Our guest today is Grant Hensel, CEO, NonprofitMegaphone.
Grant, lots of startups leverage remote work and freelancers at the very beginning to save costs. Is this the case with NonprofitMegaphone, too?
When I started NonprofitMegaphone, I structured our work environment to be fully remote. Since we were such a small company at the beginning, I knew that we would not be able to afford rent and utilities so creating a 100% remote environment was immediately very attractive to us.
Three years ago, we started with two remote staff members working off-hours. In the course of three years, our company has grown to a team of almost 30, all working remotely. We have never looked back!
30 remote workers, that’s impressive growth! Do you find them to be more or less loyal than in-office employees?
In my opinion, remote workers are more loyal than in-office employees. Offering a remote work environment allows flexibility for employees to create a work-life balance of their own, where they are able to take care of their family/home responsibilities as well as their work responsibilities with the flexibility that those often require. This develops the kind of loyalty that site-based employers can only dream about.
For example, this week, one of my employees needed to pick her son up early from school as he wasn’t feeling well. Instead of having to leave work early from her office and lose all the hours for the rest of the afternoon, she was able to retrieve her son and clock back into work when she was ready to finish her tasks for the day. This kind of flexibility engenders loyalty in our employees. Some of our employees have said that they could never work at an office again. I don’t blame them! Flexibility is so valuable.
It’s also interesting to note my remote employees have helped me be more successful as a CEO. When I see the level of commitment that my employees put in each week to be successful in their work, even though I’m miles away, I am committed to making the best remote environment I can for them. Knowing that my employees are handling their jobs and tasks with such a high level of productivity is an amazing feeling. I want to live up to their example!
Working in a remote environment is often associated with distractions. Do you think that remote workers are more productive than their peers working 9 to 5?
Productivity is very individual and depends on the person. I confidently believe that the folks on our team would be very productive in an on-site environment, but that they are even more efficient in a remote setting. The happiness gains remote work produces are enormous. Hiring remotely gives us access to a much larger talent pool of potential applicants, meaning we can bring on people who not only share our work ethic but also our mission of empowering nonprofits.
I also firmly believe that a remote position fosters trust. When an employee experiences a level of trust from a supervisor, productivity increases. This is an added benefit that occurs inherently in a remote company.
Is it easier or harder to manage remote teams?
In my experience with an all-remote company, I have found that the disadvantage of managing remote teams is the inability to have in-person conversations and engagements. To compensate, we have several activities that we do every week - we have an all-team phone meeting every week with no exception; we have smaller team meetings within the company; we use Slack to foster conversation during the day and team building activities, and we have video calls when we bring on new employees.
Another disadvantage of managing a remote team would be in the training. All of our training has to be via recorded videos or phone meetings. While this works well, I think that meeting face-to-face for training could potentially make the training process faster and smoother in some situations.
That said, we are always improving our training materials and training activities to accommodate our remote environment and have experienced a lot of success there as well.
What about tapping into a diverse talent pool? Is it easier to achieve diversity of thought in a remote working environment?
Absolutely. We are able to hire folks who are a perfect fit with our mission and values of helping non-profits with the entire country as our talent pool instead of just a single city. We have incredibly creative and talented people working for us - from 13 states. We are able to screen thousands of applicants and choose incredible candidates who are seeking not only a great work opportunity but also a remote opportunity and an opportunity to make an impact.