When it comes to building a business, many entrepreneurs envision having a full set of dedicated workers sharing a trendy office space while working together to achieve the same big idea. Giving workers the ability to quickly talk with each other, exchange ideas and then jump back to what they were doing to make it even better is the dream.
Are you picturing wide open floor plans, productive people that get along well and an amazing atmosphere? That would be great, except that’s rarely what happens. Your typical brick and mortar office can have high costs associated with it and sometimes a rotten atmosphere. Those costs include renting the space, buying all the equipment including the desks, chairs, and computers.
Then there are increased labor costs as you need to provide not just wages but benefits and workers’ compensation insurance. These are just some of the costs involved; there are many more.
Instead of opting for the posh office space and a slew of local workers, consider putting together the perfect group of remote workers. You’ll save money and workers will likely be happier and therefore more productive.
If you’re looking to grow your startup and are wondering if remote workers would be right for you, read on. We’ve laid out the pros and cons to help you decide.
First, the Few Cons of Working with Remote Workers
#1 – Company culture may slide.
Having workers in the same office makes it incredibly easy for you to sculpt your company culture. The more that workers are able to interact with each other, the more you’re able to instill and develop the culture.
With remote workers, their exposure to other remote and in-house workers is limited. There are still ways you can create a thriving remote company culture, however. The strategies you use will need to be adjusted to the fact that remote workers are scattered across the miles and may not share the same time zone.
#2 – It can be impossible to move into an office.
As your business grows, one of the biggest hurdles you’re going to encounter is attempting to transition into an office space should the need arise. You will be able to move any local workers you have into the space, but getting remote workers to join you there will be nearly impossible to do.
If you’re thinking about hiring remote workers, chances are high that you’re never going to want to transition into a physical office. However, it’s worth considering the impact it could have in the future.
The Pros of Working with Remote Workers
#1 – Worldwide access to raw talent.
When it comes time to hiring for your local office, you’re typically limited to the talent you can find within an hour’s drive of your office. It can be hard to find people with the perfect skillset for the project you need done when you’re limited to your local market.
As soon as you start tapping into the global freelance marketplace, finding specialists that come equipped with the exact skills you need becomes significantly easier. You can find the right remote worker usually within a few days or even get the right worker within a few hours on the right platform. This is compared to the 6 to 12 weeks it usually takes to find a local worker.
#2 – You can let workers live.
Entrepreneurs know the burnout period all too well. You tend to neglect your own wants and needs to make sure remote workers are happy and healthy. However, that’s not why you got into the business in the first place.
You want to live your own life, too.
As long as they attend meetings and meet deadlines, remote workers are better able to manage their life-work balance. And best of all, you get to do the same thing. If you and the workers you hire are able to maintain a flexible schedule, all your lives are going to be better. They will be more apt to perform at a higher level, too.
#3 – It’s easier to put out fires.
There could be times you’re completely caught off guard in your business. Maybe something has come up out of the blue or you’ve been so busy getting the business off the ground you haven’t put emergency plans in place?
For instance, let’s assume you had a server go down after hours or there is an emergency with a key client. With a local group, the problem may happen after hours and nobody will be available to deal with it.
If you have remote workers spread over various time zones, you may well have someone available to deal with whatever has come up without them burning the midnight oil.
Additionally, if you do recruit across time zones, it means you are able to have better coverage for non-emergency situations. That usually means happy customers which hopefully translates into additional profits and referrals.
#4 – There’s minimal overhead.
That posh office may sound good, but in reality, it’s incredibly expensive.
When you add up everything else that goes along with having a local office — furniture, electric, water, internet, and more — your expenses start skyrocketing fairly quickly. For the cost of a few cloud-based subscription services, those office expenses are completely eliminated.
To give you an example, let’s look at some basic fees for running a business with remote workers:
- HipChat is great for communication and costs $14 per month.
- Screenhero allows you to share your screen and is currently free.
- Skype is amazing for demos and customer calls and costs $30 per month.
- Google Drive is free up to 15 GB of data, and $99 per year after.
- 15five is great for keeping remote workers motivated and costs $49 per month.
- Trello is perfect for project management and costs $23 per month.
That’s less than $200 per month, which barely covers the electric bill for most offices. Plus, you could even manage with just the free basic versions of these and other similar tools.
So Much Opportunity
It’s easy to see that working with remote workers presents many new opportunities. In general, there are far more rewards to using remote workers for your startup than there are for putting together a group of workers in a local office.
You can implement new strategies to help bring remote workers together, like virtual meetings and annual retreats, even virtual coffee breaks. You can use better onboarding and systems and hire across a wider range of time zones to ensure there is always someone actively working on your business.
If you’re on the fence about whether to start hiring remote freelancers, hopefully, this will help you come to a decision!
Jock Purtle is an internet entrepreneur and CEO of Digitalexits.com. He has a wealth of experience working with remote freelancers and knows the value they can bring to a business.