Why remote work might just unleash your startup’s full potential, land you opportunities by the dozen and prove Marissa Mayer wrong. Supercharge your workflow and check out our virtual collaboration cheat sheet.
a. Become a global player
While going local might be the best solution, when it comes to sourcing your food, sourcing your talent locally will hurt your company– badly. The digital boheme wants to integrate work in their lives in a way never before seen & acceptable – and early adopters have proven: virtual workplaces are tangible, feasible and highly profitable. It is key to hire the right people, however: A new workforce that is willing and able to perform is about to create a new work reality for themselves, one that will set the tone for the digital age(s) to come.
b. Give ’em space
- Long-distance collaboration and building remote teams are all about giving high performers the space to perform – not about employees playing with their dogs – or angry birds in their pyjamas.
- Remote work holds a promise – the promise of a more grown-up, self-disciplined and flexible workforce and, therefore, society. It is a 21stcentury skill, nurtured by an unchaining from corporate office realities.
- The sort of individual that will succeed at it exhibits the four core performance competencies of the future:
- flexibility, transparency, self-discipline and outstanding communicative capacity.
c. Get into the rhythm
Setting up regular core working hours and defining set times for check-ins and daily meetings structures your day and strengthens credibility – all in one.
d. Take creative collaboration to the next level
Outsource creative interaction and idea-swapping with colleagues to brainstorming apps, such as mindmaster, bubble.us or thinkgraph.
Steal like an artist. Working with the safety net of office structures falling away can be a scare, but with the right set up turning a challenge into a chance is as easy as one, two, three. Look to the best and brightest for inspiration and copy the best practice models that far distance office culture has to offer from the likes of Zapier, Github, 37 Signals and co.
Watch how creative minds meet and collaborate online
2 – Tools
a. Tool it up – Take advantage of technology
It takes some initial thought, but once you have set up accounts with the most useful tools and acquired the hardware that gets you in the groove, you will tap into opportunities you’ve never seen before.
Cloud-based systems are the way to go, when going remote: Dropbox ensures that documents are at your fingertips, and your company projects and to do’s are taken care of via basecamp. The back and forth with colleagues can be dealt with via yammer, campfire and even facebook – for those of us more self-descplined.
b. Don’t loose sight
When it comes to the finer things of office life, such as your daily meetings and brainstorming sessions that need presence of your fellows, synergy and interaction in realtime; video technology will help you out. In fact, live video communication might be your most effective tool to combat physical distance – but don’t think plain old Skype.
There are tools like dozeo, Blue Jeans, Fuzebox that feel much more 2013, deliver better video and audio – and an interface your apple machine doesn’t have to be ashamed of. And best of all, for some there is no download needed.
c. Nobody needs to work in a vacuum these days
Free spirits might need less restrictive ways to get their work done, but as in any good relationship, staying physical is key – remember up to 80% of communication is nonverbal, e.g. carried out over your body, not your voice. What would an Italian be without the gestures?
d. Start to think independent of geographic limitations
Far-distance-pitching and collaborative webinars with hundreds of people attending & contributing actively are not only technologically possible, they add some freedom to a startup’s budget, too.
Once you move into this direction and refine your remote work set up, you will find that freeing your startup from its geographical chains frees up time, money and energy. Energy you can surely use elsewhere in your startup.
You are now on your own – so take charge, model your day and hone your work flow planning skills on the individual level. Having a work-life schedule and using old school devices such as a Moleskine along with your virtual arsenal, will help you to stay on top of things and ‘work, when you work’.
a. Refine your personal virtual arsenal
We assume that – working in a startup – you know all about the basics: Google Apps for Business (Gmail, Google Calender and Drive). You most likely are an avid user of Dropbox, Wetransfer or Postwire already, you might be using Asana to simplify project management issues, but have you checked out Harvest, Hojoki and Doodle for your time management?
b. Provide a ‚proof of work’ & start to measure actual output
Set productivity and output goal posts and monitor your progress with Sprintly or Pivotal Tracker – and the cynics will say no more. (And when they get to see that you’re not in your PJ’s once in a while, they might even turn into converts themselves.)
c. Add some ‘wunder’
Apps like Wunderlist, Evernote or Concentrate make it ‘wunder’fully easy to get work done and keep track of your to do list – whether you’re currently located in a street cafe in Prague or on a beach somewhere in Miami.
d. Supercharge your day
If we believe a study by stress expert Dr David Lewis, commuters can experience greater stress than fighter pilots going into battle or riot policemen. By saving all that energy and pouring it into work instead you’ll feel like you just won half a day. And imagine not having to tow through traffic jams or public transport each day. No wonder, a 2008 study by Cisco Systems Inc. CSCO -1.20% found employees who could work remotely experienced a tangible increase in their life satisfaction.
Free Your Startup. Take pride in being an early adopter
With all the positive evidence out there, it is only matter of time until these ecosystems will embrace the trend: a joint-study published by Stanford University and Beijing University showed, for example, that employees of a Chinese call-center, who stayed home, needed less breaks – all the while being more productive. So, we all – except for Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer maybe – believe that remote work is not only here to stay; it is about to change the way we integrate ‘business’ in our daily lives.
In a society based on individual freedom, freedom of choice and an individualist mindset, this is a logical consequence: a sign of changes in thought culture spilling over into work culture bit by bit.
As William A. Draves and Julie Coates argue in the Nine Shift: we are in the throws of a transition that equals the shift from the Agrarian Age to the Industrial Age – namely, Industrial Age to Information Age. So, onto a new era!