How the world’s most innovative companies are leveraging remote work to compete
The days of remote positions being purely underpaid telemarketing jobs are gone.
One in five people work remotely and over 50% of workers say their company has a work from home policy. What this remote work trend has created is an entirely new workplace lifestyle and a chance for diversification like we have never seen before.
With the ability to recruit from all over the world, we’re in the middle of two major shifts in the workforce.
Shift One: Companies have access to talent regardless of location
Shift Two: Remote workers are having healthier and happier work experiences
InVision, a digital design platform, is looking toward the future and capitalizing on these shifts. They run an entire 700-person team fully remote — and they have been doing so for seven years.
InVision’s Chief People Officer, Mark Frein, told Business Insider he firmly believes hiring from any location gives InVision an edge as a technology company. Frein isn’t limited to finding talent in New York City and has diversified his workforce to talent around the world. He’s capitalizing on the statistics that show the value of remote workers (click here for an infographic on remote work statistics):
- Ninety-one percent of remote workers get more work done outside of the office
- Remote workers are happier with their work than office workers
- Remote workers feel more valued at work than office workers
“It’s about results, not where your IP address is. We care about what you’re able to do or achieve.” Mark Frein
Companies like Basecamp, GitLab, Buffer and Splice have also embraced a fully remote team. Basecamp’s founder Jason Fried, transcribed his remote working business strategy into a best-selling book in 2009, Rework. In his book, he explained how remote work was an integral part of his company’s success.
With only a remote team, Fried has amassed over three million Basecamp users.
As the founder of CO+HOOTS, a nationally ranked coworking office based in Phoenix, I watch business owners capitalize on having remote teams on a daily basis.
When it comes to innovation and closing business deals, the businesses capitalizing on the freedom that remote work provides are winning.
The future of the workforce is here and this is how to capitalize on the opportunity of remote work.
Work Environment Will Be A Priority
When working remotely, the work environment can vary from a table in a coffee shop, to a desk in a local library. Or, for some, it can be sitting in pajamas on the living room couch with your trusty cat pawing at your arm.
Josh Johnson, Senior Product Manager at Dribbble, runs a 50-person remote team from a coworking office. His experience with a remote team taught him that work environments aren’t a cookie cutter template, but a functioning part of an employee’s life. If employers can provide employees with the chance to find the optimal work environment, employers become catalyst to their employees’ health, productivity and longevity instead of inhibitors to their potential.
“No single way to work is appropriate for everyone. Some people are mentally and emotionally drained by sitting in a bustling, open office environment for nine hours every day. Others feel the same way about sitting alone at a desk in their home. Some people need to get away from their house to focus and be productive, others are happiest when they can take a 2pm conference call and enjoy a quick after school snack with their kids at 3pm.
We all win when we stop having tweet wars over which way is better and realize that the best possible job market is one that provides diverse opportunities to all types of people in all types of situations.”
The future of remote work depends on employers supporting their employees work productivity, no matter what form it takes.
Companies should take an interest in their employees’ remote office. Some are now providing laptops or a desktop computer. Others are giving stipends for home office furniture like standing desks. Even scheduling a weekly grocery delivery order to keep remote employees energized and healthy.
Lower Overhead than Traditional Office Space
All businesses are looking to create higher levels of happiness and lower their bottom line. Very rarely has the two ever come in one package, that is until coworking came around. Coworking space memberships often start at only $99 a month for individuals and allows companies to scale their team quickly and efficiently. This includes fast Wifi, utilities, office equipment, cleaning fees, access to networking events, free parking and more. Not to mention the biggest benefit — helping employees not feel so isolated. The overhead of a typical office is upwards of $3,000 not inclusive of all the utilities, maintenance, furniture and taxes. Keeping employees happy? Priceless.
Josh Padnick of Phoenix-based Gruntwork employs 14 remote workers and offers coworking as an employee benefit.
“We pay for everyone on our team to use a coworking space if they wish, and about half our team uses the benefit. The reality is that working from home all day every day, and then remaining at home at night can be draining and uninteresting. We also crave the in-person human connection and serendipity that comes from being in a physical workplace. Coworking is a great way to provide these things. You get the physical community, and yet your coworkers are distributed.”
Josh (full disclosure: he is a member at CO+HOOTS) spends 80% less revenue on office space than a traditional team does. When these savings are redirected to employee health and training, as well as business development, we see why remote teams are able to scale so quickly. Most spaces offer free trials for a day or a week, which give remote employees the opportunity to decide whether to see if being around other highly efficient workers helps them feel more efficient.
Coworking spaces are the done-for-you office space with professional development built in.
Work Will No Longer Be 9–5
The idea of the 9–5 work week is becoming less and less popular among employers. We’re finally realizing, it’s not necessary.
Richard Branson recently wrote a piece on the future of the workplace: “five days a week with two day weekends and a few weeks of holiday each year has become ingrained in society. However, it wasn’t always the case, and it won’t be in the future.”
Virgin happily applies an atypical work week with its employees and allows them to take off two months if they believe they need to.
The typical work schedule is an antiquated idea of how businesses should run. In most cases, there is no need for an employee to come in at a set period. Even more so, it would bode well for their health if they didn’t. Commuting to a job during “rush hour” is becoming increasingly stressful. Missing out on picking kids up for school does not equate to a great work-life balance. We have as a society switched from working hard to working smart and becoming a workforce that values measuring results over measuring time. It makes sense that 9–5 is dead.
Hire for Diverse Opinions and Cultural Backgrounds
What if each problem in your business was looked at by three experts with various backgrounds? Instead of getting the same answer three times, you’d have a variant of answers depending on the past experience of your experts.
The location agnostic factor of remote work means each of your experts stands on a different foundation. They all know the same information and can implement the same strategies but they may come to the project with three perspectives, three prior experiences and three ideas on solving any roadblocks along the way.
Diversity of opinions and cultural backgrounds is what Stephen Olmstead, Chief of Staff at InVision, attributes to the team’s ability to problem solve.
“Being locationally agnostic is not just good for talent, it’s also good for culture. Hiring across the globe ensures a diverse set of opinions and cultural backgrounds are represented in our approach to solving problems.”
Working with 700 people from around the world means that Stephen’s team isn’t built on the foundation of one person’s experience. It’s built on the foundation of 700. Which foundation sounds sturdier?
The future of the workforce is going to consist of happier workers that are location independent and aren’t hindered by their socioeconomic status, gender or race.
Companies will enjoy the benefits reaped when workers aren’t forced to show up to an uninspiring cubicle-laden dungeon with barely any windows after sitting in hours of traffic. They’ll see more innovation by hopping on a Zoom call for a team meeting and seeing the variety of faces on the screen, all with new experiences and ideas from their varying locations of the world.
Companies comprised of an inclusive and diverse workforce that supports happy workers is the future of work we all deserve.
Continue this conversation online with me on @poondingo.