One of the most common and most respected mottos in the business world is, grow or die. Failing to scale your business means you could get risks lapped or even eaten up by hungrier, faster-growing competitors. The answer to the grow or die dilemma? It just might be remote work.
Done right, remote work can be a powerful way to scale your business. So how can remote work make this happen?
Let’s take a look.
Five Ways That Remote Work Can Help You Scale Your Business
1. Remote workers can be more efficient, and more loyal
Some micromanaging CEOs might blanch at the idea that employees can do more when working far away from the big boss’s prying eyes. But it’s true. The average worker in a centralized physical office puts in an average of just two hours and 53 minutes a day of actual work. Chatting casually with co-workers is one major and consistent time suck that keeps coming up in office environments; getting distracted from your own work by others chatting is another.
Freed from those distractions, remote workers have a golden opportunity to be more productive than their physical office counterparts. A study by Stanford professor Nicholas Bloom showed that many remote workers are indeed thriving, by comparison, taking shorter breaks during their workday, among other advantages. Meanwhile, remote work studies consistently show remote-friendly companies experiencing less turnover than more office-oriented firms.
There are few better ways to scale your business than to find more productive workers who are less likely to leave their jobs.
2. Remote workers can be less expensive to hire
Let’s say you’re a mid-sized software company based in Silicon Valley and you want to hire a bunch of engineers, sales people, and marketing people to work in your Menlo Park office. The people you want to hire have an almost infinite number of company headquarters they can choose to work from, all within a few miles’ drive of each other. That abundance of choice means that when it comes to salaries, those prospective hires can shoot for the moon (and probably get it).
Hiring remote workers can be a win-win situation for both your company and the workers you hire. If your company is based in a relatively expensive market and you hire remote workers who live in less expensive markets, you can often pay them less, without those remote workers having to sacrifice at all on their standard of living. Though we often think of South Asia as hot spots for remote worker hires, the reality is this out-of-market hiring practice can work anywhere, including coastal U.S. companies hiring remote workers in America’s heartland.
Moreover, by going beyond your company’s immediate zip code you can gain another advantage, discovering talented people who bring high skill levels to their job, but with a fresh perspective that comes from experiencing the world from a different place.
Hiring remote workers who are just as skilled as your local talent pool but less expensive can be a boon for any growing company hoping to scale its business.
3. Remote workers can allow you to save big on infrastructure costs
COVID-19 has had far-reaching effects on many elements of our society. People are being more cautious about their health and about distancing from others. Shopping habits have changed. People are even re-thinking where they want to live.
One of the most affected elements of our world could be that of commercial real estate. Renting space in a high-rent downtown high rise has always been something of a luxury to many small- and mid-sized companies. Now that gatherings risk endangering your employees, CEOs have time to sit back and reflect on whether shelling out big bucks for a centralized office is worth it at all.
Transitioning your office staff to remote work (and hiring new remote workers) can allow you to save lots of money on those expensive office rentals. It’s not just the cost of rent either. Companies pay for all kinds of equipment, furniture, and other sources of overhead that are made necessary in a centralized office. Imagine being able to plow all of that capital into product development instead. Don’t be surprised if more companies shift toward remote work — even after this global pandemic has faded into the background.
4. Shifting to remote forces you to focus more on company culture
You might think that working in a centralized office would have a positive effect in many ways. Employees being able to speak face to face simply by walking to the next cubicle over should be a net positive. But the problem with many office environments is that certain elements of a company’s operations can get taken for granted. And by extension, moving to remote work can force managers to be extra mindful about certain parts of the process.
Number one on that list: company culture. When we talk about culture, we’re referring to everything from the values held by both managers and workers within a company.
For instance, if your company values people getting to know each other beyond the boundaries of a work environment, making your weekly Monday morning meeting more about what people did over the weekend than the specific deliverables you need to meet in the week ahead is a way to build that kind of culture.
Without the advantages of a physical space where everyone’s working next to each other, a good manager will have to define company culture more overtly. That means not only talking about it but even codifying it in writing, arranging events such as company happy hours and catch-up meetings, and even organizing staff retreats from time to time.
While culture might seem like a somewhat vague and intangible factor when it comes to scaling your business, research has shown that companies with a cohesive culture can grow faster and achieve more pronounced success than companies that lack it.
5. Shifting to remote work forces you to focus more on company communication
Here too, you might think that companies operating out of one central space might have a leg up. As much as remote work has become an increasingly popular choice for small- and mid-sized businesses, some people believe that they communicate better when sitting face-to-face with a colleague or manager.
The good news is that communication technology has advanced by leaps and bounds in recent years. That means that extra mindful company leaders can build robust communication channels that give remote workers the opportunity to engage in ways that feel just as personal as sitting directly across from their co-workers.
On a basic level, you’ve got teleconferencing apps such as Zoom. These apps have exploded in popularity during the pandemic, making meetings and even simple check-ins fast, easy, and secure.
But forward-thinking companies can take communication efforts a step further. In hybrid work environments that maintain a central office but still rely heavily on remote workers, a physical conference room can be turned into a fully interactive, immersive studio. These immersive studios may contain multiple video screens that can shift and pivot on command so that everyone working remotely can interact freely and confidently with everyone in the central office.
Again, this is a case where extra mindfulness can lead to faster growth and success. When everyone in a company has no choice but to engage, the results can be both positive and significant. Yet another way that remote work can scale your business.
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About the author
Sharon Koifman is the CEO of DistantJob, a remote placement agency that provides remote worker staffing and best practices-based advisory services for companies seeking to improve and expand their remote work operations.