Increasingly, startups are adopting a fully remote work model. With no headquarters, no central office, and no physical location for operations, startups rely entirely on digital forms of production and communication. Here is how to optimize a startup for remote work.
It’s a viable model and potentially a very profitable, efficient, and fulfilling one for everyone involved. But if you want to be successful, it’s not enough to simply adopt a remote work strategy—you have to optimize your startup for remote work.
Why Remote Work?
Remote work is in fashion these days, so many people already know the benefits — or at least some of the benefits. But if you want to make the most of your remote work optimization strategy, you should be familiar with the setup’s greatest strengths.
Of course, there are some downsides to remote work as well. For example, communication can be more challenging, you won’t benefit from the physical presence and brand exposure of an office building, and over time, your employees may suffer from burnout and/or loneliness. However, you can compensate for these with the right remote work optimization strategy.
The Nature of Remote Work Optimization
Remote work optimization is all about restructuring your business in a way that makes remote work even more efficient. It’s a way to play to the strengths of remote work while minimizing the weaknesses.
Note that remote work optimization isn’t just about making your business functional in a remote work environment. Many businesses transition to a remote work model in an overly straightforward and seemingly efficient way — but it’s the wrong way. In this approach, businesses simply take operations as they know them in a traditional work environment and shoehorn them into a remote work mold. It’s like fitting a square-shaped peg into a circle-shaped hole.
In this inefficient model, you might translate all previous in-person meetings into video conferences. You might make all employees work 9 to 5 like usual. You might even have lunch breaks at the exact same time and in the exact same way.
But if you want to achieve your true potential as an organization, you need to take a different approach. You need to structure your organization with remote work in mind, rethinking or restructuring work aspects from a fundamental level.
Key Principles for Success
How can you do this?
Hours and Compensation
One of the most important areas to consider is how your employees spend their hours. In many roles, the sheer number of hours a person spends doesn’t really matter. They have a set of responsibilities and a set of tasks to accomplish; as long as they accomplish these, they shouldn’t need to spend a certain number of hours or be present at certain hours of the day.
Many workplaces can afford to grant workers some flexibility in this regard. You may allow employees to set their own hours, or at least be accommodating with occasional deviations from the standard schedule. You may even change how you compensate employees, accordingly, paying them based on what they accomplish, rather than with a set salary or on an hourly basis.
Communication can make or break your remote team’s productivity, so it needs to be one of your biggest areas for development. Utilize many different communication channels, including things like email, project management platforms, video chats, phone calls, and instant message platforms. Each channel has strengths and weaknesses, so using many platforms simultaneously can balance.
However, you should know that while technology can solve many communication problems, it can also introduce some problems of its own. Scrutinize your communication channels carefully, and be careful not to overwhelm employees with too many apps or too many notifications.
Working remotely introduces new security risks, so you’ll need to adjust your standards and procedures. Document new security policies for all employees to follow, and educate them on best practices like network connectivity and password management. Additionally, you’ll need to invest in tools like VPNs and firewalls to ensure your remote organization remains secure.
Feedback and Ongoing Changes
If you want to maximize productivity, efficiency, and morale in your remote organization, you’ll need to commit to making ongoing changes. Your initial systems and procedures won’t be perfect, and the only way to accommodate and improve those imperfections is to evolve.
Collect feedback from your employees to get a feel for how your remote work changes are playing out in practice. They may have suggestions for further changes to make or complaints about specific tools or setups. Listen to these notes and be prepared to address them, one way or another.
Optimizing a tech startup for remote work is much more than just saying goodbye to the office. If you want to succeed in this increasingly popular and competitive space, it’s important to take your strategic planning seriously.
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