Imagine working from your couch, your balcony or from across the world. In fact … imagine working from wherever you wanted to work. No office. No restrictions. Sounds pretty amazing, right? You may be thinking it sounds too good to be true, but this is the exact set up and freedom that the founders of Freeeup enjoy every single day.
But it didn’t happen overnight. The Freeeup marketplace operates with a completely remote group of workers, and it was set up that way intentionally from the beginning. Virtual workforces are a reality in the digital world that we live in. If your business is set up properly, you can thrive with a completely remote group of workers – connecting and interacting digitally rather than in physical office spaces.
Here is a sneak peak at the secrets that co-founders Nathan Hirsch and Connor Gillivan used as they set up their completely remote business.
The Remote Setup
There are different ways you can set up your company to create a successful virtual environment. What has worked well for Freeeup is structuring all freelancers as independent contractors. There are no offices and no one works “in-house.”
The co-founders each have their area of responsibility and manage different aspects of the network. While the co-founders meet often in person to work on strategic goals and plans for the marketplace, they rarely meet any of the contractors face-to-face. Freeeup operates in a one-hundred percent virtual environment. The marketplace takes advantage of online technology to communicate and conduct meetings. And there are several benefits to this approach including happy workers, increased productivity and low overhead costs.
By no means is starting any business easy, and there are no short cuts. But when you do things right and intentionally structure your business in a way that makes sense, you will cut out a lot of heartache in the long-run.
When you don’t see each other face-to-face on a daily basis, how does a business owner keep tabs on workers? How would you even know workers are working at all? While communication is important in every business relationship, it is even more important when it comes to operating a remote group of workers. Without clear, concise and frequent communication, a virtual workforce simply wouldn’t work long-term.
At Freeeup, we communicate daily through Skype, email and other various communication tools. The freelancers are connected and able to communicate with each other around the clock. Here are a few tips we use at Freeeup to communicate with remote workers.
Tell the remote group of workers the hours that you are at the computer and the best way to reach you. Let everyone know the communication expectations from the beginning. The less surprises on both sides, the better!
One of the challenges of working with a remote group is technology failure. When technology fails (which it will from time to time), you can’t just run across the hall to a worker’s office. It often happens that remote workers have issues with electricity or Internet. Be prepared in advance for these situations. Communicate what you expect workers to do when technology fails.
Work out what times the remote worker will focus on your tasks. Ensure it works for both of you. By clearly communicating expectations of your schedule, you can always know when a worker is on performing their given task. You will know exactly when they are working and be able to reach them as needed during those times.
Similar to all people regardless of setup, remote workers thrive off of clear and challenging goals. Goals motivate the remote group as much as they motivate an in-house group. Set goals together and check in often to hold remote workers accountable for the goals that you agreed to.
Hiring the Right People
Not everyone is cut out for virtual work. There are certain qualifications that Freeeup looks for when adding freelancers to the marketplace. And if you are interested in hiring a group of remote workers, the founders of Freeeup suggest you look for the same.
Remote workers must be driven. They must be passionate and really care about what they do for a living. Because they work from the comfort of their own home (or wherever they choose), they will be faced with distractions. You won’t be there to keep them on track. So, when you are interviewing applicants … ensure they are self-driven and really enjoy working in a virtual environment.
As a business owner, you will always be responsible for holding workers accountable. However, when you work with a remote group, workers must be able and willing to hold themselves personally accountable as well. Self accountability is a quality that brings success to the virtual environment. When workers are reliable, you can enjoy all of the benefits of operating a remote group.
As Freeeup co-founder Connor Gillivan shares, “Having a completely remote group is a privilege, but it takes hard work and perseverance to get there. It’s absolutely critical that you hire individuals with a similar passion for the vision of the business and who have a proven track record of efficiently communicating while working remotely. When you can align those two factors, you’re able to create trust within the group that allows you to propel forward without issues.”
Similar Value System
When you hire a remote group that shares the same ethics and value system as you do and it aligns with the vision and core values of your business, you are miles ahead of the game. If workers care about the same things you do, they will work harder, be more productive and enjoy their work.
“I wouldn’t trade my group of workers for any team in the world. The fact that I can take a weekend or afternoon off knowing the business will be in great hands is priceless. The key is finding people with the same values and beliefs as you,” quotes Freeeup co-founder Nathan Hirsch.
The virtual workforce is a concept that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, the popularity of working remotely is expected to grow. The Freeeup Marketplace is an example of a platform that thrives and grows with a completely remote group, and your business can do the same thing. It takes intention and a bit of planning, but if you follow some of Nathan and Connor’s advice, you will be on your way to virtual success in no time.
Melissa Ricker is a nuclear engineer and a professional freelance writer specializing in career growth, technical writing and online entrepreneurship. She writes a blog, Engineered Motherhood, for working mothers who need help balancing career growth and time management.