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Who Needs an Office? How to Go 100 Percent Remote.

Who Needs an Office? How to Go 100 Percent Remote.
Image credit: herval | Flickr

More and more companies are going 100 percent remote. The remote trend is especially widespread in the startup community. When cash and resources are low, you do what you can, and going remote is one of the smartest moves you can make.

It was just about a year ago that FlexJobs declared, “2014 is THE year to find remote jobs.” Of course, big companies like Xerox and Apple allow remote work, but it’s the startup environment that has really embraced remote work situations. Entrepreneurs are realizing that it doesn’t matter where an employee is, as long as he or she can communicate with the team and get work done.

If you’re curious about how to make your business go remote, here are your answers.

1. Intentionally hire remote people.

First, you want to hire people who are remote and who can work remote. It is self-defeating if you decide to “go remote” but then hire local people. Create a remote environment right off the bat by seeking out remote workers and hiring them.

Use a remote job board to find workers who are already remote. Some job boards like WeWorkRemotely.com and Angel.co allow you to post jobs for people who are specifically interested in remote work. Both of these websites cater to startups, so the type of people you will find are the type of people whom you will want to shape a startup culture.

Hire people who have remote experience. Not everyone is cut out to be a remote worker. If someone does not have any remote work experience, think twice before hiring the individual. His or her lack of remote experience may be just as significant as the person’s lack of experience in any other key area.

Remote workers know their work style, their rhythms, how to self start, how to stay on task and how to stay inspired. Basically, they will do a better job working remotely.

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2. Create a salary model that rewards people for getting stuff done, not just for showing up.

If you have the right people in place, you need to handle these people in the right way. A remote work environment should encourage performance -- not presence.

When you have a remote-work team, you don’t have to worry as much about time off, vacation days, sick days, etc. You are simply looking for high-performers who can get stuff done.

The startup culture is not for clock-punchers anyway, so you’re probably already ahead of the game here.

3. Do not create a meeting culture.

Most meetings are unnecessary. If you want to go remote, do not depend on physically-present meetings.

Meetings, in some form, are important. Many times, you simply can’t make effective decisions unless you hold a meeting. But there’s a difference between a meeting culture and holding meetings. If you need meetings, there are plenty of free online services that will help you do it. For example, at my company we use Join.me or Skype, which allows us to communicate and hold meetings without needing to be in an office.

4. Go paperless.

Most businesses have already “gone paperless” to a large degree. If you want to ensure that your office can go anywhere, then all your storage needs to be omnipresent in the cloud.

Every business needs to have some real pieces of paper, such as articles of incorporation, and other important documents. Few businesses, however, need to have large filing cabinets full of paper. Apart from significant exceptions such as libraries, doctor’s offices, etc., it’s better to digitize everything paper that you can.

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5. Sell digital goods and services.

The most remote-friendly businesses are those that have absolutely zero physical deliverables.

The present and future of our knowledge worker industry is built upon the power of software, services, consulting, technology and thought. While there is still a need for manufacturing, it’s wise to consider a service or product that is entirely digital.

If you’re still in the brainstorming phase of your business ideation, and you want to go 100 percent remote, keep this in mind. Digital goods and services allow you and your team to live anywhere and be anywhere, and still do great work.

6. Live where you work best.

What area of the world, what environment, what culture will enable you to do your best work?

I know entrepreneurs who love the buzz of the big city. There is something energizing and powerful about being surrounded by millions of people, world-changing cultural forces, high-powered professionals and plenty of amenities.

Other entrepreneurs do their best work away from everything. A cabin in Montana might be their best place to dream, to do and to deliver amazing results (just as long as the Internet is fast enough).

A lot of people mistakenly think that remote work is being able to work from anywhere. That’s only part of it. The key to remote work is living where you work best. Remote workers still have to work. Your environment does impact how you work. Thus, it’s only sensible and wise to live in an area where you can do your best work.

Conclusion

Since I’m an inveterate traveler, remote work is obviously a great option for me. Apart from the occasional meetings, I don’t need to be anywhere in particular.

But I do need to work -- and hard. As I’ve launched and scaled businesses, I’ve seen the power of remote work. It can change everything, allowing you to unleash creativity, huge amounts of work and an incredible amount of power.

What have you done to take your startup remote? 

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