If you're considering building a fully remote business, you've probably weighed all your logistical options.
You're embracing the competitive advantage a remote workplace can offer. But you'll need to approach things with an eye toward scalability. With that in mind, here are four essential considerations.
1. Potential customer experience gaps
Put yourself in your customers' shoes. Sure, your team of developers, marketers, and floating executives might be adept at operating in a remote environment. You don't need to be in the same time zone to get work done, let alone an office with unnecessary overhead.
But what might your customers need? Remote work conversations often center around internal team efficiency, but it's important to account for customer experience. Ask yourself:
- What will our travel expenses look like?
- Should we consider renting commercial space(s) for meetings?
- Are we prepared to handle user experience issues remotely?
There are middle grounds, but you need to determine what's appropriate for your customers and your in-house people. Consider how you'll scale answers to each of the above questions, and if remote operations will be conducive to customer expansion.
2. Remote management needs
There's a perception that remote teams don't demand the same level of chemistry. And while it's true that collaboration looks different over Slack or a Miro board, remote businesses still need to prioritize balance.
Consider the behavioral drives of your team members and how those might play out as remote work tendencies. If you have a team of highly independent, autonomous developers, your managerial style should give them space while still steering the ship toward its broader goals.
Different personalities will take to full-time remote work at varying speeds. Make sure your leadership, lean as it may be, accounts for all your people's different needs.
3. Guidelines for communications and working hours
Many businesses are currently trying to find their sweet spot. They've operated out of an office for years, maybe with a handful of remote workers. But Covid-19 forced them to acknowledge remote work is here to stay, as noted in a recent CNBC series. The question becomes: in what form?
"The appropriate balance really depends on the nature of the company," says Mike Zani, CEO at The Predictive Index, a leading talent optimization company. "Some companies can be completely untethered--companies that don't 'make' things, or that do things like we do: make software."
There's a certain amount of flexibility inherent in remote work, but your culture will dictate rules like:
- Default mediums for internal communications
- Expectations for online working hours and response times
- Time off and out-of-office protocol
Getting everyone on the same page early is critical to smooth remote operations. "If that means over-communicating in the early stages, that's OK," adds Zani.
4. Revised recruiting practices
You may not be thinking about recruiting yet. But you will be eventually. And when that time comes, you'll need:
- An efficient remote interview process
- A robust virtual onboarding program
- Troubleshooting protocols for IT and HR
The success of your recruiting and onboarding hinges largely on cultural fit. Recruit people into positions that suit their strengths and give them support by managers who understand how to bring out the strengths in their people.
Rather than a second video interview, maybe you give candidates three hours to perform a sample project reflective of the remote job. Couple that with a behavioral assessment, and the process accounts for much more than the résumé.
In closing, building out a fully remote team is arguably easier now than ever before. And it's in many ways preferable to transitioning to or from an office environment.
As long as you find people with the right combination of briefcase and behaviors, your geographically unshackled operations can be as robust--or more--than those of your competitors.