Image Attibuted to Liquene
Are you considering starting and transitioning your company into a remote workforce? If so, this is the post for you. I’ll attempt to answer the following 3 questions that I often get regarding distributed companies:
- What are some of the challenges or hurdles I might face as a remote company?
- What technologies should I utilize in going global?
- And finally, how much money will I save as a remote company?
First off, it’s typically good practice to give people what they want. If you want a happy company then starting with happy employees is a good first step. This study from SodaHead shows that 70 percent of workers want to work from home. Why not give them what they want?
Being that the proverbial water cooler discussions are exponentially more complex, one needs to ensure that communication lines are agreed upon by everyone first. Ideally there would be prearranged meetings times however often you feel necessary, from daily scrums to weekly gatherings to monthly reviews. Also don’t forget differences in time zones as well as this can easily be overlooked.
Image Attibuted to Jeremy Levine Design
As far as software recommendations to ensure easy communication, Yammer is a good one to setup your own private social network. One that is a bit less intense is Hip Chat which allows for company discussions and group instant message, I’d say more or less like an upgraded Skype kind of communication if you are familiar. And another free alternative to Skype for free video chat (with great screen sharing) is Google Hangouts. G+ has done a great job here, it seems to be more stable quality and connection than others. There are also many great remote time tracking programs like we are building at Worksnaps that keep people on track, accountable, and allow for complete transparency for all involved.
Lastly related to communications, you might want to check out this Meetup for those people that work from home yet enjoy to connect and socialize with others.
Happy Employees = Profitable Business
At least it is common convention that happy workers lead to a more profitable business, although some still argue otherwise. Sometimes though it’s hard to really sense how happy people are with remote setups as you can’t see their happiness or lack thereof in person, in the real flesh and blood. Here is a great little happiness software that will both help measure and track your company’s happiness levels.
Also related to happy work from home people, typically employees can save 20 hours/week working from home before conflicts arise between work and home. Another benefit of allowing people to work from home, regardless of their happiness.
A remote or work from home (WFH) setup naturally saves a company money compared to a brick and mortar store because of lower overhead related to office space savings and other menial things like parking.
So just how much do remote companies save? Well, it depends on how much you pay and where you are setup but essentially the higher the wage and realty costs the more you’ll save. Here are some stats to take a face value. I recommend to project again based on your own environment:
- $2,400 a year by telecommuting just one day a week
- IBM saves $100M per year with a 42% remote workforce
- $4500 saved by employees by working from home, many in their PJs
- Businesses lose $600 billion a year in workplace distractions.
For contractors who work from home there can be a tax savings for these contractors related to writing out of the percentage of their house they use for their office.
Image Attibuted to Jason Lander
And for an example of large companies that are setup as remote entities essentially for tax savings (legal disclaimer: always talk with your tax guy) you should definitely read about how Apple does it. This is less about how it is physically setup and more just interesting on how business is done on a global scale with large tech companies.
Lastly, drive and commuting times are vastly reduced for remote teams. Don’t spend nearly as much time in traffic and on gas. Plus, it’s green to be a remote company and not add to more of those nasty fossil fuels.
So do you think a remote company is right for you? Have you already given it a shot? I would love to hear your comments below.