by Anton Mishchenko
When you hear the phrase “remote team”, you may think of companies that have a centralized office and offshore teams. You may also think of firms that have switched from being colocated to a remote collaboration model.
But what if a business has been virtual since day one? Yes, such companies exist. Such firms never had an office and entered the market as remote-first businesses. Moreover, their team members are often distributed across different time zones. So if you’re thinking of going remote or starting a virtual company from scratch, you should definitely consider the experience of these companies.
In this article, we will talk about the advantages and drawbacks of remote-first businesses as well as provide some tips on managing remote teams. We hope that this material will help you make the right decision.
If properly managed, a remote-first business is very likely to bring its founders lots of benefits such as:
Access to a wide tech talent tool
Let’s face it, the United States and Western Europe are suffering from a lack of tech talent resources. That’s why many of them resort to outsourcing. Deloitte’s Global Outsourcing Survey states that 72% of companies prefer outsourced software development over in-house development. However, outsourcing is a better option for established companies that have been on the market for quite a long time and are not remote-first. Being remote-first will allow you to tap into the world’s tech talent pool straight ahead. As a result, it will take you less time to build a virtual team than to establish an office and then outsource the tech talent.
Remote Teams are Cost-effective
Members of a co-located team typically receive salaries that match the cost of living in the place where they are based. If both you and your team are based in the US, they will receive US salaries, which can be over $100 per hour. If some of your team members are based in Asia or Eastern Europe, their salaries can be less than $50 per hour. It means that you can save up to 50% on salaries. Moreover, you will not have to pay office rent or cover any relocation and travel expenses.
Remote working increases productivity
When working in an office, people often get distracted by colleagues or noise. They can also spend lots of time and emotional energy on commuting to work, especially if they live far away from the office. Working from home or the nearest coworking space makes employees more productive and saves them lots of time and effort, which they can dedicate to work.
Scaling product teams remotely is a challenging task, be aware of possible pitfalls such as:
#1: Communication issues: Communication between team members means trust and trust means a successful business. When working in an office, people communicate with each other naturally, without extra effort (well, in most cases). It means that the culture in colocated teams is built automatically. For example, the employees can invent their own funny memes during a meeting or engage in small talk near the water cooler. When managing a global team remotely, the leaders need to apply extra effort in order to improve communication and build culture. It may become a challenge, especially with people from different countries and across several time zones.
#2: Trust issues: It is harder to control the productivity of remote workers than of in-house ones. But you can solve this issue with time tracking, video conferencing, and project management tools built specially for remote teams. These tools can help you organize regular check-up calls where the participants can report their progress. You can also complement those calls with one-on-one meetings where you can privately talk with each member of the team that you manage.
#3: Time zone management issues: In addition to communication efforts, working with distributed teams requires time zone management skills. In other words, virtual team management must find an overlap between time zones when all team members are online and hold virtual meetings during that time period. They must also embrace asynchronous communication, i.e. find a way to exchange important data at a time that is convenient for each team member, independently of each other. Luckily, now the market is full of special tools for time zone management that consider the specifics of remote collaboration.
#4: The Bottom Line
Managing remote teams is both exciting and difficult. Exciting because it’s a totally new, modern format of leading global teams that, if tapped into correctly, can bring lots of benefits and save costs. Difficult because you need to apply extra effort to improving communication, building trust and managing a team across different time zones. It’s up to you to choose if you are ready to embrace the remote-first business. If yes, then let us admire your courage and wish you good luck!
Photo Credit: Benjamin Sloth Lindgreen, Unsplash