Sean Weisbrot is a serial entrepreneur and the CEO of SideKick. Having worked remotely for the last 7 years prior to starting his secure payments and messaging app, SideKick, Sean insisted on pursuing a remote-only work policy. He firmly believed that cultivating a decentralized workforce is key to making a company attractive in many ways.
Sean, what are the benefits associated with remote work? Most managers are still reluctant to go all-remote.
Well, managing a remote team is often seen as a challenge but there are some advantages that are not to be neglected.
- Keeping costs low
- Allowing for a true work-life balance
- Increasing productivity by removing unnecessary noise
- Allowing for better scheduling and management of tasks and meetings
- Allowing for access to a global talent pool
- Prioritizing the comfort of employees
- Speeding up the timeline for becoming profitable
On the other hand, there are obvious benefits of having the team in one place, like face-to-face communication and the simple aspect of interacting with your team in-person. Veronica Gilrane, Analytics Manager at Google, surveyed 5000+ Google employees and found no difference in the effectiveness of teams whose work requires collaboration with colleagues around the globe.
In her blog, Gilrane wrote:
“Googlers or teams who work virtually find ways to prioritize a steady work-life balance...” The only challenge they faced was a slightly more difficult building of interpersonal connections.
Nevertheless, there are also obvious downsides to a non-remote working environment. Working around a pre-set office schedule, getting ready to go out, commuting, settling into the office; these things waste time and can even lower morale and energy levels.
Twenty-first-century technology allows teams to smoothly utilize video conferencing software, like Zoom, from all corners of the world. The only difference is that rather than having them move away from their homes for a job, they can join the meetings and then have dinner with their families and play with their children before bed. Those moments are priceless. Why should they be missed out?
Remote Workers are More Loyal
Some of SideKick’s team members used to commute 2 hours each way, every day they went to work in their previous jobs, so hearing that the company was offering remote jobs made them ecstatic about the opportunity. By allowing them some freedom to schedule their day around their family life and trusting them to be honest about how much they work, SideKick builds and increases loyalty.
In fact, a recent study conducted by OwlLabs found that “companies that support remote work have 25% lower employee turnover than companies that don't.” Employees appreciate being given more freedom and trust, especially when their time and health are prioritized over their need to be physically present in an office.
Remote Companies are More Cost Effective
A different study conducted by PGi found that the average real-estate savings from having a full-time, remote employee is $10,000 USD per year alone. Renting physical offices is a huge overhead cost, not to mention equipment, internet, electricity, meals, and transportation, it’s no wonder that 82% of businesses that fail do so due to poor cash management.
By adopting an all-remote policy, companies can avoid all of these costs, and put that money into marketing and hiring high-quality people which makes scaling faster and more effective. At the same time, fewer headcount costs simplify accounting and speed up the timeframe for becoming profitable. That is something all investors will appreciate.
Remote Workers are More Productive
Centralized office spaces can be noisy, distracting, and often lead to a lot of time-wasting, which is why SideKick allows team members to choose when they work. Some work from 3pm to midnight, while others choose 3am to noon or 9am to 6pm. By giving them the freedom to plan their work schedule around their family and other responsibilities, it decreases stress while increasing their desire to do a great job. This results in a more transparent relationship with far greater efficiency and higher quality results.
To illustrate this point, a survey by Connect Solutions showed that 77% of remote-working employees report greater productivity when working from home and their companies reported they are 52% less likely to take time off.
On top of this, when teams aren’t physically together, it teaches them to communicate more effectively and be very clear about goals and milestones. At the beginning of each week, SideKick teams come together to reflect on what has been finished from the previous week, and what the focus of the coming week should be. Based on that, it allows the company to set timelines for development to keep in line with public-facing promotions and partnerships.
Remote Teams are Easier to Manage
Managing remote teams can be easier and harder at the same time. SideKick’s team members live between Spain and the Philippines, so the timezone range makes it more difficult than if they were all in one space, but this separation creates the opportunity for daily communication using tools like Slack. In fact, due to the requirement in being mindful of timezone differences, people are likely more effective in communicating as a team.
What makes the development of remote tech projects easier are tools like Gitlab and Github which allow teams to leave comments on code commits and merge requests. Multiple members of the team can comment as they come online and have time, so face to face meetings can be decreased significantly while still remaining efficient.
Remote Companies Can Reach a Global Talent Pool
Companies embracing a remote work strategy can benefit from global technology and talent while being picky about their country of incorporation. For example, SideKick is incorporated in Singapore because it has the best legal framework for the Blockchain industry. Since Singaporean law does not require any company to maintain a physical presence, all team members can choose where to live.
Personally, I prefer to live in Saigon, but Vietnam's talent pool is somewhat limited and still maturing. The all-remote concept allows me to enjoy life in Vietnam while hiring and managing people from anywhere in the world.
SideKick employes people in Europe and Asia and the team has flexibility and freedom in their schedule. It goes without saying that there is an abundance of talent worldwide. Had SideKick used a traditional method of operating in a centralized manner, the company would have been bound to a very limited local talent pool.