How Remote Working Could Change the Face of the Startup Scene
The current COVID-19 pandemic has changed many things and impacted the way that millions of us lead our everyday lives. For many entrepreneurs and office workers, the biggest change to the daily routine has been a shift towards remote working.
Remote working, also referred to as telecommuting or simply "working from home" has been forced upon many companies to prevent mass absenteeism and even possible loss of life in regards to their workforce. Although parents with young children may hold polarising views, the consensus has been that remote working has been a 'forced experiment' that has worked out well for many companies and many teams within companies.
For example, social media giant Twitter has recently announced that people can work from home for as long as they want to, whilst Google has stated that its workforce will be allowed to work from home until the end of the year.
Remote Working & Startups
There are several main advantages when it comes to remote working and starting up a business. Firstly, overheads are drastically reduced. With prime office space in major cities costing up to £1500 per month, per person, if a startup can recruit a team that works remotely, then a major expense can not only be reduced, be effectively be excluded from the balance sheet.
Another major benefit of hiring remotely is that recruiters are no longer limited to the local area. With a shortage of programmers for example, in some countries with major economies, this lack of supply to the high-demand has sky-rocketed wages of some particular computer-programming related roles. With remote-working, recruiters can look to hire programmers from anywhere in the world; often to candidates with much lower salary expectations. Not only that, but it is also possible to recruit individuals in different timezones. This can allow some companies to provide a 24/7 service, whilst it can allow project managers and CEOs to set tasks for remote workers, which will be worked on or completed whilst they sleep. This can speed up the process for important operations - something that can mean the difference between success and failure in the business world.
With overheads reduced and with talent pools 'deepened', it is possible that the business world could see a huge rise in remote-working startups in the near future. Moreover, with many people likely to be made unemployed and many others accustomed to and enjoying the lifestyle of a remote worker during the COVID-19 outbreak, if businesses don't offer flexible and remote-working options - it is likely that many will work for companies who do or chose to take the plunge and start their own business.
Making Remote Working Effective
Shifting from office-based working to remote working can cause many issues with communication. To adapt quickly and to carry out projects and operations without errors, companies should look to make sure all projects and tasks are briefed-in to remote teams effectively.
The briefs should be extensive and specific and highlight what the result should look like so that there are no mistakes. The project-manager or team-leader should also look to schedule online meetings to ensure that there are no questions and that everything is on track. Using software such as Microsoft Teams should also allow team members to be available during working hours via live chat so that questions and queries can be asked more impulsively.
A set meeting structure may also be a very good idea for remote teams. In an office environment, information flows more freely and people can ask 'off the cuff' questions. Working remotely can often mean that people endure fewer interruptions, but it can also mean that questions not only go unanswered - they sometimes don't even get asked in the first place.
Many business owners would also encourage a 6-monthly or an annual meetup of some description. Off-site meetings or catchups could take the form of weekends in the country with several meetings and activities or just a get together at an eatery located somewhere that is equally convenient for everyone. These meetings are great for brain-storming and also aligning ideas and concepts. One to one meetings should also be scheduled in with managers and team leaders. This could be weekly, monthly or annually depending on the nature of the business and the job role.
Collaboration software is crucial. Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams are important applications for communication visually, whilst project management tools such as Trello help create project visibility that may otherwise be lacking. Again, the emphasis here is keeping communication efficient as possible but also effective enough to get work done as it should be.
Virtual offices can mean a few different things. Many people refer to virtual office addresses by this term, whilst virtual reality offices can also share this name. Virtual reality offices allow teams to schedule and book meeting rooms, to glance at each other's work (as you would do in an office environment) and to meet clients.
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Virtual receptionists may also be in demand, as virtual offices and remote teams will require someone to answer generic inquires and calls. Companies such as Moneypenny based in the UK and the US and Telumac in South Africa may experience a rise in demand in the coming months...