The Covid-19 pandemic has forced companies to restructure their work culture, and employees are getting increasingly comfortable with telecommuting and from the looks of it, it is here to stay. For many startups, work from home is a part of their work culture. Some build their team entirely remotely without a central or formal location. Let us look at some of the reasons why work from home will become increasingly relevant going forward
Diversity in talent
The biggest advantage of remote teams is the flexibility it offers to tap into best talent or the job regardless of their location. Building a company in a distributed manner allows employers to leverage the best in the class. Not only that, building a team remotely also increases diversity in workforce. Greater flexibility, space to juggle multiple responsibilities, and an opportunity to do away with gender bias means that the trend is only going to pick up and transform not just work culture but also hiring policies.
Better labour cost management
Low labour costs can have significant impact on a startup’s viability. Early venture rounds are designed to help the founders find the right fit between the product and the market. Learning from developments and pivoting as per market requirements is crucial to avoid early burnout. The major cost for most startups at this stage is the salaries they have to pay to support technological development. With lower salaries, innovators have more time to experiment, which increases the probability of them coming up with a sustainable business model. While lower salaries do affect the bottom line, studies have shown that distributed models pay dividends on saved time and flexible work-life balance, which translates to a happy and productive workforce.
If you are the founder of a startup, building a distributed team lets you operate efficiently across geographies. You have to come up with strategies to manage communication and entrust more autonomy on distant colleagues. This fosters a shared culture in the organisation. If you want to expand internationally, you just have to scale up on the same skill sets. In fact, for many startups, an increasingly global innovation market does not only offer a distinct strategic advantage, it is also essential for survival. The more flexible your internal organisation, the more likely you are to succeed.
All sectors are challenging the predominant notion that in-office presence and connectivity is irreplaceable. There are numerous examples of founders who have built their organisations in a distributed way from the very beginning. They operate without an official headquarter and it has not affected their performance and growth in any way. As a matter of fact, flexible distribution and an informal setup enables better connectivity as it decreases the barriers that come with an in-office setup and emphasises live digital interactions. A distributed setup also allows companies to respond quickly to challenges, such as a lack of collaboration or a breakdown in communication.
Obstacles and challenges
Of course, there are challenges with a distributed setup. Hiring policies have to be modified to ensure that people who decide to come into the organisation are comfortable with your telecommuting policies. Even though more and more startups expect their employees to develop the selfdiscipline and skills needed to work remotely, often for long stretches, employees also expect to be incentivised. Some organisations with a geographically distributed workforce expect employees from different regions to work different hours to improve efficiency and output. The shift to telecommuting will continue to grow as both companies and employees understand its benefits and adapt themselves to the model. While the coronavirus pandemic is certainly affecting regular work patterns in the short term, the only way to meet the challenge is to come up with migrate to a distributed setup already being adopted by some of the most innovative startups across the globe.
The writer is director and creative strategist, CHAI Kreative and Return of Million Smiles