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7 honest stories about challenges of having a remote team

...and 5 reasons why it's worth it anyway
7 honest stories about challenges of having a remote team
...and 5 reasons why it's worth it anyway
Anastasia Shiverskikh
Marketing Manager @ HRimplant
FEBRUARY, 19 / 2020
Today we are witnessing a trend in the modern workforce that can no longer be ignored -- more and more businesses of all sizes are going remote. The global interest in working remotely can be explained by the competitive advantage it gives to companies as they are enabled to attract and retain the best talent regardless of where they are located.

We ourselves have seen the benefits of having remote workers in scaling our business. But we were also curious about experiences of other fellow small businesses. We reached out and asked 7 businesses just like ours to tell us honestly about the challenges they've faced and whether they've seen any benefits. Here is what we found out.
CHALLENGES
1
Finding the right people
(and knowing how to assess whether they are right for the position)
If you don't invest in professional hiring services, chances are, you're going to spend months looking for candidates, which can cost thousands of dollars. When they do find candidates, managers with no previous experience in hiring remote staff often fail to ask the right questions. Result? Hiring workers who, although good on paper, might not be exactly suitable to work remotely. They might not even realize it themselves so it is your job as a manager or HR to properly examine if they are ready for remote work.
We have on occasion lost a few key people just because they wanted in-house culture, office etc. - even though they actually took a pay cut to leave us.
Roger Vaughn, CEO @ Swift Cloud.AI
If you made a mistake in hiring a remote worker, it can result not only in you losing them as an employee, but also usually a lot of money. On average, replacing an employee costs about 1/3 of their annual salary. You do the math ;)
2
Inefficient communication
You know what they say, you can never be too clear. Efficient communication is the backbone of a successful remote team. As 'talking' mostly happens through written messages, it is crucial to be as detailed and explicit as possible.

There are many aspects of efficient communication in a remote team. The first step toward establishing good communication is equipping your team with the right tools, from simple ones like Slack, Trello or Asana, Zoom, to more sophisticated such as The Meeting Owl, as well as automation tools and CRM integrations.

Get the list of tools and integrations our clients are using
We do have some challenges when working remotely, primarily with communication.
Adam Hempenstall, Founder & CEO @ Better Proposals
It is also important to remember that we as humans are used to getting clues about how the other person feels about what we say through non-verbal communication and tone of voice; that is why it is important to work on your communication styles, facial expressions, and remember to practice non-violent communication.

In our company, we also use different channels in Slack related to different topics. On top of more traditional ones for different functions, like marketing, sales, etc., we also use more specific ones like "Contracts", "ClickUp Feed", "Expenses" and others. Those channels receive automated messages when some action is taken, e.g. when a new deal is created or a new contract is signed. That reduces micromanagement and eliminates the chance that important information is missed.
3
Remote onboarding is way harder
than the onsite one
Why is onboarding a crucial stage in every hiring process? Simply because not providing proper onboarding is a number 1 reason why employees fail, underperform, and leave you. As a manager, the earlier you start the onboarding process, the better chance you have of reaching your desired goals, as onboarded employees tend to get up to speed 50% faster.
The onboarding process is a little bit hard. It might have been easier 1 on 1, plus it actually depends on the position.
Nikola Baldikov, Marketing manager @ Brosix
The top three challenges in onboarding are believed to be poor grasp of how the organization works, misfit with organization culture and difficulty connecting with colleagues. With that being said, those challenges become even more difficult when you work 10 time zones away from your manager and colleagues.
4
Your workers might feel lonely and isolated
There are studies that show 21% of remote workers around the world find 'loneliness' the biggest struggle of working off-site. This inevitably damages engagement and performance and can be the reason your employees leave you.
Source: Gallup Performance Management Course
There are ways to tackle that and help your remote workers feel more engaged. Gallup workplace recommends having frequent conversations, both about performance and non-work related, such as just checking in and asking how they are feeling.
5
Lack of accountability
Although this is not very common, as remote workers who stay are usually more motivated to get work done, it can happen occasionally. This mostly happens when there has been a mistake in the hiring process and the person selected for the job is not suitable to work remotely. It requires extra responsibility and
One of the challenges has been the lack of accountability. You may not always be aware if/when work is being done when you've delegated it.
Amit Raj, CEO @ Amit Digital Marketing
One of the solutions can be using time tracking tools and task managers such as TimeCamp, ClickUp etc. Remote workers themselves recognize the importance of those tools and say they are ready to use them to provide higher transparency of their work: "Compose.ly's CEO recognized that cross-border collaboration is easier than ever thanks to the internet and apps like Slack, Zoom, and Trello. Thus, I was able to continue working there even after I moved!" (Joyce Chou, Marketing manager @ Compose.ly)
WHY IT'S WORTH IT ANYWAY
1
You save money. Lots of money
From more obvious things, like office rent, to less apparent ones, such as office supplies, coffee machine and water cooler, when you choose to hire remotely, you avoid many spendings.
We have been able to save hundreds of thousands of dollars that would have been spent on office rent, electricity bills and much more. Last year alone, our net worth increased by 30%.
Chioma Iwunze, Content marketing manager @ Time Doctor
2
You can get better talent with less investment
When you think about it, it really shouldn't matter where you hire people from (as long as you take into account legal implications). What matters is what they're capable of. Remote workers are usually more result-oriented because that is the key/main way to show how well/hard they've been working.
We've hired locals/office workers and they were a lot more money but not necessarily any better. We can afford hiring top-of-range from India or the Philippines but in the US we're competing with huge tech co's.
Roger Vaughn, CEO @ Swift Cloud.AI
If your business is located in cities like New York or San Francisco, the local talent will be very expensive simply because of the cost of living and minimal wages. When you hire remote workers, you will still be able to find talented workers without giving up the convenient location where you have your network: "Though Houston is one of the U.S.'s biggest cities, its cost of living is significantly lower than that of other major cities, particularly those considered tech hubs. If I were based in Seattle, where our main headquarters is located, the 40% difference in cost of living would mean a salary that's 7-10% higher (according to Salary.com)." (Joyce Chou, Compose.ly)
3
When you go remote, you get employees that are happier, ready to work more hours, and stay in your company longer
A study of the State of Remote Work by Owl Labs showed that remote workers demonstrate higher levels of productivity, are ready to work longer hours and feel happier. Why? There can be many reasons. Among the most common ones are, they can spend more time on their lives outside of work, that is with their families, hobbies, and side projects. They can work from wherever they feel most comfortable and productive.
Remote workers come to their work desks mostly when they are feeling energized, creative and productive. Office employees are often drained by the time they need to start working, especially if they have to commute for hours to and from work.
Chioma Iwunze, Content marketing manager @ Time Doctor
4
Better results, faster and more cost-efficient
Remote workers don't always have to be full-time employees. Often when starting out, small businesses can't afford full-timers and turning to remote workers who are more flexible with their schedule allows to get things done with less commitment.
At the start, I couldn't afford to hire an in-house team and would not even have had enough work to hire full-timers. Remote workers who did part time hours, helped me scale up slowly and I could give them more hours as the agency grew its client base.
Amit Raj, CEO @ Amit Digital Marketing
We were able to jumpstart our blog with a budget of $40 dollar per week.
Scott Lengacher, CEO @ VIP Puppies
5
Your business can be online 24/7
Today, it is crucial that you as a small business be available 24/7. Customers today are more impatient than ever and responding promptly is one of the most important criteria of quality customer service.
It allows us to cover a range of time zones. Useful as a lot of our work involves email outreach and means there's often somebody there to check a reply shortly after we receive it. Faster replies , means quicker action and more efficient link building for our clients.
Amit Raj, CEO @ Amit Digital Marketing

To hire or not to hire remote workers is a decision every small business should strategically make depending on their needs and goals. For us, just like many other businesses worldwide, the pros clearly outweigh the cons. If you haven't had experience of hiring and onboarding remote employees, it is always best you ask for professional advice from HR consulters or else outsource your recruitment to hiring agencies.
Looking for a remote worker?
Let us help you find them
Looking for a remote worker?
Let us help you find them
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