Remote work is becoming an increasingly popular option among workers all over the world. In fact, according to a recent WIG study, 70% of employees globally already work from home at least once a week, and 50% do so for half the week. Companies are shifting the way work is conceived and this has led to an even greater change: a remote-first approach.
Remote-first companies are organizations that were built under a specific mindset: work can be done from anywhere in the world and a 9 to 5 culture isn’t necessary to grow a successful business, promote collaboration, independence and a healthy work-life balance. In remote-first companies, remote workers have the same considerations as in-house workers, enjoy the same benefits and live and breathe the same culture.
The software development industry is no stranger to this trend. In fact, Nearsure was created under a rather innovative concept: we are a nearshore software outsourcing company with employees 100% allocated all over Latin America. However, in order to make this new idea a reality, a remote-first culture is essential.
Undoubtedly, this new way of approaching business and work environments offers benefits for both companies and employees, but it comes with its fair share of challenges, all of which can be considerably more difficult to resolve for remote-first companies.
How to Successfully Adopt a Remote-First Mindset
These recommendations are crucial to any successful operation with a remote-first approach:
- Hire the Right Talent
Several positions already involve workers spending more than 50% of the time online: developers, designers, e-commerce agents, SEO experts, social media managers, marketers, writers and editors, business consultants, etc. For these workers, the transition is generally smooth and does not actually entail a different way of doing things. This, however, is not enough when it comes to hiring.
The pool of candidates where you can choose from is large, and as such, finding the right person for the job and your company can become increasingly more difficult. Regardless of where the person is located, there are a few traits you should look for when hiring remote workers.
According to executives from more than 40 companies who have achieved remote work success, the main characteristics they look for in remote workers are: communication, self-motivation, responsibility and accountability. Having proactive individuals and self-starters that show initiative can also be crucial for remote companies, but that are still interdependent. Regardless of the fact that they don’t share an office, they are still part of a team and members rely upon each other.
To successfully identify these traits, it’s important not only to consider the candidate’s previous experiences, but also that he or she has the necessary skills to work remotely, as well as the right attitude. Personality is also key to hiring remote talent. Managers need to be able to trust their teams. By doing so, they can avoid micromanagement, as well as performance and communication problems.
2. Devise Communication Processes
There are several ways to ensure communication between coworkers and with their managers, but one of the best ways to ensure effortless communication is to combine written communication and video calls, ensuring that, whether they are physically present or not, they can feel part of the meeting, interpret body language, actively participate and give their opinions.
The scrum framework is one of the most popular ways of organizing work in software development teams. It provides numerous benefits, mainly related to communication and organization. Scrum provides several instances where product owners and developers can meet to discuss progress and obstacles. From daily meetings, to sprint planning, daily stand-ups, iteration reviews and retrospectives, team members can be involved in each other’s tasks, collaborate when necessary and stay up to date.
When dealing with remote teams, having instances where the work can be reviewed together and everyone can be kept up to speed is crucial to ensure high performance, while also increasing involvement and accountability. Information is clear and reviewed on several occasions, ensuring everyone understands and follows through. This framework ensures accountability, engagement and satisfaction from completing the work.
3. Promote Team Building and Culture
Collaboration is another key element for any company, remote or not. For remote-first companies, were the default is precisely working from a distance, having the right processes to ensure workers feel part of the company and the workforce is crucial.
By hosting gatherings, playing integration games to break the ice and sharing online conversations that don’t revolve around work, companies create spaces where workers can get more acquainted. They also provide managers with the chance to interact fully with the team, getting to know everyone and work towards actually building a solid, functional team.
4. Use the Right Tools
By adopting tools, companies can organize work in a more efficient way. There are several tools every company should have, regardless of the industry, such as communication tools, time-tracking tools, workflow automation tools, shared documentation tools and development platforms.
Overall, the most important part of adopting a remote-first mindset is to ensure whichever the style employees prefer to work under, they will enjoy the same benefits, be held to the same standards and meet the same sort of expectations than any other team member who doesn’t work remotely.
Nearsure can definitely help select the right talent from a Latin American pool, ensure they meet your company’s standards, values and vision, and that employees meet the goals and expectations set by your company.
Creating a Remote Team Culture
Culture is one of the biggest concerns companies have when it comes to remote work, and especially with remote-first companies, where having everyone feel as much a part of the company as in-house workers is crucial.
Not having co-workers share the same space makes it even harder to promote the values, mission and vision of the company, which in turn affect the employees sense of involvement. According to Trello, “the key to building great remote relationships is intention. You need to try harder to find common interests, have meaningful meetings, and truly understand each person’s perspective.”
To create lasting relationships, companies need to set specific rules for every employee to adopt, regardless of whether they work at the office or from any place they feel most comfortable at, but also create a system which involves constant communication among employees through meetings or events.
To ensure the promotion of company culture, organization should adopt different types of interactions, such as:
- company monthly town halls where questions, discussions and presentations are encouraged. Companies can discuss progress, new priorities, celebrate anniversaries and new employees.
- chatting sessions, where a random group of employees is asked to connect via video call and talk about anything. This helps reveal common interests, that can later on be picked up by members on their own, developing more personal relationships.
- team offsets, where everyone meets for a different activity (beach, mountain, etc.) and enjoy quality time together.
Remote Yet Human
To effectively lead a remote-first company, it is key to remember that a company is basically a group of people, with their motivations, engagement, needs and wants. Ensuring they have an organized, accessible structure that provides the necessary tools to complete their work in the best way possible, a culture that promotes development, satisfaction and good working environment, embracing freedom with responsibility it’s what will ultimately lead the company to success.