Remote Working: Pros and Cons of Having a Remote Team
COVID-19 kicked our asses.
It took away our normality and it has shifted how we live our lives and do business.
Yes, we were already moving towards remote working. However, the pandemic rushed the process and pushed many people to work from home without being ready for it.
Today, we are shifting again.
Some businesses are figuring out how to transition back to working at their fancy offices in Silicon Valley, while others have decided to keep working remotely.
If you are struggling to decide whether or not you should have a remote team, this article is for you.
I’ll go over the pros and cons of having a remote team and give you a few strategies to manage your team like a pro, deal with isolation and boost your productivity.
Remote Working VS Working From Home
Before I get into the nitty-gritty of working remotely, I want to make this distinction crystal clear:
Remote working is not the same as working from home.
It’s easy to mix them up.
After all, your employees will be working from a computer in the comfort of their own homes, right?
Well, not quite.
You see, while in both scenarios you won’t see them working in your headquarters, there are substantial differences between the two.
For starters, working from home is more of a temporary setting rather than a permanent one. It’s what your employees might do once in a while when they need a break from the office or when they want to skip their commute for a change.
Its effectiveness lies in the change of environment and the possibility of engaging in deep work without having a coworker popping in to chat.
However, your employees still have to come to the office at some point.
On the other hand, remote working means your employee works anywhere other than the office regularly.
This also includes having part of your team living in other cities, countries, and even continents. As you can imagine, this working model doesn’t contemplate face-to-face meetings or office gatherings.
Remote working has its perks but it also brings huge challenges.
Pros Of Remote Working
Both your business and your employees enjoy perks when you work remotely. Not only will your employees’ satisfaction increase, but your business can save money and have some simplified processes. Let’s dig into some of the pros of remote working.
1. Empower serious individuals
People who work well remotely find it rewarding to have more autonomy over their time. It allows them to make more decisions over how and when they work, and an increased sense of responsibility comes with that.
It’s also easier for them to engage with deep work since no co-workers pop by to chit-chat or to discuss work issues at a time when you are trying to do your best work.
Serious remote workers often feel empowered when they feel they are trusted with their work and rarely being checked up upon.
It’s a great confidence booster as well.
So how can you get to this point with your remote team?
I believe it’s all about finding kick-ass professionals who are damn good at their jobs and that prove to be reliable. You can always hire someone on a trial period and see how they integrate into your team.
Then, you scale up from there.
2. Gain greater flexibility
Another perk of remote working is having flexibility around your schedule. When you allow your team to work at the time of the day when they are at their best, they’ll produce badass work more consistently.
This is great for people who are night owls rather than early birds. No more waking up at 6 AM to go to a meeting that isn’t even relevant for them.
It’s also the perfect setting whenever you need to attend a doctor’s appointment during the day or when they want to attend their child’s spelling bee contest. It gives them a sense of freedom and control over their lives they wouldn’t have otherwise.
Plus, it takes away the awkward ask-the-boss-for-permission talk.
Independent remote workers can set their own workflow and still deliver exceptional results while increasing their satisfaction.
3. Work from anywhere
Did you ever dream of living the laptop lifestyle and working from anywhere in the world? Have you imagined yourself in a little cabin in the mountains or sipping a piña colada on a sunny beach in Mexico?
Remote working is the gateway that many people look for to satiate their wanderlust.
All they need is a laptop and a reliable internet connection.
But is this an adventurer-only perk?
Not at all.
It’s also a great way to avoid moving to big cities in search of a better opportunity. Remote workers can stay close to their families and steer clear from the city rush while working for big corporations.
4. Save money
Working from the comfort of your own home cuts down your gas and food expenses. Hell, it can even reduce how much money you spend on a professional wardrobe.
Why spend thousands of dollars on expensive business clothing for each day of the week when you can work in your pajamas?
No judgment here.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t have at least a couple of good suits in case you need to meet with a client. But there’s no need to show up at the office with a different attire every day.
Now, savings don’t only come as a perk for you or your employees.
You can also save your business a shitload of money from renting offices, paying for onsite services, and catering to your employees’ needs.
This is one of the biggest perks of remote working for your business.
5. Say goodbye to commute
Is there anything more fucking stressful than commuting to your job?
Sure, if you live in a smaller city with zero traffic, this might not be a huge issue. For the rest of us, sitting long hours in traffic can increase our stress levels and get us in a bad mood.
That’s no way to start a successful working day.
Isn’t it better if your employees used that extra hour to work instead of fighting someone who cut them off in traffic?
Not to mention the risk of them having an accident during their commute.
I’ve met one too many remote workers who perceive not having to commute as one of the greatest benefits of not working at the office.
6. Payments are easier
Source: UX Collective
There’s nothing easier than paying your remote employees.
For once, many of your remote workers are most likely contractors, so this simplifies your tax reports.
Make sure that your contractors issue you an invoice that you can pay via PayPal or Stripe, which only takes a couple of minutes and your credit card.
If you do have employees on your payroll, your best bet is to use an automation tool that sends out payments each month automatically.
I recommend using Quickbooks payroll, especially if you are using their accounting software, which will only make your process flow seamlessly.
7. Increase employee satisfaction
The pros that I’ve listed so far should have given you a hint.
Studies have shown that remote workers report higher work satisfaction when working remotely.
This lies in the greater flexibility, the boosted confidence in their abilities, and the autonomy and control they have over their own lives.
Having the ability to manage their own time and work comfortably without office-related stress and distractions also improve your employees’ satisfaction.
Why should you give a damn about that?
Well, first of all, because your team is what will make or break your company.
Not only that, but happier people work harder than those who are unhappy. This leads to improved performance and possibly an increase in individual productivity.
Sounds good, right?
Cons Of Remote Working
Although there are many perks of remote working, not everything is rainbows and unicorns. There are gargantuan challenges that come with managing a completely remote team. Let’s take a look at what is fucked up about managing a remote team.
1. Lack of engagement
This might be the worst nightmare of any CEO.
Sure, you’ve put a lot of effort into finding and hiring the most talented people you could find. But they lack commitment and a sense of belonging to your company.
For remote workers, it’s harder to develop relationships within their team.
Sometimes they only meet the person they’ll report to before being thrown to work with people they don’t trust, know or understand.
You also can’t just pop by to their cubicle to ask for critical information or to check up on the status of a project. Moreover, your employee might be struggling with something that you have no idea about, leading to miscommunication and a lack of mutual understanding.
This lack of engagement can be difficult to tackle when there are no face-to-face interactions and it can lead to projects stalling or being abandoned.
2. Communication can be an issue
Have you ever found that you can’t get in touch with someone you urgently need?
Isn’t it infuriating?
Communicating with a remote team can get tricky, especially when you want to get a hold of someone who is 12 hours ahead of you in time.
This issue is only aggravated by unreliable people who might suddenly disappear and leave no trace behind leaving you stranded.
But that’s only the worst-case scenario.
You also have to keep an eye out for misread cues on electronic communications.
It’s well-known that we pick up on the intention of a message when we are talking face-to-face with someone. Without non-verbal communication, people can make up a whole different story in their heads than what is happening.
That’s why you must convey your message clearly and effectively so that your collaboration isn’t limited by the lack of real-life encounters.
3. Life-work balance is hard
If you are anything like me, you know it’s hella hard to disconnect from work.
Let’s face it.
It’s hard for people who work at offices, so why would it be easier for someone who lives and works at the same place?
You and your team might find yourselves working around the clock, not following a routine, and forgetting to have a personal life.
It’s harder to relax when your living room also functions as your home office.
Not only that, but it can also backfire and have your employees taking care of their housework instead of focusing on getting their job done, which brings down their productivity.
Setting and respecting boundaries are key for any successful remote worker.
4. Productivity can become an issue
Yeah, I know that I said that remote working can increase your productivity, but that’s only in some cases.
Successful remote workers need to have a lot of self-discipline and make sure that their home’s environment is set for success.
Then, there’s also the business side of things.
As a team leader, I would love to have my team in an office to brainstorm together and increase our overall productivity.
There is only so much that you can accomplish when using digital communication. It can lead to confusion, losing track of important advances in your projects, and important details might be lost in translation.
So, even if individual productivity is on-track, your overall business productivity might suffer from having a team scattered around the world.
5. Time zones are problematic
This problem comes from the laptop lifestyle that so many people dream about.
What is a huge perk for employees might become a pain in the ass for you as a business owner.
Having to collaborate with people that live in different time zones is not as cool as it might sound on paper.
It translates into late-night calls, not having access to information right away, and having to look at your world clock more than once trying to figure out how late it is for your Australia-based employee.
Yes, having a different mix of people in your team can be rewarding, but it comes with a huge challenge as a team manager.
6. It can be lonely
No watercooler talks, no colleagues to lean on when you have a problem, and no sharing lunch with your work buddies.
Remote working can be extremely lonely if you don’t seek out ways to interact with other people.
Many people haven’t enjoyed working from home for this very reason, and they are anxiously looking forward to the day they can return to their offices.
For some, work is the only place where they see other people.
It can be soul-crushing for anyone who doesn’t have a social life outside of work. That’s why remote workers need to make time to spend with family and friends and engage in hobbies where they can meet new people.
7. It can lead to burnout
If you spend too much time working without boundaries, you’ll eventually burnout.
As I said before, when you work remotely it’s harder to shut down and you are more likely to overwork.
When you don’t disconnect from work and take a break, your work-related stress levels will quickly rise.
This takes a huge toll on productivity and it can even lead to total disengagement from your company. That’s why it’s vital that your employees have a healthy life-work balance and they take breaks from work every day.
3 Strategies To Manage Your Remote Team
Now that you understand the pros and cons of remote working, we will look at five strategies that will help you successfully manage your remote team.
1. Find the right team
Your team is the backbone of your business. You must hire the best people for your business to thrive.
But how can you recognize who the creme de la creme are?
Well, there are a few things that you need to look for in your candidates.
First of all, make sure that they are proactive. You want your remote workers to show initiative consistently. They should move towards action rather than stagnation.
They should also know how to prioritize their activities. This is crucial for any employee, regardless of whether they are working remotely or on-site. An employee who can’t differentiate between what’s urgent and what’s not may as well not be there.
Now, let’s take a look at how a hiring process can help you find the right remote talent:
- Create a job application process that shows how the candidates can add value to your company.
- Shortlist candidates and invite them for a call to get to know them better.
- Ask the top candidates to work on a test project.
These three steps will help you find the best candidates within a world of applications.
2. Establish expectations and timelines
When you onboard a new hire, you should set the expectations for their work and how you handle projects and deadlines in your business.
Make sure your new team member understands how you communicate, what they will be working on and the results you want to see.
While one of the perks of remote working is to have time flexibility, giving clear directions and agreeing on deadlines will be crucial for your business to thrive in the long run.
3. Create communication channels
Once you have a killer team and you have set expectations and timelines, you need to make sure that everyone has enough communication channels to share information, ask for help, and even bond in the distance.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we love using Slack for keeping up communication with our team. It’s an extremely dynamic platform that allows you to have different channels for each department, project, or even social event.
Slack allows you to share documents, communicate with your team in real-time, and you can even send GIFs to express yourself better.
You can also integrate it with apps such as ZenDesk to manage your projects.
Don’t forget to use Zoom or any other video conferencing software to get to know your team members face to face.
Last, but not least, you should also have task management software to help you keep track of your projects and their progress.
Remote Work Is Challenging But Rewarding
Whether we’re ready or not, more people will adopt a remote approach to business even after the pandemic is over.
Working remotely will bring a ton of benefits to your company but it also comes with challenges that crush your business to the ground.
The only way to beat that?
Being prepared as hell to take the bull by the horns.
- Find the right team
- Create communication channels
- Establish expectations and timelines
- Encourage team bonding
- Work by projects
Now back to you. Are there any pros or cons that I missed?
Let me know in the comments!