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There are disadvantages. Diligence in creating and maintaining culture and strategy is paramount. Remote work is not for everyone. But, the advantages outweigh the costs.
Necessary Lying is Not Good for Anyone
I was the interactive and art director at my first job out of college. My boss (the creative director) at the time was the guy who expected your ass to be in the seat at 8:00 am. Take lunch from noon to 1:00 pm. Then leave at 5:30 or 6:00 pm.
This was fine at the time, because I didn't know any better. It was my first job out of college, and I had no other experience to draw from, so I assumed this was how corporate life worked.
During my time at this company, I was skiing a ton... every Saturday and Sunday, but rarely mid-week.
There were a couple powder days that I called in sick for. Probably 7 total, over 5 years working this job. So, not many.
Why did I call in sick for work?
I remember one specific powder day... It was a Tuesday or Wednesday... a massive storm left over 16" on the mountain. I was pumped to ski.
The night before, I called Phil, my boss.
Me: "Phil! Hey, it's Dirk. Tomorrow's going to be a huge powder day, and I want to take the day off and ski. I have finished the work I needed to get done, so I won't be missing anything. What do you think?"
Phil: "No... I think you need to come in tomorrow."
Me: Sigh. Pause. Fuck.
Me: "Okay. Thanks. See you tomorrow."
I came into work the next day. Did nothing. Missed the best powder day all year.
I was pissed.
Every single time I wanted to ski in the future, I called in sick.
Lame. I hate lying. And this was needless. As I said, all my work was finished, so I wasn't letting the company (or Phil) down at all.
I've always hated this about corporate bureaucracy... this idea / perception people have, that if you're not in your seat (and I can see you) then, you're not getting work done.
Because of this–and many other advantages I'll list below–my cofounder and I have decided to create Sagenine as an all-remote company, right from the start.
Advantages of an All-Remote Company for Employees
The advantage for employees of an all-remote company are many. One of the most important is the commute (or lack thereof).
My brother-in-law works the in Bay Area. He spends an hour-and-a-half driving to work. And, an hour-and-a-half driving home after work.
That's 3 hours, per day, commuting to work. WTF!
No Commute = Giant Advantage
Setting Work Hours
The next best thing is the ability to choose your working hours.
I enjoy working in the early morning. I wake up at 4:45, drink my Amazing Grass, get the coffee started. Typically, I'm working at 5:00 am.
Others prefer working at night. Great!
The point is, everyone is different.
So, as the business owner, doesn't it make sense to let your team choose when they want to work? I mean, the outcome is what matters most!
Choosing Your Working Hours = Giant Advantage
Measure Results Not Time
If I tell you: "You have 4 hours to complete this task." You're going to complete the task in 4 hours. Same is true for 8 hours. Or 6. Or 12. Whatever.
If you know this is true, why, as a business owner, would you demand "asses in seats" for 8 hours per day?
The better route is to measure the work completed, opposed to the time it took.
Now, I get it, this doesn't apply to everyone: support staff and sales come to mind. But, you can still measure the correct indicators: Support tickets closed, Sales targets reached, etc.
Measuring the Results of Work Over the Hours Put In = Giant Advantage
Better Communication Channels
Having Slack open on your machine is the worst possible thing you can do as a creator. Interruptions are the death of creative work.
If there is a problem that needs urgent attention, pick up the phone and call.
Otherwise, don't interrupt people.
Don't expect people to reply to email instantly. Again, if you need an instant response: use the phone.
Formal communication channels are the key to employee communication within all-remote companies.
The goal with these channels is to create ample opportunities to talk about business goals, but also chitchat and have informal conversations.
By "formal" I mean, set times to get on video calls. Get to know each other. Chitchat and have fun. (Zoom video is great for this).
Formal Communication Channels = Giant Advantage
When you are part of an all remote company, writing is a skill that needs to be used and mastered.
Writing really forces a person to organize their thoughts and strategy to create something that others can follow.
The business advantage behind this, is you are forcing all employees to become better writers.
Thoughtful, Written Communication = Giant Advantage
Without the requirement to be in a seat, in the office all day, employees have the opportunity to relocate to other locations.
In 2 weeks, I'll be in Thailand with my family on vacation. From there, I'll work a few hours each day.
My Sagenine cofounder has expressed interest in moving to Thailand for 6 months every year.
This is awesome!
With remote first, he can work from anywhere in the world, including Thailand.
Employee Freedom to Relocate Anywhere in the World = Giant Advantage
One of the last great advantages for employees is taxes. California is one of the most heavily taxed states in the US.
If you are tired of paying crazy amounts to the government every year, move.
If you work for a remote-only company, this is easy.
Ability to Work From a Place with Better Tax Structure = Giant Advantage
Advantages for Employers:
- Savings on office rent.
- Hire great people anywhere in the world.
- Employees are more productive with fewer distractions.
- Savings on office supplies.
- Attracts self-motivated people.
- Easier to grow your company.
- Higher employee moral and less turnover.
- Contributions to the business (code commits, marketing, support, etc) continue around the clock.
There are several disadvantages for employees and employers also. I'll cover those in another post.
But the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.