The days of everybody driving into the office for work are numbered. Many businesses are run entirely without a physical office for the employees to work out of. Companies are made up of people who work remotely, some of which have never met face to face. That companies now have the ability to allow their employees to work remotely is one of the major trends influencing businesses large and small in recent years.
There are tons of benefits to not having an office, the largest being you don’t have to pay for it. That means thousands of dollars a year that you can invest on your employees, your products and your business.
Yet having a fully remote business does have some issues, especially in specific industries. Here are a few things to keep in mind before tearing down the old brick and mortar.
Does Your Business Rely On Teamwork?
Cooperation goes hand in hand with innovation, so if your work lives off of you and your employees working together, having them all in one location is a good idea. Especially if you need your employees to trust one another, because it can be hard to build a relationship with somebody over a messaging app.
While there are great tools for having digital meetings, there is no replacement for having everybody together for an old fashioned, whiteboard using, brainstorm. It also makes collaboration projects a little more difficult, especially if employees don’t keep similar work schedules or are in different time zones.
Are Your Workers Independent?
Working from home requires a level of independence and resourcefulness not every employee has, so take stock of your current workers and the type of potential employees you attract. Are they able to go days on end without supervision and management intervention? How are you going to train new employees?
Managing a team of remote workers is a unique trial. You have to give them enough direction to keep them focused, but give them plenty of freedom to work. It can be frustrating for management to have less control over workers, especially when workers choose their own hours, but there are projects close to deadlines. It’s a lot harder to approach workers who may be struggling because you can’t physically see them working. All you can see is their finished work.
Face To Face Meetings With Clients
If you meet with customers, clients and partners on a normal basis, having a nice office with a professional conference room can make a big difference in your interactions. Sure, you can meet at a coffee house or some other third party site, but wouldn’t it be nice to have all of your information on site? That way, if somebody has an important question you can’t answer, you can figure it out quickly right there instead of calling somebody else or leaving it up in the air until later.
Everybody Has To Be Tech Savvy
Working from home is much more than typing away on a keyboard. A remote business has to rely on different software to replace an office space, and that means everybody needs to know how to run them. While some programs, like a messenger chat or email, are simple, others can become increasingly complex. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to teach an un-tech savvy person how to use something remotely. This could be a big waste of time if multiple employees have difficulties with tech and it may be simpler to keep them all in one location.
Lack of Company Culture
Having a strong company culture is important to retaining employees and keeping them happy. In an office space, you can have potlucks, open conversations, office parties, decorations, and a general feel to the workplace. Remote employees though build their own company culture wherever they are.
While this isn’t terrible, you can’t have a unified culture across your workers. It creates a disconnect between everybody’s experience, making it harder for them to form bonds to the company. That lack of company culture may lead to increased employee turnover and employees not engaging with supervisors and coworkers.
Weighing Your Options
Having a remote office isn’t bad. In fact, tons of businesses are adopting this model. For many, the savings of remote workers outweighs some of the costs. Along with less overhead costs without an office, this model allows employers to recruit workers from everywhere and let them work when they are most effective.
Determining whether you need an office or not isn’t easy, and it is something you need to talk about with your employees. Consider if the benefits are worth the costs and whether your business could survive remotely.
Have you ever managed a remote team? What were some of the trials you encounter? Did you run a business without an office and succeed? Let us know some of your experiences in the comments below!