many businesses' minds in the beginning, they can easily switch to a remote-first structure without worry of waste.

Why? Because it will allow them to scale back when needed and scale up when necessary.

Freedom and Work/life balance:: In the new remote-first era, work can flourish from wherever your employees want. For example, a company might want to allow employees to work from home in order to address child care or elder care issues. Or it might allow a sales team to travel to potential clients' locations instead of having to go to the office every day. Businesses that embrace this new freedom can become more flexible and in turn attract top talent.

This has become one of my personal favourites.😜

Now, more than ever, remote-working presents itself as a viable option for both small and large businesses. Technological advancements and social attitudes have shifted to where remote working is not only attainable, but may actually be the optimal way of working - provided your company is equipped with the best tools for optimal communication.

Intrepid Market; a community to list, buy, and sell on-demand technology and creative services for remote companies. In the spirit of the on-demand economy, we want to bring transparency and fluidity to the market. Our marketplace successfully connects remote companies with qualified professionals and agencies that are equipped to execute on any given project.

For remote company founders and leaders, sign up - its free

If you’re a design or development company, come sell on Intrepid - it’s free to list

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