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Why some growth-driven companies are choosing all-remote

Hybrid, in-office or all-remote? We’re still debating which model is best. During the pandemic, employees reported more loneliness, burnout rocketed and leaders saw a decline in company culture. Today, employees continue to demand remote work options but "many struggle to thrive in this work environment” 1. Many leaders think remote work is problematic but are willing to compromise to retain and attract workers. Is it worth it?

The real reason why remote workers don’t thrive

Sid Sijbrandij, co-founder of GitHub believes that while a hybrid model may seem like a simple solution to offering the “best of both worlds”, many underestimate the effort needed to create a two-tier work environment 2. Organizations fail because they apply in-office strategies to remote ways of working. While the after-work social brings colleagues together in an office environment, the ‘Zoom Happy Hour’ adds to meeting fatigue and blurs the lines between personal and work space.

To help employees thrive in a hybrid environment, organizations must create two working systems - remote and in-office - and connect them seamlessly. That's no easy task. If you’ve ever participated in a hybrid work meeting remotely, you’ll know the experience isn't great. Remote workers don't thrive in these environments because they're not designed for them. While there are ways to navigate these challenges, it seems the hybrid model isn’t the ‘easy compromise’ most organizations hoped for.

Why some companies are choosing all-remote

Sid Sijbrandij believes the all-remote office can be a strategy for growth. Investing in people instead of real estate means all-remote companies can hire top talent in untapped locations at local rates 3. He believes remote organizations should focus on asynchronous work, building deliberate connections across departments and taking a documentation-first approach to be successful. Well-documented asynchronous work gives companies the competitive advantage of working across multiple time zones - helping businesses grow faster than location-dependent competitors.

How to create a thriving all-remote workforce

Company culture is the backbone of a thriving workforce. While in-office culture initiatives might include Friday happy hour, free snacks, comfy workspaces and collaboration rooms - all-remote organizations can’t rely on physical spaces or props to boost culture. Remote organizations need to be more intentional about their processes and how they reinforce their values 3. Here are some of the best practices some all-remote companies are adopting:

1. Document your processes and live your values

In the remote organization, documentation needs to come first. “Your culture is the values you write down, and what you do as a leadership team to reinforce those values. There should be no unwritten rules” 2. Maintain a handbook that documents your strategy, ways of working and values and encourage everyone to keep it up-to-date. Not sure where to begin? Almanac has a few open source documents to get you started.

2. Be deliberate with in-person events

Just because you’re an all-remote organization doesn’t mean you shouldn’t organize in-person events. The remote employee needs and wants opportunities to meet with colleagues in-person.

3. Work asynchronously

Sharing information asynchronously (outside of meetings) is not only more efficient - “most people need time and head space to focus and process information” - it encourages individual connection.

4. Support informal communication

Leaders should organize informal communication so peers can get to know each other through social calls, local meet-ups, co-working calls and gaming events.

5. Don’t assume all-remote means work-from-home

Different spaces serve different purposes. Need to get some work done? Work from the home office. Craving social interaction? Encourage remote employees to go to their local cafe or co-working space. Consider reimbursing co-working spaces for people who can't work from home.

Overcoming the trust issue

How can leaders trust their workers are being productive? GitHub’s co-founder says it’s not about trust. “You will get what you measure. If you measure keystrokes, you’ll get keystrokes. If you measure hours, you’ll get hours"3. He believes it's a mistake to measure these because "they don’t push your business forward. It’s so much more important to measure results. Managers are here to make sure that the results get delivered and that the results get measured”3. Productivity requires organizations to measure the right things.

Hiring for a remote job in another country

Want to hire a candidate in another country? Every country has different legal requirements so there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. You could use a professional employment organization (PEO) that acts as the employer of record (EOR) such as Lano, or hire people as individual contractors. If you’re a larger organization, consider hiring an advisory firm to assess the benefits of creating a local subsidiary, using a staffing firm or hiring an independent contractor

Is all-remote the right choice for your company?

That depends. Remote companies must be vigilant about supporting employee engagement, mastering team communication and facilitating a healthy work life balance. Done well, these companies can benefit from increased productivity, access to genuinely diverse teams and a competitive advantage over their location-dependent competitors. Remote work shouldn’t be a compromise - hybrid work models often take twice the work. It’s an intentional approach that requires an intentional overhaul of our ways of working.

Are you planning to expand your team across different locations? Our well-networked recruitment consultants can help you find the best digital talent worldwide. Get in touch to learn more.

  1. In-Office Vs. Remote Vs. Hybrid Work Two Years Later: The Impact On Employee Efficiency, Forbes, 18 March 2022
  2. The Remote Playbook, 2022, GitLab
  3. Advice from the CEO of an All-Remote Company, HBR IdeaCast, 27 September 2022