In light of the recent ban on working from home imposed by Yahoo’s newest CEO, Marissa Mayer, it’s got the debate up and running once again: is it better to work from home or at the office?
When thinking about startups, I’d like to add my two cents and argue that running a young company remotely is a very real and attractive option for many an entrepreneur. Not only because the technological tools exist to share and collaborate on documents, communicate in real time (even face-to-face) and meet those all important deadlines, but also because there are practical advantages to running a startup remotely.
By remote startup I’d like to work with the definition of ‘location independent’, not necessarily just ‘working from home’. Lets have a look at seven reasons why you should run your startup remotely.
Lower Startup Costs
A bit of a no brainer but an important practical advantage. Lower starter capital requirements and initial overheads are a dream scenario for any young company. Besides legal and registration fees, saving on office rental and running costs means you are free to hit the ground running at a minimum expense to yourself.
This means you can use those extra funds to develop your product or service and enter the market quicker. You can lower the barriers to entry earlier, thus making you more competitive. The cherry on top is that there is less need to seek out Angel or Seed investment, liberating yourself from potential equity-traps and bad decisions.
Extend your Reach
Not having a localised office gives you the freedom to travel, and to employ people across the globe. If you don’t have time or money to attend conferences yourself you’re more likely to have someone employed who will be nearby to attend on your startup’s behalf at a cheaper cost to you.
Having people employed, and a presence across the globe, gives a diversification to the well you can tap into to solve problems as well as expose your product or service to more markets giving you more research to work from.
A wider reach also gives you a bigger pool to choose from when hiring, for example, working moms and people who do not have the means of commuting into the office each day. You may find that innovation could come from cultural amalgamation.
Distance between you and your team doesn’t have to mean less communication, in fact it can often promote a need for more frequent and purposeful contact. Not being able to walk into an employee’s office at will or have a chat by the watercooler means that every point of contact is essential. Meetings take on new meaning and a mutual respect for each other’s time could be a surprising result of being remote.
You can’t walk around the office checking up on the progress of that big project, and you also don’t want to inundate your employees with interruptive calls. So this forces you to plan more efficiently and put strict guidelines in place. Employees will know what is expected of them, so they can get on with their work, and hopefully be more productive.
On paper, working remotely might seem like you can be more relaxed, and you might be able to… if you have the right team for the job. The very nature of being distant from your workforce means you have to make the right hires — getting the best team together, one that is disciplined, trustworthy and has a strong work ethic. Being remote might actually encourage you to do this from the onset, something that could help your startup in every facet.
Gives Employees Space (to Grow and Innovate)
Another important knockoff of being remote from your employees is that it instils a sense of trust. It’s built into the very platform of remote management. You give your employees space to grow and innovate, and they will hopefully thrive on the responsibility. Without a supervisor breathing down their neck, an employee can feel empowered and produce better results. Only if you’ve hired the right team of course (see above).
Arguably the most vital on this list. Many entrepreneurs live and breath their startup, and so they should, passion is the currency that drives a young company. But being up close and personal can often result in you only seeing a problem one way, or approaching the market from a specific angle.
Being distant affords you the opportunity to look at things differently — with perspective. Not only might you be exposed to different market shifts (if you’re in another continent), but you might find a solution to a problem where you never thought to look before. So is the power of perspective.
Please let us know your thoughts on working remotely or at the office. We’d love to hear in the comments. | Image credit: arminho-paper