The Remote Culture Boom
As digital infrastructure and consumer technology has become completely ubiquitous across most of the world, the idea of hiring a worker from another city, state or even another country has become entirely effortless.
A major driving force behind the remote culture boom is because of how easy it is to find the exact talent you’re looking for. Often business owners find it exceedingly difficult to find the perfect fit within their own towns or cities, but open that scope to the entire planet and finding a perfect candidate is effortless.
Remote culture for businesses is becoming progressively more popular, and 2016 saw the largest jump in part-time and full-time remote work in the US. In 2014, 34% of the US workforce was already populated by freelancers. Last year, half of US companies were already looking more deeply into hiring remote workers.
Remote works for almost any industry
Remote culture will work for almost any workflow in any industry, apart from hands-on and labor tasks, obviously. Companies around the world can benefit from remote freelancers for tasks like marketing and advertising, website design, writing, accounting and more.
You know your business and your workflow better than anyone else, so you’ll be able to determine whether remote culture will work for your business by analyzing whether your work tasks require constant communication and a more hands-on approach. Remote workers are often simply handed tasks and kept updated with their requirements rather than constant communication.
In addition to skill finding, remote culture is a godsend for companies who need specialist freelancers with skills that are simply unattainable in the city the company is located in. Smaller cities without specialist universities or schools simply can’t produce workers with high skill levels in fields like coding, software development and cybersecurity – so there is only one place companies can go. The internet.
Build a Collaborative Environment
Large corporations and small business both utilize remote culture in a way that fosters growth and pushes their businesses forward. A successful remote culture is developed by how all of the workers work and communicate together, even though they’re apart.
A few steps businesses should take to make sure remote culture is seamless and promotes productivity is keeping everyone connected and in contact regularly, whether it be for work or for leisure. If freelancers are working on the same projects, it should be encouraged that they work together and stay interactive with one another both within collaborative work apps as well as general types of social apps. In typical offices it isn’t all work-work-work all day, there are breaks, general chats and information sharing, so this shouldn’t be restricted with remote workers.
Connection building is also a major exercise that companies utilize to ensure all workers are happy, connected and understand one another. This exercise is typically organically built by all workers who use chat apps and virtual office programs as constant communication, but making them available allows workers to build personality profiles of their peers.
Millennials and Generation Zers are far more effortlessly able to experience a cultural sense when working remotely as they’re more adept in reading and understanding online communication and messaging, as well as generally being more in tune with digital-only communication.
One of the most important stages of ensuring remote culture will work within your business begins at the time of hiring and interviewing. There are a few things that will be different during the interviewing process for remote workers, some of which include the response time from applicants as well as their ability to read and understand written-only messages.
An interview checklist or plan should be developed specifically for remote candidates as they will have additional requirements. This means that the flawless behavior and great personality of an unskilled candidate no longer works – you need to focus on skills and experience with remote workers as they don’t particularly bring a personality to an office.
Help Scout points out that focusing on looking at remote workers who have excellent track records is the key to starting out strong as these workers are more likely to be able to easily manage their time and are able to discipline themselves so well that they can work a full day from their own homes without any supervision.
Change your Workflows
If your business is focusing on making small sections of the workplace suited to remote workers, and not fully embracing it, then you’re going have issues down the line. Things like motivation will suffer as some workers find that they’re being under-utilized compared to their remote counterparts who have more flexible work times.
To truly make the entire remote culture scheme work flawlessly, you need to mold your businesses workflows to suit the remote culture. This means making everyone feel equal, even if some are halfway around the world. You should all take the time to make sure that remote workers are included in all office conversations, business related or not. Everyone loves to message each other fun things, so consider making an out-of-work group chat that will keep everyone connected.
Red flags will begin to appear when you start forgetting to include remote workers. If a task has specific guidelines and you’ve not told remote workers, then they will be the ones who immediately feel left out and under-utilized and start to sour at the idea of working with your business.
Management is Different
Managing and controlling workers is often a struggle at the best of times, but when you throw in a remote worker, then things get even more difficult. Or so it seems. But if you utilize all the resources and collaborative strategies that you and other workers have available, it can bring everyone and everything together almost entirely seamlessly.
Keeping everyone in the loop is essential. Like before, keeping everyone in the loop is the key to making sure people don’t feel left out, or like they’re missing out on vital information to make their tasks easier. This means that businesses should use software and group work programs like Slack to keep everyone connected at all times.
All documents and workloads should be shared with everyone so all workers know exactly what’s going on and where to look for new information if they have any concerns or questions. DropBox, OneDrive, iCloud Drive and Google Drive are also all great ways to share large swaths of data and information. It keeps everything updated in real time, and it will make certain that everyone is able to access anything at all times.
The key takeaway from this is that if you don’t keep everyone in the loop and connected with the same information you’re looking at, it will mean failure in the long term. A fragmented workforce and inefficient completion of tasks are slow poison to a business.
Connected Collaboration is Key
When you’re hiring location diverse workers, your best friend will be seamless communication and idea sharing. Even if your connections are light and you don’t share too much information or do a lot of talking, it still creates a connected workforce and makes all freelancers more comfortable sharing.
If the group chat remains dormant, no one is going to want to wake it up out of fear of being rude or messaging for a silly reason. Keeping the chat well used will mean that if anyone has ideas or questions, they’re far more likely to ask them.
Build Trust and Engagement
Remote freelancers who are engaged and have trust in each other and the business are going to be happier workers, and far more productive. This is great for ensuring your business is moving forward and becoming more profitable and stable.
This also holds true for turnover. If remote and local workers connect well and are immersed in the workplace culture and work well with it, they are far less likely to move to another company or simply become unproductive and bad at their tasks.
Hiring and managing a remote set of workers to merge with your local ones will mean that you have to treat everyone as equals regardless of everything. Adding some structure, engagement and a constant feeling of being wanted will ensure everyone gets along, is productive and makes remote culture work.
Your best chance at making remote culture work for you and your business is to be as devoted to making it work. Keeping everyone connected, setting up workflows that promote constant collaboration and investing in programs and software that help everyone stay connected and finish projects together are some of the best ways to ensure remote culture’s success. Some managers and CEOs even take the time to try it for themselves and stay away from the office for a week to understand how to better the process.
Emma Lewis is a loving mother, a devoted wife and part of Spacer, a company helping you find storage space whenever you need it. Emma is also a staunch supporter of the sharing economy and often mentions its benefits.