How to Start a Fully Remote Company
The popularity and appeal of remote work have been rapidly growing over the last several years. As a result, more and more companies are transitioning from centralized brick and mortar locations to remote-based teams.
Why are companies going remote?
There a lot of benefits to transitioning to a remote-based company. That being said, advancements in technology alone may be reason alone for some companies to make the shift.
Improvements to computer, video and audio technology have made inner-company communication practically seamless. The development of third-party workflow tools has created collaborative spaces where teams can virtually work together in real-time, from anywhere in the world.
All this being said, there are many other reasons why so many companies are going remote. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of transitioning to a remote company.
The advantages of going remote
1. No commute
Unless you’re traveling to a WeWork or other collaborative workspace, a remote company means no commute. Ultimately, this means a better work-life balance with the following benefits:
- No sitting in traffic, which means no stress trying to get to work or home
- Less money spent on gas and parking
- Lowered carbon footprint
- Improved relationship with spouse
- More time with family
- Healthier diet with access to a kitchen and freshly cooked food.
- Improved work-life balance
2. Cut costs, less overhead
Let’s face it, rent is expensive. If you’re trying to grow a small to medium business in an urban area, overhead costs are going to be tough. Take away office space rent, furniture costs, phone systems, internet costs, utilities, and parking, and you’ll be saving a lot of money on overhead by going remote.
3. Access to a massive, limitless talent pool
Operating a brick and mortar business means recruiting local talent. As a remote-based company, you have the option of hiring anyone you want, in any part of the world. Imagine the heights you could take your business to by hiring the best talent in the world.
Furthermore, these days the term “digital nomad” is more relevant than ever. Social media #vanlife trends have sparked wanderlust in young professionals, and remote work is their key. For some industries, recruiting the best talent means adapting to that trend and making your company accessible to anyone.
The challenges of going remote
While the benefits of transitioning to an all-remote company are vast, do not underestimate the challenges. Whether you’re starting a new company or transitioning your existing business, going remote successfully is not an easy process.
For example, if you don’t hire the right people, you could face quite a few issues with productivity, motivation, and loneliness from your employees. Being adept at working remotely is not a quality inherent to all people, which is important to keep in mind.
And don’t forget, this applies to you as a founder as well. Make sure you have the right tools and skills as a business owner to manage a remote company effectively and efficiently. Here are the challenges and cons to starting (or transitioning to) a remote company. Make sure you are well equipped for these challenges before beginning:
1. Communication issues
Communication is vital for a successful remote company. As a business owner, you must be able to provide your employees with the tools and confidence they need to effectively communicate with one another. More importantly, you must be aware of whether or not that communication is even happening, and adjust your strategy accordingly.
Additionally, the delivery of information is extremely important. It’s a lot harder to misunderstand someone when they are standing right in front of you. Text, however, can easily be taken the wrong way. To ensure efficient communication, I recommend implementing video and audio based software that allows team members to engage with one another face to face.
2. Poor organization
Running a successful remote business requires attention to detail, clear objectives and excellent organization. This can be challenging as a remote-based company if you don’t have a system in place before you launch.
Cloud-based collaboration software can be incredibly helpful for maintaining organization within your company. Task management apps like Trello are great for organizing projects, assigning tasks and tracking progress reports.
Google Drive is also excellent for collaborating on shared documents and spreadsheets in real-time. Here at Remo, we really like Loom for creating instant instructional videos. As a chrome extension, you can record a screen share, personal video or both. It’s handy for recording meetings or training videos.
3. Lack of productivity and motivation
It’s much harder to gauge the productivity of your employees when you can’t observe them throughout the day. Conversely, it’s much easier for an employee to get distracted or lose motivation when they aren’t being watched.
This is why it’s so important to know how to hire the right people. Being a successful remote employee means being results driven, self-motivated, independent, good at problem-solving, and much more.
For detailed information on how to hire remote employees, including which traits you should look for and best practices, stay tuned for our upcoming article. We'll cover everything you need to know about how to recruit the most successful team for your company.
As a manager or business owner, you must have a way of tracking the progress of your employees. Time tracking software can be useful for doing this. Setting deadlines for concrete deliverables is also incredibly useful for measuring productivity and success.
How to start (or transition to) a successful remote company
Weighing the pros and cons of launching (or transitioning to) a successful remote company can help you decide if it’s the right choice for your business. However, there is still a lot to consider before beginning the process.
Why do you want to start a remote company?
As a business owner, it’s vital to have a solid grasp of what motivates your decisions. Going remote is a complex transition that requires a lot of research, experience, and expertise. Rush the process and you could be setting your company up for failure.
Even more importantly, why do you want your company to go remote? Is it for your own convenience and cost reduction as an owner? Or, do you believe that your employees will thrive with more autonomy? Whatever motivates you to start or transition to a remote company, make sure it’s for the right reasons.
Where will your remote company be based?
This question is relevant for any business owner looking to hire outside of their state or country. As a business owner, the physical address attached to your company will most likely be in the state you currently reside.
Taxes are incredibly important to consider when establishing a remote company. In some cases, hiring someone outside of your state could make you subject to state tax laws from both locations.
Hiring outside of the country is even more complicated. I highly recommend seeking professional legal and financial counsel priorto going remote.
How to pay remote employees
Printed checks are a thing of the past, especially when it comes to remote work. Consider using a cloud-based payroll provider such as Gusto to save yourself a headache.
Software-as-a-service tools like Gusto often integrate with other services, such as time-tracking software and HR services. I recommend doing some research to determine which payroll service will suit your company’s needs the best.
What benefits will you provide your employees?
Before you begin taking your business remote, have a plan and budget for employee benefits. Another good thing about Gusto is that it offers resources and advice from licensed brokers to help employers choose benefit packages.
Keep in mind, covering health insurance for an out-of-country employee is a different ball game. Often times, employers will allocate out-of-country remote employees a monthly allowance to cover health insurance costs. As a business owner, it’s important to factor this potential expense into your overall budget before you begin.
How will you maintain effective communication and work management?
To start a successful remote company, make sure you have a clear idea of how and when you will communicate with your team before you begin. Staying connected and engaged with your team is vital for productivity.
Just as important is ensuring your employees feel connected to you and the company. It’s easy for remote workers to feel isolated or disconnected. Effective communication, support, and team management will help your employees feel engaged and part of the team.
I recommend doing some research on various virtual communication and collaborative hubs to determine which one suits your company the best. Here are a few things to consider:
- If communication is an issue, consider an app that integrates seamlessly with video, audio, and screen sharing. This can be especially helpful for those about to launch a new remote company. Nothing beats face-to-face interaction, even if it’s virtual. Our product, Remo, thrives within this space.
- What tools are integral to your company’s internal functions? If you need access to a large file-sharing database, Google Drive is #1.
- If you need a communication hub that your employees can easily access via their smartphones, consider using Skype, WhatsApp or Slack as a company-wide tool.
- If task management is an issue, there are tons of cloud-based apps out there to help set deadlines, assign projects, track progress and more. As I mentioned earlier in this article, Trello is a great resource for this.
How will you keep your employees feeling happy and motivated?
Recognizing employee achievements can go a long way. When remote employees feel their hard work is appreciated, they feel good about the effort they’ve put forth. Furthermore, recognition will motivate remote workers to push for higher standards.
Here at Remo, we have a company-wide weekly meeting specifically for this purpose. Every remote employee shares their wins, challenges, and goals for the week with the entire company. This weekly remote team meeting has proved extremely beneficial in many ways:
- Every employee is made aware of what’s happening on a company-wide level. This helps remote workers in other departments feel connected to and part of the greater team.
- It improves communication between departments. When remote employees have an understanding of their coworkers’ workloads, it’s much easier to manage expectations and delegate tasks between departments.
- Every employee, regardless of their position within the company, has a chance to be recognized for their achievements by the entire team.
- Discussing ones’ challenges is a great opportunity to make co-workers or management aware of an issue that needs to be addressed. Doing this in a weekly staff-wide meeting provides a safe space for employees to voice their concerns without needing to speak individually to their superiors.
Virtual team icebreaker games are also incredibly effective tools for making sure your remote employees stay connected, happy and productive. They also help strengthen remote teams, improve communication and more. For more info on virtual team icebreaker games, read our article here, and download our FREE eBook by entering your email below:
Organize an annual company gathering
For many remote companies, employees may go years working together without ever meeting their teammates in person. Annual gatherings or company retreats help strengthen bonds within the company.
This is especially beneficial for remote employees who wish to interact with their coworkers on a personal level, but don’t know how. Company gatherings offer a relaxed setting for remote employees to get to know one another outside of work.
As the business owner, you also have the chance to turn a company-wide gathering into an annual reward for your remote employees. Company retreats can be something every remote employee looks forward to every year.
For year-round, non-work related company gatherings, online games are great team builders. Virtual games can offer a mid-day break where remote workers can bond with one another in a fun setting.
Over to you
Making the transition to or launching a successful remote company can offer a lot of benefits on a business-wide level. That being said, it’s far too easy to overlook the potential challenges that will face you as a business owner during the transition.
Make sure you are prepared for every aspect of running a remote company before you begin. Weigh the pros and cons to determine if going remote will truly benefit the overall success and health of your company.
If you are transitioning an existing brick and mortar business to a remote company, make sure your current employees are equipped for the change. Not everyone can thrive working from home, so it’s important to assess your employees thoroughly beforehand. Otherwise, you could be setting your business up for failure.
If you’re a new business owner launching a remote company, hiring the right people is essential. Make sure you know what qualities to look for in a remote employee, as well as best hiring practices. For more information on how to hire remote workers, keep an eye out for our next article. It will have all the information you need to know to ensure you build the most successful team possible.
Leave us a comment below if you have any other questions. If you’ve made the transition to or have launched a successful remote company, share your experiences in the comments below.!