By Rachel Honoway
“So, where are you based?” they ask.
“We’re spread across the U.S.,” I answer.
“Yeah, but, where is your headquarters?”
“Austin, Texas—but we don’t have a single employee there, just a mailbox. Everyone works from home offices across the U.S.”
“Wow. That must be tough to manage.”
“Yes… yes, it is…”
Managing a 100% remote team is a big challenge, but it forces us to focus on fundamentals behind teamwork, strategy development, goal setting, and collaboration that we may otherwise take for granted if we were sitting together in the same office every day.
Really, though. Why? Why would any CEO choose the added hassle of managing a remote team? For me, it comes down to these three key elements: talent acquisition, scalability, and costs.
Talent acquisition is by far the biggest advantage remote teams have. I’m able to fill open seats at our company with the best person for each job—not the best person within a 50-mile radius, the best person for the job.
Though we pay competitive wages, we don’t have to pay top wages to score top talent. Our employees see actual savings working for us over a traditional office job. They don’t pay for transportation, they aren’t continuously tempted to eat out at lunch, they don’t have to buy a work wardrobe, and many of them can cut back on child-care costs.
Plus, our employees value the opportunity to spend more time with their families instead of commuting, the freedom to work more flexible hours, and the opportunity to live anywhere they want in the U.S. It’s hard for other companies to compete with these benefits.
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This one falls somewhere between talent acquisition and costs, but it is substantial enough to stand on its own as a benefit. Leading a growing startup with a workload impacted by the holiday seasons means that I need a way to throttle my staff hours up and down to meet demand and reallocate budget from one role to another to help us reach our goals.
When our workload spikes around the holidays, our staff doesn’t have to choose between work and spending time with family and friends. They can work without impacting their holiday plans—even if those plans involve travel.
With a remote workforce, I can easily plug in contractors, temporary project-based developers, and part-time staff. We’re not limited to a certain amount of space in which to house our team, and we don’t waste a day or two setting up work spaces and showing new hires how to use the coffee machine. All everyone needs is a computer and an internet connection, and we can put them to work.
Since the entire team is already working remotely, adding new people into the mix is simple. They are added to our Slack team and invited to our standing meetings. They quickly fall into pace with the team and start tackling their tasks.
Take a look at your expenses. You’re paying for rent, utilities, janitorial services, coffee, desks, chairs, pens, paper clips, etc. Where would that money go if you weren’t spending it on supporting a physical space?