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Remote

Starting up remote first: A guide to setting up and managing remote teams

By February 7, 2020 March 18th, 2020 No Comments
best move forward

Setting up remote work culture in your office can go beyond just being an employee perk.

Gone are the days when remote employees were a supplement to the on-site workforce. With an increasing demand for tech talent, technology leaders are making a paradigm shift in their team structures. They are turning towards an approach known as the remote-first companies.

Remote is your best move forward

Tech startups have learnt it the hard way that setting up remotely was beneficial if not essential for them to make it forward.

Startups that sometimes just started off as a remote side project that turned to a fully remote model, or saw themselves working with distributed teams across the world for strategic reasons. For some others, forced by having little resources and a need for quick on-boarding of smart people from around the world, setting up remote became the logical choice.

GitHub with more than 60% of its employees working remotely, Stack Overflow is a great example of a remote first company. There are several other tech giants, who run distributed teams quite successfully.

What is a remote-first company?

Remote-first means that your default mode of working is remote. It’s quite different from a company that allows work-from-home. The remote-first company is built on the assumption that all the employees will work remotely. It strives to create an infrastructure for the remote working, and also a culture that supports the remote workforce.

A remote worker would always prefer a remote-first company over a remote-friendly one. The former means that engaging your remote employees won’t just be an afterthought.

How do you benefit from a remote approach?

A remote-first approach has several obvious benefits:

  • The remote-first approach can considerably save costs related to office space and amenities.
  • Remote-first companies can be much more inclusive in terms of hiring people with disabilities.
  • A remote workforce can bring a lot of diversity to the organization.
  • The productivity increases as the employees don’t have to commute to work every day. With congested traffic in the major cities, remote work can improve productivity substantially. (This has a flip-side. We will see later in the article)
  • The disruption work due to geological, weather, or social events will become a minimum.
  • Remote work might be able to provide better work-life balance for employees and result in high retention rates.
  • A distributed, remote team means you have teams working 24/7, which is much more efficient than having a team working from a particular city or office.

You can hire a lot better

There is an acute shortage of tech talent in the market. Compared to technology giants, startups and SMEs are more affected by this shortage. The remote-first approach is your best shot at addressing this tech-talent crunch. With the geographical restriction gone, remote-first companies will be able to tap into an enormous talent pool.

Being one versus inclusion

There is a significant difference in the culture of a remote-first company as opposed to a remote-friendly one. It stems from the fundamental fact that all your employees are remote and so the inclusion and engagement is not skewed or forced. Remote-first companies have robust work systems.

Establishing a remote-first company

While a remote-first company serves your long term interests the best, we wouldn’t say the way there is easy.

The dynamics of a remote-first company is totally different from an office-based organization. It might even be a bit more difficult to establish a truly remote-first company. Right from the mission statement, to infrastructure, from company culture to employee assessment – remote-first companies need a different approach.

But it is definitely worth the extra step.

Remote hiring and onboarding

To start a remote-first company, you first need to master the remote hiring process.
Of course, it includes hiring employees from across the globe.

You need to establish an efficient process to assess your remote candidate. Once you have a remote employee, the next consideration should be remote onboarding. Onboarding is a crucial step to ensure that your remote employees are well settled in the new organization.

Setting up a remote-friendly ecosystem

With a remote-first company, you don’t have to bother much about setting up an office space. However, you need to create an ecosystem that is conducive to remote work.

This includes establishing processes that support remote work – be it time tracking, project management, weekly meetings, reviews, one-on-ones. For a remote-first company, sticking to processes is crucial for efficiency. Tools are a big part of the ecosystem. The tools should be well defined and streamlined so that communication will not go missing on different platforms. Every employee should be synced to the systems for the remote-first company to run smoothly.

Setting up support systems and collaboration

For a remote-first company, collaboration and support are two crucial pillars.

It’s very easy for remote employees to feel like islands. Without proper support, they might find it difficult to belong to the company. Proper mentorship and team collaboration are key to establishing a remote-first company.

In normal office scenarios, the bonding happens almost automatically. But to establish a remote-first company with efficient teams, there needs to be intentional effort both from the management and the employees.

While it looks like a bit of work to establish and run a successful remote-first company, it’s well worth the effort. The entire tech world is slowly moving towards remote working strategies. You can look up to companies like Automattic, GitLab, and Toggl to see how they are running a successful business with remote teams.

If you want to hire cost-effective engineering talent and scale fast, CrewScale would love to help you out. We can help you hire vetted, professional and awesome remote tech talent.

Raghu Bharath

About Raghu Bharath

CEO by day, techie by night, Raghu is always ready to converse about technology, startups and how to make ideas go big.

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