Is remote work an opportunity or a threat?

How to make remote work work. We share our experience and offer some practical advice to help you find remote work success.

Remote work is still a hot trend, but will it last? Can people really be trusted to perform at a high level while traveling the world?

In past articles, we’ve shared how to manage remote workers and what it’s really like to work remotely, but we haven’t talked much about why we choose remote work at The Remote Company.

Our COO, Ilma, recently gave a presentation entitled Remote Team: Opportunity or Threat? where she broke down the benefits and risks of remote work. Here are the highlights of her talk.

Watch Ilma's entire presentation on Facebook.

Remote Team: Opportunity or Threat?

5 reasons why remote work is an opportunity

The list of amazing benefits from remote work seems to keep growing. From improved productivity and employee retention to cost savings and happier employees, remote work has a lot to offer.

When you take a step back from all of these benefits, there are a few fundamental reasons why remote work can be an opportunity for your business.

1. The most talented people in the world don’t live in one place.

Finding the right people in your geographic area can be tough. If you operate far away from a city, there is a lack of talent. If your offices are in a major hub, the competition is more intense and talent costs are high. Remote work breaks down these barriers by opening the talent pool to the entire globe.

2. The best place to live depends on who you are and what you like.

Some people love to ski. Others feel at home near the beach. Remote work allows people to live where they feel happiest. We have people that live in the Alps to ski and in Costa Rica to surf. That is a perk a traditional office could never provide.

3. Modern offices have become interruption factories.

Should you have an open space or private offices? The answer is, ‘it probably doesn’t matter’. You are never going to completely prevent the interruptions and distractions that come with housing everyone under one roof.

4. People are more productive working in their own environment.

When you can choose your own workspace, you're likely to get more done. 77% of remote workers are more productive when working outside the company’s office. Why? Because everyone requires different conditions to be at their best.

5. Remote work can provide a global employee network across time zones.

Something special happens when you have people from all over the globe working together. We learn about new cultures and places. And when you span multiple time zones, you can serve your customers 24/7! 

When remote work becomes a threat

The biggest hesitation for people to avoid remote work is a perceived lack of control, which ultimately boils down to a lack of trust.

Great managers are not babysitters. The best managers try to empower employees and trust that they will perform.

Remote work is naturally empowering because you are telling your team, “I trust you even though I can’t see you working.”

That said, there are also poor-performing employees. Remote work is not for everyone. 

The key to developing a thriving remote culture that is built on trust starts with finding the right people and setting the right expectations.

How we found remote work success

While there is certainly no formula for guaranteed success, we identified these three areas that have led to our positive remote work culture:

  1. Hire competent people that are impact-driven.

  2. Set clear expectations by establishing your values.

  3. Experience the ups and downs together.

Let’s go deeper into each one of these areas to give you a better understanding of what can help you achieve remote work success.

MailerLite - A girl sitting on the sofa with laptop working remotely

Hire competent people that are impact-driven

There are two overarching qualities that make a great remote employee — competence for the role and a desire to make an impact.

Competent employees are specialists who are experts in their field. You don’t have much time for training or hand-holding with a remote team. The best remote candidates will have proven success in past roles.

Impact-driven employees are self-motivated to work beyond their assignments. Some days are busier than others. The people that want to make an impact find other things to work on during down times that will help the company.

We’ve found that high-performing remote workers usually share these other characteristics:

  1. Problem Solver: They don’t need a lot of support to get their work done. When there is a problem, they do their best to solve it before bringing in additional resources.

  2. Self Manager: Remote workers have tasks and goals, but they rarely have someone prioritizing their workload for the week. They need to manage their own work.

  3. Positive Attitude: Like any job, there are ups and downs, miscommunications and stressful situations. A positive attitude is essential to navigate these issues when you are alone, away from the office.

  4. Intrinsically Motivated: People must be passionate about the company, its values, and vision. Everyone is motivated by something bigger than themselves.

  5. Worked Remotely Before: The best and easiest way to determine if a candidate has the right characteristics is to find someone with previous success in a remote team.

Set clear expectations by establishing your values

Every employee needs clear goals and success metrics to perform at a high level. But for our remote team, we found that setting clear expectations goes beyond goals. It's about everyone aligning with our company values.

When our team clearly understands the core values and puts them into practice, we work together in a more cohesive way.

If you are considering a remote team, start by reevaluating your company values. Do they unite the team around a core philosophy and approach to working?

Here are the values we established for The Remote Company that have helped nurture our remote culture and set the right expectations for success.

  • Deliver WOW through customer support

  • Be passionate about our products

  • Focus on the long-term goals

  • Simplify

  • Pay attention to the details

  • Treat people right

  • Be positive

  • Stay in the best shape

  • Be efficient

  • Embrace remote culture

Read about our values in more detail here.

Why you need company values.

Experience both the fun and the challenging times together

We have talked about our workations in the past. Twice a year the team comes together in one location to share unique experiences, work together and set new goals for the coming months.

Three The Remote Company employees are sitting on the ground, working remotely in the nature with the laptop in front of them.

Workations are extremely fun and memorable. But what about the bad times? 

Like any company, we have gone through some tough challenges. It's during these times when you really see what your team is made of.

Last year we had a major issue, and it was amazing to see how the whole team responded. Even though it was a difficult time, everyone gave similar feedback when it was over. 

They were happy that they survived as a team. It brought us all together. In the end, there were lessons to learn but we were stronger.

Remote work is an opportunity for us

We love remote work. We are still learning and continue to evolve to make it even better. We could not imagine where we would be without the benefits of remote work.

But it is not for everyone. It's important to first understand what it takes to create the right environment before your remote team can be successful.

What is your experience with remote? Please tell us your stories or give us some feedback in the comments below.

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