If there’s one thing business owners have learned from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that we all must be able to adapt. Whether your position has been deemed essential or not, it’s certain your day-to-day has been affected in some capacity. For many, that means ditching the commute and transitioning to the home office instead. In fact, a study conducted by Upwork estimates that 56.8% of Americans are working remotely. Up from the pre-pandemic rate of 21.2%, these numbers are staggering… But they don’t come as a surprise.
If you haven’t yet made the switch to a fully remote organization (F.R.O.G.), or you haven’t decided if it fits your company long-term, you’ll want to consider the risks and benefits that come with this change. Being a F.R.O.G. ourselves, we practice what we preach!
The F.R.O.G.: A Modern Take on Business Management
First, what are some of the PROs of a fully remote organization?
1. Lower Overhead
Here’s an obvious but notable benefit of a remote workplace... Your expenses will drop REMARKABLY! No longer are you responsible for office space, utilities, equipment, travel, etc. Instead, you can invest more in your business, and watch it grow so much faster.
2. More Satisfied Employees
Families are under a lot of stress right now. Classrooms are going virtual, childcare is hard to come by, and so much as a little cough means your whole family must isolate. If your employees have the opportunity to work from home, this means so much more peace of mind for them and their families. Even under “normal” circumstances, the flexibility of working remotely would mean more time with family, a more comfortable working environment, and higher job satisfaction overall.
3. You Get Your Pick of the Best Available Talent
When you go remote, you can hire the best of the best, wherever they happen to be. You won’t have to limit yourself to the surrounding areas. Your employees can even be continents away!
Some tips for hiring out-of-town employees:
Language is important. They should be able to communicate effectively with you and other members of your staff.
Keep time-zones in mind when accepting applicants. You don’t want to wait 10 hours to hear back from an employee if their schedule is the opposite of the rest of the team. This is particularly essential if you ever want to have a virtual meeting (which you will).
4. Fewer sick days
Punching the clock 5 days a week means, for many, that an appointment or family emergency means taking a whole day. With a results-oriented approach, you won’t care what time of day your employee works on a task, as long as it gets done. Meaning taking an hour to run your kid to the doctor won’t impact a full day of work. Win-Win!
5. Environmental Impact
Your team is no longer sitting in traffic, burning gas twice a day. Their commute can be as short as walking to the couch with their laptop!
6. You Will Begin to See Who Shines, and Who Hides in the Shadows
Unfortunately, when tasked with individual efforts, you may see some employees dropping the ball. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing! This will give you the opportunity to trim the fat and remove the unnecessary parts that are costing you money.
Now, what are the CONs of being a F.R.O.G., and how can you address them?
1. It’s a Little Harder to Maintain Close Communication
Sure, your team isn’t just down the hall from you. “Dropping into their office” may now mean sending a Zoom invite, booking a call on their calendar, or picking up the phone. All very manageable!
Some of our favourite apps for keeping up organization-wide communication:
Group-chats with topic/department threads: Slack
Project status updates and to-do lists: Trello
Virtual team meetings: Google Meet
Calendar bookings: Calendly
2. You May Not be Able to Enforce a Strict Work-Schedule
But is this a bad thing? Not really.
Have you heard of ROWE? The Results Only Work Environment focuses on tasks accomplished, rather than hours worked.
Consider this… You are paying 2 people to each paint a wall in your house. Painter #1 charges you an hourly rate, while Painter #2 charges you a flat fee for the whole wall. You would expect them both to work efficiently, right? What you’ll usually find, however, is that Painter #1 is dragging their feet, taking a lot of breaks, and getting distracted easily, in order to make more money off you. Painter #2 is moving faster, and getting the job done more efficiently, in order to move on to their next flat-rate project. Should Painter #1 really be paid more because they spent more hours working on their wall? Or would you see more value in the person who worked more efficiently?
A workplace that operates in a ROWE format offers your team a healthier work/life balance, higher productivity, and better job satisfaction overall.
3. Some of Your Lazier Staff May Not Suit a F.R.O.G.
Going remote will shine a light on who thrives as an individual, and who doesn’t. You can’t be shy about ending a professional relationship if the results are not up to par. Remember, long-term goals are important, and you must be able to trust your team, without micromanaging them. Find the Remote Workplace Unicorns, and show that you value them. Over time, you will build a team of self disciplined go-getters, and the results will multiply.
4. Some Businesses are Not a Good Fit
Reflect on your business model. Is it conducive with going remote permanently? Some retail stores, or highly collaborative businesses may not function well as a F.R.O.G. Consider your day-to-day operations, and make this choice carefully.
Our organization has been remote for the entirety of its existence, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. We benefit from the diversity, flexibility, transparency, and satisfaction of operating as a remote team. Whether your company is temporarily remote due to the pandemic, or you are considering making the switch to a F.R.O.G., we hope this list will help you get the most out of your virtual workplace.
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