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In 2018, 3.6% of the US workforce was remote, according to Global Workplace Analytics. Now, it’s estimated that up to 31% of US employees are working remote entirely, and an estimated 82% want to work from home in some capacity.

Offices have become hubs of work, and as such, priorities for employees, managers and business owners have changed. People are the priority, over the place where the people are.

How can companies adapt to this growing trend, make workplaces remote first and harness the benefits of a remote first company? And what is a remote first company?

What is a Remote First Company?

A remote-first company describes where a business has office space but does not require employees to attend the workplace all the time. Instead, employees are offered the opportunity to work from home if it’s preferred or necessary.

Remote first companies tend to have a culture where office-based workers and remote workers are given equal opportunities, and it creates a hybrid style of collaboration between the two. In a remote first company working from home is offered as an optional perk and each employee’s situation is considered.

What are the Benefits of a Remote First Company?

For those working in remote-first companies, there are benefits for both the employee and the employer.

Employees receive:

Employers see benefits such as:

Three Key Benefits of Remote First Companies

1)   Replacing the Physical Office

Larger companies are now choosing to reduce office space and instead create smaller office ‘hubs’, whereby employees have the flexibly to work from different locations, rather than simply local to the workplace or headquarters. This creates ‘pockets’ of workers, and it can be easily commutable for those in more rural locations by using technology to remain engaged and productive.  

This reduction in physical office space, especially expansive headquarters which are costly to operate, can lead to a decrease in leasehold costs and other overhead. Many companies are choosing to reinvest this money into the technology that provides a remote workforce with the infrastructure necessary to operate effectively, whether this is through adequate internet connections or a full office suite of work-related tools, such as videoconferencing software.

2)   Increased Transparency

Transparency in companies is becoming much more predominant as technology has given people the ability to discover information about a business, without the need for extensive research.

Companies are now choosing to empower their team members first, before sharing information publicly with shareholders. Transparency doesn’t just have mean financial figures and milestones; it can be communication regarding company direction and changes such as a new direction in branding, entry into new markets, or any changes to the daily operation of a business and its products or services.

By adopting a remote first company model, all information shared needs to be communicated effectively so it can be accessible to those in the office, and those remotely working. Many companies share news and updates through internal portals, ensuring that information reaches all employees no matter where they are situated.

3)   Valuing Individual Output

Too often companies will prioritise input and hours worked over output and quality of work produced. When focusing on building a remote first culture, companies can prioritise individual output and reward based, a company culture of doing over thinking becomes first, and produces a set of employees that are pragmatic and proactive.

By creating a quantifiable approach to output, those working remote are not seen at a loss for promotion or reward.

4)   Hiring Rare Talent

Finding talent that ticks all your boxes, especially in smaller towns and rural locations, can be hard. Going remote first allows you to tap into a worldwide network of experts, any of which who could be the person you need.

Remote first enables hiring managers to find the people your company needs, and because you are prepared for remote workers, you can attract workers without the concern of moving areas.

It also allows you to tap into an often-overlooked workforce; those with disabilities that render them housebound. Too often those with disabilities are overlooked by recruiters as companies don’t adapt offices to suit those with any kind of disability. However, this group of employees will be some of the most valuable you will ever employ. A remote first company can employ anyone and remote first enables each employee to work how they do best.

How to Create a Successful Remote First Culture

Plan on a weekly basis with clear goals

Planning for a remote first culture should be goal focused with weekly planning. By setting achievable tasks that can be easily entered into a timesheet, clear accountability is held, and planning is made simpler.

This doesn’t have to apply to just project focused roles, anyone can have a task-centred role. These minor moments of success and clear view of each person’s day create a successful remote first culture.

It’s important when introducing such scheduling software’s that those in office are held to the same standards as those remote. This creates equality and a location agnostic approach to success.

Focus on asynchronous communication as a default

By sending asynchronous communication the forefront, you allow those working across time zones equal opportunity to respond to, and to share, ideas in an equal manner. It also reduces pressure for immediate response, and instead creates on a focusable work culture, where time and sharing of ideas isn’t restricted.

With meetings, record them, or focus on viewable content. Recording announcements and emailing them out to everyone at the same time can be better than having conferences and having people feeling left out with miscommunication.

Asynchronous communication allows those who need to focus to focus and removes company culture from one of distraction to one of response when ready.

Make all discussions remote first

By making all discussions remote focused through video communication software, you enable anyone, anywhere to have a discussion.

At Stack Overflow, a technology company with offices in the US and UK, as well as over 80 fully remote employees, all discussions are done on Google Hangouts. This means if someone else needs to join in on the call, they can simply be added rather than having to create a new call. It simplifies remote first communication.

Take your company remote first with IRIS HR Consulting

Speak to our expert consultants on how you can empower a remote, global workforce to work cohesively. And our expert cloud-based HR software means your HR teams can be remote-first to. Get in touch today.