5 Lessons Our Company Has Learned Since Going Remote
It’s been a year since my employer, Recruiterbox—an HR technology software startup that helps growing companies hire—joined the ranks of remote organizations, and man, have we learned a lot in that time. For the most part, it’s been a pretty easy adjustment for my team members and me. Between us, we’ve reclaimed hundreds of hours by not commuting, sold second vehicles that became unnecessary, and embraced the digital nomad lifestyle with the goal of going remote.
There were a few growing pains along the way, though.
If you’re considering going remote as an employer, below are five important points to keep in mind.
1. Process is paramount.
Physical separation means you need to define and document your process. Since your team can’t walk over to each other’s desks and show each other how something’s done, you need to create a manual or blueprint for the way your team will operate. A living document is ideal, so you can incorporate changes that reflect customer preferences, product changes, and contributions from new team members.
2. Communication is key.
A sense of belonging is fundamental to humanity—it’s even one of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. When you’re physically isolated from your team, fostering connection through communication is critical—even more so than in a traditional workplace.
Video calls are the next best thing to a face-to-face conversation when going remote. It’s so much easier to bond and open up to someone when you’re actually able to see them, as opposed to trying to interpret their thoughts and feelings through email or a voice-only call.
Messenger apps are another wonderful communication tool. More immediate and less cumbersome than email, they lend themselves to a casual rapport that resembles the day-to-day interactions of an office. Simple gestures like saying hello and goodbye, asking how your day is going and sharing pictures of cute kids help colleagues feel connected to each other and the organization.
3. Just because you can stay at home every day, doesn’t mean you should.
Video and messaging apps are a great stand-in for in-person interaction, but let’s face it: There’s really no substitute for the real thing. That’s why it’s important to leave home now and then—even for self-professed homebodies. Coworking spaces are amazing places to connect with others whose lifestyles and work may overlap with yours. But even just working in a coffee shop once a week or so can provide an extra shot of energy to recharge your mood and focus.
4. Make sure your workspace is ergonomically friendly.
Take it from a chiropractor’s wife who hasn’t practiced what her husband preaches: Hunching over your laptop in your kitchen chair can wreak havoc on your body. Fortunately, you don’t have to shell out for an Aeron chair or a treadmill desk to foster back and neck health. There are lots of affordable standing desk options on the market right now, including some that convert from sit to stand, and one that props up on an existing desk or table and is made out of cardboard. For the price of a few Jacksons, your spine will thank you.
5. Be like a yogi and practice flexibility.
If your team is remote, you’re most likely working across geographies and time zones, which requires a lot of flexibility. If you’ve got digital nomads on your team, they might share your time zone one day and be eight hours ahead of you the next. As a result, someone may have to shift hours to ensure coverage, or wake up early to take a call. Getting up at 5 a.m. for a meeting is probably no one’s idea of fun, but hey, at least you can do it in your pajamas.
Unless you’re fresh out of college and haven’t experienced any other type of work environment, going remote requires some significant adjustments on the part of both employers and employees. But considering the many benefits of going remote—savings on office space and supplies, increased employee retention, and higher productivity among them—these adjustments are well worth making. With some forethought and planning, you can set your remote team and business up for success.
Erin Engstrom is outreach manager at Recruiterbox, an applicant tracking system for small businesses. She’s glad that her time commuting for two-and-a-half hours a day is a thing of the past.
By Erin Engstrom | Categories: Why Go Remote