One of the main ways that the internet has changed the art of running your own business is the opportunity to hire a remote based workforce. With widespread connectivity, multiple project management and team collaboration platforms, and seamless video conferencing tools, there is little reason to take on the overhead of an office if your business is primarily run online.
In addition, advertising jobs that are remote based is a good way to hunt out talent. Workers are increasingly keen to have flexible employment setups, so you can often attract top individuals in your field by offering a remote opportunity with a reasonable salary. Indeed, with a remote company, there are entire parts of running a business you don’t have to think about: stocking and maintaining an office building, health and safety, mitigating office politics, and keeping track of when people show up to work and when they leave. As HR Aspects magazine noted: “The London School of Economics (LSE) produced a study that shows how attitudes among home workers are changing. The long-term effect of working from home is to normalise it to the extent that the differences between office-based and remote working are disappearing.”
While all these benefits are certainly valid, it would be wrong to suggest that running a remote company is a walk in the proverbial park. In the absence of a shared brick and mortar workspace, business owners have to be diligent in a different way. They must make sure employees are working hard at home, mitigate work disputes that play out in a more subtle manner over email, and ensure that there is some degree of inter-personal bonding that allows colleagues to work well together.
(h2) So if you are thinking about starting a company or transitioning an existing company to a remote-work style, here are some things to consider:
IRL Meetups: While the vast majority of your work can take place on a geographically distributed basis, it’s vital for company culture and morale to have occasional meetups. Studies show that people work better with those they’ve met in person, so even if it is quite an expense to fly your employees to one location to meet up once a year, it will likely be worth the cost. Encourage your employees who are located near one another to meet up too, and perhaps provide incentives for people who want to organize get togethers.
Think about cyber security: When everyone works in one place, it’s easier to make sure your servers and networks are secure. However, in a remote based company you open yourself to far more vulnerability and you must rely on your employees to be diligent about their cyber security practices. For this reason, you must think hard about what requirements and security habits you will require of your employees, and make sure that you enforce and have large penalties for those who do not follow them.
Keeping motivation in check: In a conventional office setting, it’s easy to see who is working hard and who is slacking off. This is considerably more difficult in a remote based setting. While you need to trust your employees enough to know that they don’t have to be in their chair from nine to five in order to be productive, you should also encourage a culture of transparency among employees who want to both commend other’s hard work and perhaps point out when someone might be struggling. Scheduling monthly “check-ins” over video conference or requiring weekly round up emails which detail what employees have accomplished is also a good idea.
Don’t let grievances fester: Even though you don’t have a traditional company, the HR aspect of a remote company should be robust. Conflicts are almost certain to arise among individuals, but since they play out remotely, these things can fester and get worse over time, rather than being dealt with out in the open. Make sure that you have a clear reporting process and conflict resolution procedure so that employees know where to go for help and support.
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