Challenges of the “Remote First” Approach for SMEs and how to Navigate Them

The Remote First approach has proved beneficial for many SMEs that have implemented it. It has allowed many companies to build great products and succeed.

Remote First approach has been proven an excellent way to attract and retain competent talent in an uber-competitive market. It can also help improve productivity as it eliminates the time spent on commuting to work every day. For businesses especially in London and other big cities, that could mean up to two hours of commuting saved by every employee.

Remote First approach can also make your business competitive, as you are able to cut some cost. This comes handy in a variety of situations. You are able to offer more competitive rates which can sway decisions in your favour for all kinds of clients, including public sector patrons.

However, remote work is not without its challenges. In fact, some companies that had promoted it in the past had walked back their own optimism. Yahoo! notably ended its remote working arrangement in 2013, citing challenges with communication and collaboration.

Then Yahoo! CEO Marissa Meyer had said, “to become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices. Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings…”

Communication and collaboration in a remote setting can be daunting, but it does not have to be insurmountable. It simply requires developing taste for virtual communication and collaboration.

To improve real-time communication and collaboration imposing some policies about availability might be the way to go. When people work as a team, they need to be able to talk to team members. Fix a time, say 10:00am and 2:00pm, that everyone has to be online to make this kind of communication possible. People can work outside of these hours, but they need to be reachable during the fixed period.

Remote work also leverages technology. In fact, it is difficult to imagine remote work being feasible without modern communication technology. Deploy technology with enthusiasm to improve collaboration and communication. Working on cloud-based services as well as communication and planning tools like Skype, FreedCamp, Google Docs, among others, can be useful.

Another challenge can be keeping the morale of the workforce up. It can be easier to motivate in a traditional office setting, where things like ambience, games, and even the presence of team leads can be uplifting. In the case of a remote setting, you need to up your game and compensate.

As the leader, you should strive to provide stability, advice, encouragement and support. Open and maintain a line of communication with your staff. Communication should not be restricted to just work, engender conversation on things that interest team members.

Let us end with this quote from a HubSpot blog– on this issue, to help introduce another tip that could help improve your remote working experience and maximise its value:

“Remote managers should contribute more overt public recognition for team member successes. This acknowledgement maintains a sense of value, security, and purpose. Public recognition also helps other remote executives understand the value added by other team members, which develops mutual respect.”