This week, as companies big and small have told employees to stay home, we sent an email to our clients, partners, and friends telling them something different. Amid a worldwide pandemic, quarantines, and a global push to distance ourselves… Flying Saucer isn’t slowing down. Instead, this whole virus thing is kind of business as usual for us, just with more facemasks.
You see, we’re a fully-remote agency, meaning none of our team members ever work side by side with each other. One hundred percent of our work is done over video call, email, and through tools like Invision and Google Docs. So until COVID-19 can figure out how to spread through the internet (movie idea?), we’re going to continue doing what we do best— helping our clients change the world.
If you’re still on the fence about becoming more remote friendly, it’s likely you’ve heard at least a couple of negative things about it. And while there’s no such thing as perfect, we like to believe that if you compare all the pros and cons of working remotely, you’ll find the upside completely outweighs any downside.
Don’t believe us? Fine. See proof below.
Let’s have a quick chat about the pros and cons of remote work, so you can make a better decision about whether or not you want to start transitioning to a more remote-friendly workplace.
Working remotely disadvantages
For employees, one of the biggest reasons why they may not enjoy working remotely is the fact that you have very little human contact with your team members. Ironically, that’s a huge pro right now thanks to the novel coronavirus. However, when the world isn’t in panic mode, being isolated from others can be a bit of burden. It can be really nice to catch up with coworkers in the break room, make plans for the weekend, and share photos of your family (of cats).
If you’re working remotely, this isn’t possible.
To alleviate the pressure, we recommend setting up a #random or #watercooler channel in Slack so folks can blow off steam during the day. Another great idea is to set up regular gatherings where your entire team can meet somewhere in the world and have a beer.
Not Always Possible
Not every company is able to go remote. Plenty of folks simply have to physically go somewhere to earn a living. That’s a major disadvantage if you work in a company that creates physical products and requires your physical presence in order to do so.
We feel for you, bud.
Unfortunately, we can’t think of any way to counteract this downside to working remotely outside of creating and programming robots/machines to do the work for you. However, then you and all your coworkers would be out of a job so, if you do end up doing that, you didn’t get the idea from us.
Requires a Tech-Savvy Team
Working remotely is a fantastic idea if your team already knows how to use multiple online tools and has no issue working through Google Hangouts or Skype. Regrettably, that doesn’t apply to everyone. If the majority of your team members have issues remembering passwords or figuring out anything more complicated than email— remote might not be for you.
Our recommendation is to start slow. Begin introducing new tools one at a time, while everyone is still working in the office. You may also want to offer the option to work one or two days from home so employees can begin to get used to the concept. Take not of who jumps on those remote opportunities and who prefers to hang around at work. The latter may need a little extra help when it comes to go fully remote.
“What? What Was That? I Think We Have Some Lag”
Speak of tech, let’s talk about one of the biggest issues with working remotely… the tech.
It would be impossible to write this article without telling you exactly how frustrating it is when someone has a slow internet connection. Video calls quickly become a stop-and-go conversation with plenty of, “no, no you go,” and “sorry I lost you there, can you repeat everything you just said?”
To combat this, we might suggest chipping in for faster internet for your employees. After all, you’re going to be paying far fewer employee expenses (see advantages below), so you should have a little extra cash. If that doesn’t solve the issue, try looking at video conferencing solutions that allow you to call in from a mobile or landline phone, such as Hangouts or Zoom.
Working remotely advantages
Access to a Global Talent Pool
We’ve actually touched on this one several times in the past so we’ll be brief.
For employers, a remote workflow means you can hire people from regions you otherwise may not have access to. All of a sudden, your Craigsville, West Virginia startup can fill its roster with talent from major technology hubs around the world.
On the other hand, employees in underemployed regions can find work that simply wasn’t available before the remote work revolution. At Flying Saucer, this is huge for us. We love that working remotely enables us to hire people from any region and empower them to create amazing work no matter where they live. Aside from the economic benefits, it’s just a real feel-good advantage that helps make good on our commitment to impact.
Reduced Equipment, Rent and Utility Expenses
If you’ve ever been in charge of purchasing, you know firsthand how expensive a new employee can be, especially in a fast growing startup that needs to pick up new equipment for every new hire. New desk, new computer, new chair, new dedicated space for your latest hire to sit and make the magic happen.
It all adds up.
Working remotely, you don’t have to bother with any of that. Employees are free to work from any desk in their house, using the same computer they applied to your remote job posting with. This means you can quickly scale up without worrying about an exponential increase in expenses.
Scale Up or Down
This is more about hiring freelancers than anything, but we felt it deserved a mention. Because listen, the economy is a crazy, tumultuous thing that we don’t even pretend to understand. What we do know is, sometimes it feels like we have more work than we can handle, and other times it can be a little slow around here.
If your team is already accustomed to working remotely, you’ll be able to quickly add new freelance talent when faced with overwhelming workloads. On those off months, you can scale back to your core team members, and avoid paying salaries during tough times.
Work in Multiple Time Zones
Finally, one of the most advantages to having a remote team: the time zone. At Flying Saucer, we have talent spread across the planet, able to work with clients no matter where they live. This beats the pants off hiring a third-party call center or design shop just to accommodate a single client.
By making the transition to a fully-remote office, you’ll be able to connect with clients anywhere and at any time, without having to wake up at 3AM for an important video call.
Remote work: is it for you?
That’s our take on the pros and cons of remote working. Obviously, we’re a little biased, but hopefully the above lists can help you determine whether remote is the right choice for your company. As you look at each disadvantage, try and think about how you might combat each, either using the included recommendations or through some ingenious workaround of your own.
And, when you do decide to go full remote, we’d be happy to chat with you about how to make the transition. Feel free to reach out at any time, and we can talk about all the obstacles we’ve had to overcome along the way.
Stay safe out there pandemic pals. Remember, we’re all in this together. (Just not physically.)