What are the advantages of remote-first working?
One of the most frequently claimed perks of adopting a remote-first work model approach is that it allows enterprises to reduce their physical footprint, which saves money. As a result, businesses, particularly larger ones, will not need to invest as much cash in office space as they would otherwise. Furthermore, startups may be able to reduce their remuneration policies if they hire distributed teams in places where the cost of living is lower.
A wider pool of candidates
Recruiters and recruiting managers have access to a significantly wider pool of possible candidates while working in a remote-first workplace than they would in a traditional setting. The ability to attract and keep high-performing full-time employees is a significant advantage in today's competitive environment. The latter is especially relevant for positions when there is a scarcity of skilled or reasonably priced local workers, such as some specialist information technology positions.
Improved quality of life
Employees who work from home frequently perceive an improvement in their overall attitude towards their jobs. The ability to minimize or remove commuting time and travel expenditures is an excellent illustration of how remote-first environments can improve the quality of work-life balance for the employees.
Using a remote-first approach, in general, allows a company to scale up and down without being hampered by the limitations of its physical area as much as it would otherwise. A rising company does not need to constantly expand its office space and equipment in order to keep up with the speed of its recruitment. Apart from that, businesses may more easily adjust to changing situations because they are not worried about squandering money on physical infrastructure.
In a similar vein, remote-first approaches are advantageous for business continuity planning since firms already have the resources and environment in place to achieve their objectives even when employees are unable to reach a central office or workspace.
How to make remote-first work
Asynchronous and clear communication
A remote-first firm should not feel significantly different from an office-based organization, but in order for this to happen, communication must be tailored to the virtual workspace. Everyone needs to know when things are happening and how to get involved. A significant portion of this relies on the use of asynchronous communication systems, like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Slack. By logging all discussions, it ensures that everyone has equal access to all conversations while also allowing them to access them at a time that is convenient for their agenda.
For the most part, remote-first businesses should work asynchronously, but it does not preclude them from scheduling time for synchronous communications as well. Particularly significant are video calls or conferences, which not only make it easier for remote colleagues to feel a connection but also help to prevent remote communication from becoming sterile and bureaucratic in nature.
One great tip is to record important video sessions. This ensures that everyone has access to them no matter if they are working from New York, San Francisco, Berlin, or Shanghai. Flexible work is the future of work thanks to the pandemic.
Governing with an asynchronous attitude allows remote teams the freedom to handle their work in the manner that they see fit, while without losing out on any important information or communications.
Support networks and team-building opportunities
When people work from home, they are unable to participate in the typical, healthy interpersonal interactions that take place in offices. Consequently, a successful remote culture must place a strong emphasis on virtual bonding and take initiatives to encourage positive interactions amongst employees.
Make every effort to provide as many opportunities for casual conversation as possible, including dedicated social channels for chatting, a calendar of team social events, and friendly contests, all of which help people form connections with people they do not generally work with on a daily basis.
All of this, of course, should be bolstered with actual face-to-face meetings with the participants once in a while. This gives essential emotional context for remote colleagues – from a person's sense of humor and character to the way they speak, which helps to improve connections and foster empathy. You are no longer just a name and a face on an icon when you work remotely, and it stimulates those nuanced interpersonal exchanges that will help people engage more successfully with one another later on.
Even if it is only once a year, bringing all of your employees together in the same room is a really effective team-building initiative that is well worth the time and money spent on infrastructure and preparation.
Trust and autonomy
Beyond all else, trust is essential for the development of a remote-first culture. Employees should be able to work when and where they want, on their own schedules, and on their own terms as controllers of their environment. Employees who feel like they are not trusted or are micromanaged by their team leader can swiftly see their company's culture deteriorate.
When trying to keep your remote team's work visible, avoid using intrusive employee monitoring technologies. Be mindful of the fact that not everyone is equipped to working remotely; as a result, when hiring, make certain that prospects are happy and comfortable working alone. In order to build trust, it is also necessary to treat people properly – and this may necessitate spending more time and effort to ensure that your employees' needs are addressed.
Trust, of course, is a two-way street. Remote-first environments cannot prosper unless employees have faith in their managers and they must also feel safe and supported in their work environments.
Success can only be achieved when people are confident in their ability to make mistakes. For this reason, clarity is essential - there should always be a digital paper trail for company strategy to ensure that everyone is kept up to date with the latest developments. It is possible to create an environment of distrust and suspicion when information is lost or misunderstood.
A focus on output and productivity, not time
Provide your remote staff with a degree of freedom when it comes to working hours. That is the crux of being able to work from home. Allow them to organize their work hours around personal hobbies or responsibilities such as childcare or fitness, as long as doing so does not interfere with their capacity to perform their professional tasks.
Allow your remote staff to take frequent breaks for relaxing and resting to keep them healthy and productive. Furthermore, keep in mind that some people find they are most productive in the early hours of the day, while others enjoy the solitude of the evenings and early mornings.
Consider the tasks completed and the results obtained rather than the number of hours worked to determine employee productivity. It should not matter what particular hours individuals work as long as they are performing their allocated responsibilities on time and are not neglecting essential meetings. Stay away from micromanaging your staff. Putting your trust in them to complete their tasks while allowing them to pick their own working hours will enhance their motivation and productivity.
A remote-first ethos needs to be collaborative
Most importantly, remember that cultivating a thriving remote-first ethos is not as simple as crossing a few items off your to-do list every day. A perpetual work in progress, it is something that demands ongoing cultivation, attention, and investment on the part of the business and every single employee and stakeholder.