The Pros and Cons of Being a Remote-Friendly Company

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Should your business join the growing ranks of remote-friendly companies? This guide compares all the perks and downsides of transitioning to or adding a remote workforce.Image Source

Is your business ready to go distributed?

What’s the difference between remote-first and remote-friendly companies anyway?

If you’re considering a transition to remote work — or want to add remote team members to your existing crew — you have to understand what you’re getting into.

So this guide covers all the pros and cons of becoming a remote-friendly company, and whether it’s worth your business’s time, effort, and resources.

But first, we need to make sure we’re on the same page with remote work terms here.

What’s the Difference Between Remote-First and Remote-Friendly Companies?

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Remote-first and remote-friendly companies are often confused as being the same. But there are key differences between the two.

Remote-first companies normally:
  • Lack a physical corporate location or headquarters
  • Hire 100% remote employees 
  • Boast a diverse, global workforce

Being remote-friendly isn’t as absolute as this.

Remote-friendly companies usually:
  • Have a corporate HQ where most of the team works
  • Allow in-house employees to occasionally work remotely
  • Outsource additional work or hire specific remote team members to add to their staff

So compared to remote-first businesses, remote-friendly companies score the benefit of having a corporate location and both in-house and offsite team members. 

Let’s talk about the other perks of becoming a remote-friendly company.

The Pros of Being a Remote-Friendly Company

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These five upsides prove there are plenty of benefits to becoming a remote-friendly company:

1. Having One Centralized Location Creates Unity

Remote-first companies lack a centralized HQ, but having one makes employees feel like there’s a home base.

It also fosters a sense of community for team members.

Team members may be allowed to work and go as they please, share lunches together, brainstorm ideas as a unit, and more.

This day-to-day interaction — and freedom to work remotely as allowed — may improve productivity and retention.

This perk also means:

2. Employees Feel Less Isolated and More Connected

When remote-first teams never see each other in person, it’s easy for employees to feel isolated and like they’re not part of a cohesive unit.

On the other hand, remote-friendly companies offer a healthy mix of face-to-face time and solo remote work.

This hybrid approach helps you create a team environment where everyone is involved, engaged, and productive. 

3. Extra Productivity Hours

Remote work adds productive hours to your business day without overworking your employees.

You’ll have your in-house employees working 9 to 5 and your remote team members working in different time zones all over the world.

It’s like having a well-oiled machine working for your business 24/7.

Plus, remote teams allow you to adjust to life’s curveballs without losing productivity.

Is there a huge snowstorm coming? Terrible accident causing traffic to back up for hours?

You can keep your employees home to work remotely instead of calling them in.

Those wasted hours in traffic or dangerous driving in inclement weather now become productive work hours — and everyone will be less stressed because of it.

4. Acquire Top Talent from All Over the World — Without Breaking Your Budget

When you’re open to hiring remotely, your company’s not limited to only choosing from your local talent pool.

Your remote flexibility allows you to search the globe for your perfect candidate with the right talent and experience. 

Plus, being able to tap into the global workforce means you can find exceptional team members at much more competitive rates.

This is especially helpful if the cost of living and average employee salaries in your business location is very high.

5. Lower Overhead Saves Money

Having a remote-friendly company means you don’t need to spend as much on office space and supplies.

With team members working remotely, you may be able to move into a smaller location, spend less on utilities, or leave for a more affordable area.

These perks are invaluable if your HQ’s stuck in an expensive locale like San Francisco or New York City.

But the benefits remote-friendly companies bank do come with a few drawbacks.

The Downsides Faced By Remote-Friendly Companies

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Here’s what else you should consider when becoming a remote-friendly company:

1. Time Differences Can Become a Challenge

You may be dealing with team members in very different time zones, depending on where you outsource your remote employees. 

So if you have time-sensitive changes for projects or emergencies from clients, you may hit a few roadblocks.

Since some employees may be a full 12 hours ahead of your workday, you may not be able to hear back from an employee right away.

And setting up universal meeting times that work for everyone may not always be possible.

To overcome this obstacle, you’ll need to plan ahead even further than you usually would to make sure deadlines are on schedule instead of missed.

Try to overlap at least some of your in-house office hours with those worked by your remote team. Or try to find remote employees already working in your time zone.

This also helps counteract the next drawback.

2. Team Communication Takes Extra Effort

Your in-house team members may form a natural bond just from spending so much time together. 

They also don’t have to make much of an effort to discuss work issues, brainstorm together, or chit chat during their downtime.

But that’s the total opposite of what happens with remote team members, which could create a divide between your in-house and virtual crews.

To overcome this obstacle, schedule regular meetings with both in-house and offsite team members to keep everyone in-the-loop together. 

When you’re remote-friendly, you can invite virtual employees to your HQ for quarterly or yearly visits, at a minimum. This will help them feel more included and like they’re part of the team.

On a day-to-day basis, make sure to reach out to your remote team via email or Slack messages so no one feels left out. Encourage your in-house employees to do the same.

Regular meetings — both online and in-person — will help decrease your employee divide and strengthen the team.

3. Distributed team members often feel invisible

A common obstacle remote-friendly companies face is the distinct separation between employees who work in-house and from home. Those who are working remotely often feel out of touch with the office crew and don't feel included. This can impact their productivity and engagement.

To overcome this obstacle, Set video conferencing as the default way for both in-office and distributed team members to meet. Make meetings virtual for everyone and don't just set chat protocols for the distributed team members, make it the protocol for everyone. As David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried, founders of Basecamp say, “Level the playing field.” 

4. In-house employees tend to get promoted more

Similar to the point above, those who work in-house tend to get promoted more because their work is the most visible.

To overcome this obstacle, create a standard for employee reviews across the board so that the remote workers are getting evaluated in the same pretense. Again, you're levelling the playing field.

5. Leaders often miss the mark and begin monitoring distributed team members

We get it. The office culture is used to evaluating work by seeing it. But if you think monitoring your distributed employees is the same thing, you're way off base here. Adding this level of intrusion actually creates a culture of mistrust.  Plus, it's just creepy.

To overcome this obstacle, trust your team. Really, it's that simple. How you go about that is a personal decision, but it really begins with hiring. Beyond that, there are non-creepy ways to measure productivity and hold each other accountable. You can set clear expectations for open communication, checking in, providing status updates, and evaluating what output means to your business. Trust your employees and it usually works out in your favor, promoting more engagement and less turnover.

The Verdict: it depends primarily on your business goals 

The question of whether to go remote-first or remote-friendly depends on how you're currently set up, the goals for your business, and if you have the people power and resources to make the change.

If your priorities are to find the most talented people in the world while keeping your costs down, a remote-first structure is likely the way to go. If you're not ready to let your office and its tight-knit culture go but need to hire a new department or team of programmers, then remote-friendly would be a great option.

Are you ready to hire? Consider posting a job on our remote-only job board today! You’ll get to tap into top talent across the globe.

Need a roadmap for your remote-friendly transition?

Follow these guides next:
  1. The Dos and Don’ts of Transitioning Into a Remote-First Company
  2. Remote Work Hiring Guide: Expert Advice
  3. 5 Tips For Building a Remote Team
  4. How To Create a Policy For Working Remotely
  5. 5 Best Practices For Managing Remote Teams

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