Two years into the pandemic and we’ve seen how it has dramatically changed the course of our day-to-day lives. Social distancing forced us to stay at home — and more so, work from home.
Remote work might be easy to do among established companies and businesses. But is it the same case with startups? It turns out there can be some advantages and disadvantages to remote work. Follow along.
How Remote Work is Better for Startups
Remote work setup is generally better for most employees. Here are some of the pros of working from home.
Working From Home Incurs Less Overhead Costs
The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about remote work is the absence of an office. This might be the biggest advantage. Because there’s no physical space, there’s no need to pay expensive office spaces, electricity, and maintenance dues.
Startups benefit from this work setup more than other businesses. Startups are generally tight on budget. So to help save up, it’s often a good idea to cut out on real estate.
The office is not the only thing you can eliminate to save money. With remote work, your employees don’t have to commute anymore. That saves you transportation allowances.
Since employees don’t have to go to the office, then you also don’t have to provide clothing and meal allowances. You can channel these allowances directly to your employees’ salaries.
Access To A Global Talent and Faster Hiring
Remote startups have access to a wide array of global talents. Since physical location is not an issue, the HR department can hire awesome people from different parts of the world.
This will pave way for a faster hiring process and even better-performing employees with diverse cultural backgrounds and time zones.
This addresses a major problem among startup companies— hiring. A startup should capitalize on expert people to ramp up the business. And this can be difficult when hiring is limited to the local area. How many expert web app developers are in one state? But if you expand the territory to, say continent-wide, then the talent pool has gotten significantly larger.
The best part about remote hiring? Competitive payment disparity. The salary you provide may not be competitive in your country. That with such an offer, you might only attract less experienced people.
But that same payment offer might be so competitive on the other side of the world. This way, you can hire better-performing people while still sticking to your salary budget.
Startups that deal with niche-specific services should rely on remote hiring. Calculating you in-house labor cost percentage will also indicate the benefit of hiring remote workers. Because the possibility of getting niche-specific-trained talent is very thin. But with remote hiring, you have faster access to thousands of labor resources.
Productive For Some, Distraction For Others
Productivity is a double-edged sword for startups who choose a remote work environment. Let’s talk about its advantages first.
For some people, remote work encourages more work done. With commuting to work not an issue anymore, people can sit on their desk earlier and leave it later too. This can lead to more tasks being finished and output submitted.
However, since there’s no office to dial in and focus on, people work at the same time doing household chores and attending to family duties. Because of this, people get tired and confused, leading to anxiety and damaged productivity. However, if companies use employees’ time tracking, then the issue will be sold, as they can monitor the productivity level.
This can be prevented if you properly communicate the duties and responsibilities involved in the job. There should also be enough time-allotment with assigned tasks. Also, it’s better if you foster good culture and communication among employees. To develop good contact with the employees, you can use employee engagement software, which enhances the team’s communication culture and motivation.
Collaboration is a lot easier on a remote work setup. Collaboration is a special recipe among startups. Google and a lot of the newer tech companies for the last decade have fostered collaboration as evident in their open-space plan and tech-friendly meetups.
Faster and More Efficient Collaboration
With the onset of the pandemic, a lot of old and newer businesses are forced to resort to remote working. And with it comes a new form of collaboration. Video conferencing skyrocketed and some platforms like Zoom and other Zoom alternatives became all the more relevant.
What’s good about this new wave of collaboration is that it’s faster and cheaper. In-face meetings and conferences require time to set up and money for food allowances, certificates, etc.
But with online zooms as the only tool to collaborate and some fast messaging software like Slack, there’s no need for all those.
If someone needs help, he or she can create a Zoom meeting link and everyone can jump right in fast. This leads to better collaboration than face-to-face setups. Not to mention, you have less fluff with online meetings. Facilitators are likelier to stick to the agenda with no space for camaraderie-building and icebreakers that you usually get on physical meetings.
How Remote Work Feels Challenging To Startups
Community Building and Fostering Work Relationships
Startups thrive on community and culture. It’s usually composed of a small group of people. To further a big goal with a small group, community building is vital.
But this can be incredibly difficult with a remote work setup. As easy as it is to communicate online, it’s also very easy to detach online. Online relationships are not as strong as physical relationships. Hence, community building poses the biggest challenge for startups who choose a work-from-home setup.
Community building is all those water break moments, small and shallow conversations about the weather, the constant after-work dinner and drinks. Culture is also built around all work and personal meetings and collaboration. This is something that remote work is not designed for.
Sure some startups can work on community building online. But it has its limits. You cannot achieve the same depth of relationship you build with an office-based environment.
This is particularly dangerous for startups since their talents are their vital resource. And with less tight working relationships, people tend to stay less longer. In fact, most people stay longer at work not because of the job itself but because of the camaraderie built outside of work.
Remote work paved the way for faster work productivity, lesser costs but an overall low retention rate due to the ease of leaving the job.
So what should be done?
Most startup owners agree that remote working is meant to stay. The pandemic has allowed companies to see the bright side of working at home. And indeed there’s a whole lot of benefits both to companies and to employees that previously haven’t been considered when in-office work was the norm.
Now that companies are opening up the possibility of remote work, it’s also right to visit some disadvantages of such a setup. Community and culture building is something that you should address when incorporating a work-from-home arrangement.
The solution? Hybrid work setup. It’s a combination of remote and office work. For instance, you’ll only require people to be in the office two to three days a week. Depending on your strategy, hybrid work addresses the need for face-to-face interaction while also diminishing the cost of being in the office 7 days a week.
Another thing that should be done on a remote-work startup is to have a definitive onboarding process. Often some employees stay at the company for long because they understand the main reason why they stay. Also, they feel in line with the goal of the company. They not only are aware of the company mission and values, but they also feel the need to practice them at work.
So a better way for new hires to remain intact with the company is to let them know the goals of the company and make sure that it addresses their personal goals. Let them understand the value of their position and how it will help the company further its goals.
Even if you don’t want it, remote work is here to stay. So it’s up to how you will manage a remote work setup that will determine the success of your startup.
As soon as you choose a remote work set up as part of your strategy, everything will change, from the way you design your logo to how you manage the marketing, from how you onboard new employees to how you build connections with them.
This new normal could be for the better or for the worse, but as we found, there are more advantages than disadvantages in remote work.
Remote work is generally perceived positively. Most people love this new setup. How come not. They can work anywhere they want, sometimes even at whatever time. No commute, no outfits, no preparation of any kind that we all are used to in an office-based work environment.
Marvin Espino is a writer from the Philippines. A marketing specialist from DesignCrowd and BrandCrowd, he has written several pieces on branding, marketing, and design. When not working, Marvin hoards well-written short pieces of writing. He’s also an avid fan of baking and singing.