Make the most of Remote Work in Your Startup

The remote work trend is continuing to grow alongside advances in technology and changing employee preferences. Technology makes connecting with a remote employee on the other side of the world a simple process, and now a full 52% of employees work remotely at least once a week, a number that has increased in recent years.

This shift to remote work likely represents a larger shift in preferences in the workplace. Employees working in the same office often even prefer to connect through team communication software rather than in person, reflecting a shift to virtual communication that has largely become the norm in the modern workplace.

Remote Employees in Startups

As remote work grows in popularity, companies, and particularly startups, are left wondering how they can make the most of this trend. Apart from the numerous benefits of remote work (discussed below), companies may need to consider remote work in order to retain their top talent. As Gallup International reports in their “State of the American Workplace” report, 35% of American employees say that they would leave their current job for one offering an option for full-time remote work.

On the one hand employees are increasingly embracing the idea of working remotely, on the other hand businesses themselves are coming to see the numerous benefits to this trend. This is especially true for startups, as they often need a more flexible approach to their talent needs and are rightfully concerned with potential cost savings.

Startups are dynamic businesses that must be adaptive enough to react accordingly to changing circumstances. One way startups can develop this adaptability is by employing remote employees. Remote employees can be hired from anywhere in the world, and often bring different valuable perspectives and experience to a startup, helping startups avoid groupthink.

Apart from helping with overall adaptability, remote employees can give your startup the edge you need through a range of other benefits.

The Benefits

Access to Worldwide Talent - startups thrive on finding the right talent to grow and develop the business. Perhaps the biggest benefit of working with remote employees is the access it gives you to a wider talent pool than that available locally. When relying only on your local labor market to hire employees you’re limiting yourself, and if you’re in a high demand labor market you could be facing increased competition (and costs!).

Costs savings - remote employees can bring significant benefits to your startup’s bottom line, allowing you to focus your precious financial resources in other areas. The most obvious savings come from lower overhead costs in terms of office space and related utilities. Remote employees also remove the necessity of commuting expenses, often covered by businesses themselves.

Flexibility - the flexible nature of your startup should be reflected in your remote work policy. Employees enjoy flexibility and value it above many other perks, particularly employees in startups. The ability to work from their preferred location is a huge benefit in this regard, allowing for more employee control over their schedules and higher satisfaction levels. Even just allowing for part time remote work can be a huge advantage in this regard.

Employee Motivation - an increasing amount of employees report remote or flexible working as one of the top work perks. Providing your startup employees with a more flexible work regime (reflecting the flexibility inherent in the startup phase of your business) can increase their overall motivation. Working with completely remote employees will also help you ensure that your team is eager to work.

Understanding the benefits of utilizing remote employees is the beginning, but in order to do so there are several tips and best practices you should follow.

How to Manage Remote employees

Taking advantage of remote employees for your startup is becoming an ever easier process. There are now numerous tools and best practices you can use to find, hire and manage remote employees. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t potential risks involved with remote employees, but by creating and following a well thought out hiring and management plan you’ll be able to avoid the main pitfalls.

Find and hire the right employees

The first step in the process of working with remote employees in your startup is, logically, finding and hiring the right talent. Given the nature of remote working you’ll luckily be able to access a worldwide talent pool, making your search easier if you know how to look.

Ideally, your approach to finding the right talent should be a combination of looking in your local labor market, as well as tapping into the global market. In this way you create a broader search and avoid any limitations in your area. When conducting your search, make sure to prominently advertise the remote working aspect of the position, particularly in the local market, as it can act as an enticing perk for potential employees.

There are many websites that can help in the search for remote workers, so take advantage of some of your favorites!

Provide the right communication infrastructure

Communication is of course key, and never more so than when working with remote employees. The dispersed nature of working remotely means that the physical interactions that many businesses rely on are no longer possible. That’s why it’s crucial to give your team the tools necessary to keep in touch.

Instant Messaging is one of the best options in this regard, as it can provide your team with an all in one package of communication and collaboration features. These features can create an online collaborative space that can help your team stay connected and efficiently working together regardless of their location.

Of course choosing the right tool for your team is important, and not every tool will be welcomed with open arms by your team. Take the time to discuss with your team what types of features and functionality they would most benefit from. In this way you’ll ensure you choose one that will boost collaboration and communication.

Manage your remote employees

Managing remote employees can be a challenge if not properly planned for. The lack of physical proximity removes the possibility for direct oversight and in-person interactions, which can be off-putting for many managers. This could be a particular challenge for your startup, since much of the innovation and great ideas that you’ll surely depend on grow through this type of in-person interaction.

These challenges do not mean, however, that remote employees are inherently difficult to manage. As a beginning, it’s important to establish regular check-in and team meetings with your remote employees. Having these regular face-time events can help establish a work routine that will give your employees a much needed feeling of structure.

It’s also important to encourage remote employees to share any concerns or issues they have in these meetings. This will help deal with problems as they arise, and demonstrate that you care about your remote employees. It’s not only about problems though, so make sure to set aside time for celebration and talking about what’s exciting your employees in their work at the moment!

Like any employees, it’s crucial to set clear goals and expectations with your remote employees. In the startup phase of your business, when employees will likely be covering multiple work-streams, it can be difficult to clearly outline exactly what an employee is responsible for. This will likely be an ongoing process, but one that can help give both you and your employees a clearer vision of your startup’s overall work.

In Conclusion

The remote work trend is forecast to continue to grow alongside technological advances that make it easier for team members to connect and collaborate from around the world. To gain a competitive advantage, your startup can tap into this trend in order to better motivate employees and take advantage of the global talent pool.

By structuring the remote work process you’ll be well positioned to make this trend work to your startup’s advantage!

Read next: Creating a Value Proposition That Competes With Billion Dollar Businesses (infographic)

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