Young Upstarts

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How To Transition Your Business Into A Remote Company

By now, you’ve probably already heard about the rise of remote working. Digital nomads now have a slew of resources at their hand, from an influx in coworking spaces to new technology designed to accommodate the mobile workforce. And there are plenty of benefits of working remotely: studies have shown that it can improve productivity and creativity, and today’s workforce is attracted to autonomy and flexibility.

From a business standpoint, remote work can also save you plenty of money. Without office and overhead costs, you can put more cash into growing your business. For instance, IBM was able to save a whopping $100 million in one year when they launched their remote work program.

Ideally, you would launch a business as a remote company. But this isn’t always the case — particularly for businesses born before the remote work boom. Here are some tips on transitioning to a remote company:

Start Slow.

If you currently rent (or own) a commercial space, your end goal is to transition out of that space. And of course, there are plenty of reasons why ditching your brick-and-mortar location will be beneficial to you. Not only will it cut costs dramatically, but it will also reduce commute times for everyone and free you from the management constraints of running an office or property on a day-to-day basis.

But this typically cannot happen overnight. Start by talking to your staff about your mission to begin allowing remote work. Instead of starting right away, have your team spend 2-3 days out of the week working remotely, giving you ample time to get your affairs in order. If you own your brick and mortar space and don’t want to sell it just yet, consider renting it out to other businesses to bring in that extra income.

Build Remote Teams.

Every business approaches their remote work philosophy differently. There are some businesses who benefit greatly from having an on-site staff. However, you can break your own remote program into pieces by keeping some members of the team in-house and building smart work-from-home teams. For instance, customer service is one area that many businesses choose to outsource to help them cast a wider net and better service their clients and customers. It also allows companies to work with a much bigger, diverse talent pool.

Make Traveling Easy.

Remote staff may be more likely to travel, and you should make this process as seamless as possible. For example, with corporate travel services, management can benefit from total end-to-end control over the booking process. This is especially useful for remote staff that consistently travel to meet clients and businesses that offer travel incentives. Furthermore, maintaining a personal connection with other employees on a remote team can be tough—a yearly work retreat allows everyone to curb distance and supplement digital avatars with in-person facial recognition.

Maintain a High Level of Transparency.

Building a great work culture as a remote team is a little more complex; transparency is one of the best ways to ensure the entire team is informed, no matter where they sit on the totem pole. Some companies, like the remote-only Buffer team, have radical transparency, which means everything—from employee salaries to company revenue to equity breakdown—is publicly available.

While you don’t have to make everything in your business totally transparent to the public, internal transparency will go a long way towards building a remote staff that trusts you. For example, Scott Berkun, who wrote the book “The Year Without Pants,” described how his remote staff used a discussion platform to ensure discussions and decisions were available internally. No matter who you are or how long you’ve been at the company, you should have open access to learning about how decisions were made and why.

Develop a System.

Without your team at your fingertips, you need a system to ensure the ship continues to sail smoothly. For example, you should have weekly meetings with your stay to stay abreast on project updates, concerns, progress, and various other tidbits. Try out a handful of collaborative project management tools and messaging systems to learn more about what works best for you. You can even find a mail-scanning provider who will digitize your mail and send it to the appropriate people.

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Young Upstarts is a business and technology blog that champions new ideas, innovation and entrepreneurship. It focuses on highlighting young people and small businesses, celebrating their vision and role in changing the world with their ideas, products and services.

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