Why You Should Consider a Remote-First Setup for Your Startup in 2021

Remote work has become the norm for a lot of people due to the recent pandemic. Many employees and companies have enjoyed the benefits of remote work. People everywhere learned that remote employment not only works, but it can even be considered an improvement. Why should you start with a remote-first environment?

Remote setup

Photo by bantersnaps on Unsplash

What is remote-first?

A remote-first company is, as the name suggests, a company that has most of its employees working remotely. There are no requirements to be present at a common office space, instead, employees work from home, or another office environment of their choosing. Typically, there is a central office space that may be utilized as desired.

This is an organizational concept that has been around for a while, but has become an option for a lot more people during the Covid pandemic.

Remote-first or fully remote?

A remote-first company is different from a fully remote company. In a remote-first organization, there is a central office area, and employees may work there, if desired. However, the idea is that most employees will enjoy working in an environment of their choice. 

Remote-first or remote-friendly?

A remote-first business concept considers remote work the norm, rather something that is only considered for special circumstances. This makes a remote-first business different from a company that calls itself “remote-friendly.” A remote friendly company allows for part-time remote work, instead of making remote work the default.

Remove friendly

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Why should you consider remote-first for your startup?

By starting a company as remote-first, you make remote work feel normal and comfortable. This will help the adaptability of your company going forward.

What are the benefits of remote work for an employer?

Save money

If you have 200 employees, but only need office space for 12, that’s a huge savings right there. You also have the option to hire remote employees from areas with a lower cost of living. 

Employee satisfaction

Happy employees get more done, and the quality of work is better! According to FlexJob’s 2020 Survey, 51% of workers felt they got more accomplished while working at home during the pandemic, and 95% thought they were just as productive as they were in a traditional office setting.

Remote employees also felt they were more relaxed, healthy, and had a higher job satisfaction rate. Commute stress alone has been linked to higher levels of anxiety and depression (Courtney). That stressful commute time is easily replaced with exercise, meditation, or downtime. By allowing time for other pursuits, your company will be full of healthy, happy employees.

A happy employee is also a loyal employee. The same FlexJob survey shows that employers and employees have a better relationship in a remote work environment. There can be less interoffice friction and politics with clear virtual communication.

Promote flexibility

Growth is much easier without the constraints of office space! A remote-first company will be much more adaptable to change.

Increased hiring options

By hiring remote employees, your company suddenly has access to the brightest talent from around the world instead of just around the block. A remote-first organizational structure widens your hiring field.

Hiring option

Photo by Tim van der Kuip on Unsplash

What makes a remote-first company successful?

Have clear goals

Why do you want a remote-first startup? What is the culture you want to cultivate within your business? How will you build your company to prosper as a remote-first organization?

Once you’ve answered these questions for your business, you can design clear, achievable goals for your company as a whole, your management, and your remote employees. Make sure everyone is aware of your goals going forward.

Building an efficient and well-thought-out operations system early on works as a bulwark against bad instincts and destructive decision-making. – Adam Spector in Founder Advice.

Establish a structure

Every company, virtual or in-person, needs procedures to run operations. Have a plan, and make sure everyone is aware of your plan. You’ll need a hierarchy, task organization, and good communication practices to succeed. 

Have a small-scale test run

Once your goals and structure are in place, try it out on a few employees for a short time. This will give you a chance to rework any issues before a full-scale rollout.

Small scale test run

Photo by Paige Cody on Unsplash

How does a remote-first company work?

Establish a virtual office

Since a remote-first company is different from a fully remote organization, you will need the right set of tools and meeting cadence to drive team building, culture, and productivity. 

At AbstractOps, we do team-wide update meetings twice a week and fun, cultural building meetings at least once a week. It’s important to keep this cadence so the team feels connected and can collaborate more effectively. 

One per of a remote-first company is that you can splurge on in-person offsites and offer these as perks to your employees. Saving rent and utilities on office space can save you money so you can invest this the growth of your company and team.

Set up communication channels 

Find a multi user-friendly communication channel. Have a procedure for communication, and make sure it is clear. Communication is vital to any remote-first company. Here are some of the most popular communication apps and sites:

Promote bonding and positivity

Think about your desired company culture. What can you do to foster that culture? A positive company culture will inspire loyalty in your employees. 

Find virtual or in-person bonding activities. There are many fun ways to promote a positive company culture! Even if you have every contest, game, and virtual activity in place, it is still important to have an in-person connection at least once a year. This can be in the form of a team wide offsite. By going remote, you may have the liberty to splurge and offer a fun offsite as one of the employee perks.

Hire carefully

Make sure the people you hire are a good fit for a remote-first startup. Not everyone works well in a virtual environment. Build your team with people who have previous remote-work experience, and share your enthusiasm for the experience!

Final Thoughts

Remote work is the trend these days. Companies discover increased productivity, employee satisfaction, and lower overhead by switching to a remote-first organization method. Why not start out that way? Consider a remote-first structure for your startup.

About AbstractOps

If you’re an early stage CEO, we handle and automate your HR, finance, and legal ops — so that you don’t have to. We help you Be Scrappy, Not Sloppy. 

About Mohit Tater

Mohit is the co-founder and editor of Entrepreneurship Life, a place where entrepreneurs, start-ups, and business owners can find wide ranging information, advice, resources, and tools for starting, running, and growing their businesses.