People once scoffed at the idea of fully remote companies, but it is quickly becoming the new normal.
When we close our eyes and picture our dream working environment we might imagine open-plan offices and a friendly, hot-desking atmosphere. However, there are some entrepreneurs out there who see themselves with a remote business at home in their pyjamas.
Remote working has become one of the hot button issues of 2020. An abrupt introduction to it has forced many of us to examine our relationship with work and rethink how companies operate. Those entrepreneurs who have always envisioned seeing their enterprise come to life as a remote operation are likely feeling quite vindicated.
If you are aiming to start a fully remote business you need to ask yourself a lot of questions first. Yes, you’ll be saving bucket loads on rent and coffee – but what do you lose in return? Today we’ll explore what questions and concerns potential remote business owners should address before they put pen to paper.
How does this affect brand building?
Whether you love influencer culture or have sworn off social media entirely you can’t deny that a strong brand identity is essential to modern business.
Unfortunately, if you’re a remote company, a lot of your brand identity is going to be tied up in where you choose to do your work. You’ll be pegged as a remote company first, and whatever you do second. While this accommodates more tech-minded enterprises such as Articulate, you will need to decide before progressing whether it’s the right image for your company.
Brand identity is largely cultivated through personal content on social media. The best brands make heavy use of their team member’s personalities, social events and celebrations in the office. Visual content helps develop a brand and that’s hard to achieve when everyone is apart.
Not only is this a lesson in how important company social events are even when you’re all based at home – but one that teaches you to find creative workarounds to your environment.
Without people to lean on or a natural company culture, you’ll have to make your content and brand building more business-focused. That does have an audience on social media and in the press – but not to the same extent. Working remotely doesn’t mean settling for no brand identity, but it does require some more creative thinking.
Tools, tools and more tools!
If we’ve learned anything from months upon months of remote working it’s that digital tools keep modern businesses going.
The question of what tools to use and when is really a reflection of how you manage your business. Before you ask yourself whether you’re ready to start a fully remote business you need to be asking yourself if you have the right tools and know-how to use them.
Digital tools have been the most valuable players of this remote working period. Project management tools have helped managers keep track of how their teams are progressing through tasks. Video chat functions have given routine meetings life and provided space to replicate office chat. Task management software has kept standards high by giving staff unmissable tasks that clearly outline step-by-step instructions. Without these tools, many companies would have found it difficult to sustain their workload throughout lockdown. This is a lesson all aspiring remote business owners should take to heart.
Before you launch your business you need to identify the tools that are going to allow you and your team to work to the best of your abilities and make a quick impression. Digital tools aren’t just about productivity. They help colleagues build relationships and make onboarding new staff a much smoother process. If you don’t have an office for people to share ideas in, you need a digital space that fills that role.
Like all business investments, there will be trial and error involved with the digital tools you select and some of them will have to be replaced as your business grows. However, you should include them as a vital part of your business plan and progression outline in the same way you would upgrading an office space.
Does this suit your dream team?
Visualise your dream team. The enthusiastic HR rep. The analytical, patient workhorse. The creative visionary. Do these people want to be trapped at home 365 days a year?
Any good business owner understands modern landscapes. They are aware of the landscape of their industry. They know what niches are hot right now. And they know what the people working in that industry want out of their careers.
A fully remote working company is not the easiest sell for young, exceptionally talented people who can develop your business throughout the years. This type of person wants work to be as fun as it is fulfilling – valuing a friendly environment that helps reduce stress and pressure. You need to find a way to make an entirely remote situation devoid of usual company bonding fulfill that need.
Remote working is often praised for how it accommodates a modern work/life balance. While that’s true, it doesn’t quite chime with more social people who want to collaborate with their colleagues. Looking at remote working as a twice-a-week option or alternatives such as flex-time as the basis for your business may be a more attractive option.
A remote model might well be perfect for the kind of candidate you’re trying to attract. However, you need to be aware of what is popular and enticing in the job market at this time and make sure your company doesn’t become an outlier.
What if plans change?
Even when you’re set on a fully remote business there should always be the question lingering in the back of your mind: “what if plans change and we need an office?”
You might grow well beyond your expectations. You might decide winning clients and contracts is difficult to do without a meeting room. You might want to make it easier for your team to collaborate on ideas with a big creative space.
These are all realistic assumptions to make when you’re aiming for the stars with a new business. You should have (realistic) plans for success and factor in how long a constantly growing team looking to branch into new areas can do so remotely.
If that were to happen – how easily could you do it?
We’ve seen a number of different companies struggle to acclimatise to remote working throughout the coronavirus pandemic. In a normal situation could your company do the same, but in reverse? Would your team be able to uproot and move into office life and what kind of training would be required?
This is where familiarization with colleagues and the tools that help their workflow comes in, but it’s a genuine question business owners should always have a back-up plan for.
People once scoffed at the idea of fully remote companies, but it is quickly becoming the new normal. It’s a challenging way to operate with many more considerations than the four we’ve listed today. However, if you have a plan and patience it can be a fruitful and profitable way to run a business.