Based on our history, we can see that unprecedented events have the potential to cause permanent mass changes. Remember the 9/11 attack? That attack changed the face of airport security forever. Suddenly, new transit rules were enforced and sophisticated surveillance gear became commonplace. Here is how remote startups are changing the game for everyone.
Likewise, the pandemic has forced businesses to embrace remote working. Like it or not, we have been forced into the largest work-from-home experiment possible, without any prior warning.
To be fair, many businesses had distributed teams even before COVID-19 blindsided us. In fact, according to Founders Forum’s survey of 400+ startup owners, 94% of the respondents were already working from home before the pandemic.
Nonetheless, most respondents anticipated that they’d be back to their desks within a maximum of six months. But with the pandemic showing no signs of abating in the United States and elsewhere, they’ve been forced to rethink their business plans.
While many businesses have taken to remote working like fish to water, some are struggling to come to terms with the new normal. To help them make the transition, a new breed of “remote startups” has emerged.
These startups have innovative remote work solutions that help pandemic-prep other companies. Their solutions cover a wide spectrum — from meeting schedulers to gamified learning applications. Their goal is simple: help their tribe make the paradigm shift towards a brighter, remote-friendly future. And, to make a few bucks in the process.
Virus or no virus, our business ecosystem is ripe for remote work. It’s just that startups are better poised than enterprises to capitalize on the remote opportunity.
Startups are uniquely positioned in the business landscape. Their constraints (budget, staffing, opportunities, etc.) compel them to look for out-of-the-box solutions. A startup needs to be on the top of its game to beat the big players and remain relevant. If they don’t come to grips with new situations soon enough, they have a lot to lose.
Considering their flexible mindsets and dynamic states, startups can pivot more easily and adopt a remote culture. That’s one reason why you’ve likely seen an increase in the number of SaaS startups since the pandemic set in.
Newly-remote companies face more roadblocks than a startup will, which impacts both owners and workers.
Mega brands like IBM and Google found that their productivity plummeted when they went all-remote. Yahoo, Aetna, and Best Buy reported similar trends. All of these businesses had to roll back their remote work policies and call employees back on-premises.
Upon closer inspection, I have identified a few factors that hamper productivity in remote settings:
Happy employees are more productive, satisfied, and loyal to their companies. Sadly, remote employees are more prone to pangs of loneliness and isolation, which can pull down their morale.
The funny thing is that 59% of remote managers are least concerned about their workers’ emotional well-being, which has a cascading effect on team morale.
Daily huddles are mostly about work. They just don’t have the same de-stressing effect as random water cooler encounters with colleagues.
They also complain about managers favoring in-office staff, even if they are less competent. Location disparity is a breeding ground for such negative sentiments.
Remote work is not one long vacation. In fact, extended hours due to lack of discipline can play havoc with their personal lives. This is especially true for people who fail to draw clear lines between work and home.
Teams in different locations rely heavily on tools and technology to make their working seamless and easy. They need to use software for team communication, project management, training, and reporting.
Employees, as well as managers, need to be trained to use these new technologies. This way, all of the above fears about employee productivity, engagement, and focus can be assuaged to a great degree.
However, 38% of remote workers claim to have received no special training from their managers to help them get acquainted with these tools, according to the Owl Labs research stated earlier.
Thrust into a dark space with no light to guide them, employees often stumble. They are unable to give their 100% to work.
There have been instances where companies have lost business due to poor client communication. Being technologically challenged, they were unable to revamp their communication strategies. Had they transitioned from pushing files to email workflows, the scenario would probably be very different.
Just like the SARS outbreak, which drove innovation and research in diagnostics and health, the current pandemic is also producing many heroes.
For remote startups, all of the above glitches have acted as catalysts of change. Let’s see how.
Remote startups have a great ideology. They develop state-of-the-art solutions to help companies get used to remote working. By doing so, they help mitigate the aftermath of the pandemic and make the business world a better place.
Among the current crop of remote startups, these are my top four picks:
In distributed teams, employee engagement is critical. The US-based remote startup, Eloops, keeps employees “in the loop” by means of surveys, gamified learning, and virtual check-ins.
Using the platform, you can build custom apps for your employees to download. The apps offer social and engagement tools, personalized inboxes, gamified onboarding sessions, and a lot more.
To build rapport with your out-of-office teams, you can create contests, quizzes, and challenges. You also get access to effective team-building ideas and tools. In short, Eloops lets you align your internal and external teams in a fun, breezy way.
Meetings are an integral part of remote work. Depending on your role, you might need to schedule and attend meetings with your teams, prospects, and clients.
Plann3r, a remote startup from Belgium, helps you create slick-looking meeting pages in minutes. In this meeting scheduler, you can sync your calendar, import agendas from other apps, and customize your meeting interface.
You can plan your availability and highlight your “busy” slots. In short, you can achieve reasonable time management and stay on schedule.
There are many prerequisites for hassle-free remote management. Staying connected with partners, teams, and clients is one of them. Video conferencing facilitates synchronous communication where participants can share screens, exchange files, and chat on the side.
In this space, the Ukrainian remote startup, Proficonf is doing wonders. Through this video conferencing platform, you can experience HD-level video quality, without dropped calls or data breaches.
Since the application is web-based, it’s light-weight and can work in browsers. The auto-recording feature makes your meeting highlights available at all times. This can come in handy for repetitive training sessions and sales pitches.
The solution works on adaptive telecommunication technology. In simple terms, the video quality doesn’t dip for participants with poor internet connectivity and low bandwidth.
While you’re working from home, who is keeping an eye on your office premises? Telepresence robots can.
Fitted with dual cameras and sensors, these nifty robots stalk your office and stream their footage to your phone, tablet, or PC. This way, you can ensure the safety and operability of your office space.
I know. One remote startup that’s been taking giant strides in this domain is Aubot. Their main product, Teleport, is a telepresence robot that lets you monitor your office from any part of the world.
The robot can adjust its height and change angles to bring objects into focus. From the comfort of your home, you can control the robot using a web-controlled interface.
Such solutions take the stress out of office supervision so you can focus on more productive chores.
It’s obvious that remote startups have a great present. But what about their future prospects? Is there any scope for their survival when things return to some kind of normal?
Remote work is here to stay and so are remote startups. While the future is a blank page right now, I’m confident that remote work will become the norm.
Favorable stats about remote work from the Owl Labs survey:
All of these facts are a reflection of the popularity of remote culture and its viability in the future. From the employer’s perspective, remote teams offer many advantages, including:
For employers, this means lesser attrition and greater stability. Moreover, they don’t have to go through the hassle and expenditure of hiring and retaining staff again and again.
Since remote work has so many obvious advantages, it’s very likely that it will replace traditional offices altogether. And as more companies go remote, the demand for remote-friendly products will keep growing. Now you know why I said that the future of remote startups looks very bright.
What are your thoughts about remote work and startups? Share them in the comments below.
Top Image Credit: thisisengineering; pexels