The way we all do business is changing. Even before the recent pandemic, the idea of remote working from home was becoming more popular. Now, after the coronavirus, it has accelerated to become a genuinely accepted way of running your business. But what types of remote working are there?
Remote friendly businesses are those with a physical office space that have flexible working procedures in terms of when and where people can do their work. That means that employees can do some of the work from home each week or month. There may be multiple offices staff can freely move between or they are free to choose their hours. But there will always be a part of their job that is based in one location.
Thanks to the recent Covid pandemic, for some it has been the only option.
Employees are given more freedom but this is often considered a privilege or a perk of the job. It might only be available to certain staff members. The difference between remote friendly and remote first is that with remote first working, employees are not an afterthought. Remote first places their needs as a priority, with a company culture built around staff being able to work remotely, at hours that suit them best.
In a remote first business, you won’t see your colleagues face to face on a daily basis, except through video conferencing. You may not even work in the same city or time zone as your colleagues.
Companies that are choosing the remote first option
More and more large companies are choosing the remote first option. Thanks to the recent Covid pandemic, for some it has been the only option. But others have been heading in this direction for some time and this was the final push they needed to commit to a new business attitude.
For example, the digital currency exchange Coinbase has said that it will be going remote first from now on. Twitter has said that its workers can telecommute for as long as they want to. According to a Gallup poll, half of Americans who now work remotely said they want to continue doing so even after restrictions about returning to work are lifted.
Facebook said recently that it would begin to allow most of its employees to request a permanent change in their jobs to let them work remotely. The company has begun to make most of its US job openings eligible for remote hires. It will also begin taking applications for permanent remote work among its workforce later in the year.
Upwork, Shopify and Square are three other businesses that will be making similar moves over the coming months.
So, how do you know if your business is ready to join them and make the move into being truly remote first?
Why now is the time to consider remote first
The obvious reason why now is a good time is because the business landscape has been altered in one of the most extreme ways possible. There has never been a better opportunity to change the way you work.
Now is the time to think less of office space and commuting. The business trip looks off the table for some time to come so we will have to develop easier ways of getting things done. All of these things point to remote working in the short term.
However, there are some very good reasons why it is a long-term solution too. Studies show that remote workers take less time off sick. This has long-term financial benefits for your company. By implementing remote working practices now, you will be in a better position to deal with unexpected events in the future.
Very often it is about a culture change too. We all get set in our ways, convinced our way of doing things is the best. But the reality is sometimes different. Taking the bold step to go remote first can lead to a revolution in the whole working culture and practices of your business. This can lead to happier and healthier staff. After all, who doesn’t want to work for a company that puts your wellbeing first?
How to make the change
Of course, changing the way you work to become a remote first business is not always easy and is certainly more straightforward for some businesses than others. But in most cases, it can be done relatively stress-free if you follow the right steps.
First, you need to think about your organisation. Evaluate whether remote working is for you or suits your style. Will you be able to attract and retain the right kind of talent if you go remote?
There are many good reasons why remote first is a popular choice. It is more cost effective and can increase productivity over the long term. It makes you more agile and flexible, with fewer overheads set in stone. This recent crisis has taught us all a lesson about unnecessary expenditure.
The coronavirus is forcing us all to ask some serious questions about our business. But it is also worth asking whether now is the right time to make such a momentous change. Going remote first can have significant benefits in the long run but it can have teething problems, and now may not be the time to expose yourself to further upheaval.
Making the change
If you have decided that remote first working is for you, then it is always a good idea to get some help implementing these strategies. This can help to iron out any bumps in the road and make the process much less difficult.