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Will COVID-19 Reshape the Startup Work Culture? Let us look at some of the reasons why work from home will become increasingly relevant in the future.

By Kewal Kapoor

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has forced companies to restructure their work culture, and employees are getting increasingly comfortable with telecommuting, and from the looks of it, it is here to stay. For a lot of startups, work from home is part and parcel of their work culture. Some build their team entirely remotely without a central or formal location. Let us look at some of the reasons why work from home will become increasingly relevant going forward.

Diversity in talent

The biggest advantage of remote teams is the flexibility it offers to tap into best talent or the job regardless of their location. Building a company in a distributed manner allows employers to leverage the best in the class. Not only that, building a team remotely also increases diversity in workforce. Greater flexibility, space to juggle multiple responsibilities, and an opportunity to do away with gender bias means that the trend is only going to pick up and transform not just work culture but also hiring policies.

Better labor cost management

Low labor costs can have significant impact on a startup's viability. Early venture rounds are designed to help founders find the right fit between the product and the market. Learning from developments and pivoting as per market requirements is crucial to avoid early burnout. The major cost for most startups at this stage is the salaries they have to pay to support technological development. With lower salaries, innovators have more time to experiment, which increases the probability of them coming up with a sustainable business model. While lower salaries do affect the bottom line, studies have shown that distributed models pay dividends on saved time and flexible work-life balance, which translates to a happy and productive workforce.

Global strength

If you are the founder of a startup, building a distributed team lets you operate efficiently across geographies. You have to come up with strategies to manage communication and entrust more autonomy on distant colleagues. This fosters a shared culture in the organization. If you want to expand internationally, you just have to scale up on the same skill sets. As a matter of fact, for a lot of startups, an increasingly global innovation market does not only offer a distinct strategic advantage, it is also essential for survival. The more flexible your internal organization, the more likely you are to succeed.

Better integration

All sectors are challenging the predominant notion that in-office presence and connectivity is irreplaceable. There are numerous examples of founders who have built their organizations in a distributed way from the very beginning. They operate without an official headquarter and it has not affected their performance and growth in any way. As a matter of fact, flexible distribution and an informal setup enables better connectivity as it decreases the barriers that come with an in-office setup and emphasizes live digital interactions. A distributed setup also allows companies to respond quickly to challenges, such as a lack of collaboration or a breakdown in communication.

Obstacles and challenges

Of course, there are challenges with a distributed setup. Hiring policies have to be modified to ensure that people who decide to come into the organization are comfortable with your telecommuting policies. Even though more and more startups expect their employees to develop the self-discipline and skills needed to work remotely, often for long stretches, employees also expect to be incentivized accordingly. Some organizations with a geographically distributed workforce expect employees from different regions to work different hours to improve efficiency and output. The shift to telecommuting will continue to grow as both companies and employees understand its benefits and adapt themselves to the model. While the coronavirus pandemic is certainly affecting regular work patterns in the short term, the only way to meet the challenge is to come up with migrate to a distributed setup already being adopted by some of the most innovative startups across the globe.
Kewal Kapoor

Director & Creative Strategist, CHAI Creative and Return of Million Smiles

With a successful and multi faceted career as a writer, journalist, producer and director behind him, Mr. Kewal Kapoor had just the appropriate cross-industry experience to make him an exceptional consultant and creative strategist. This versatility of experience led him to conceive CHAI Kreative & Advertising agency, a unique service provider that helps startups and new businesses lock in the right strategies and solutions to grow and flourish.

Parallel to this endeavor is his pursuit of actively fighting age discrimination and creating an amenable environment for the elderly by promoting their participation in social enterprise, communication and entrepreneurship. From this pursuit emerges his second major enterprise – the Return of the Million Smiles.

An avid reader and passionate writer who is proficient in Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi and English, Mr. Kewal Kapoor has conceptualized and created groundbreaking TV documentaries and shows including the first ever series on Tax Laws in India, the first Human Rights based show on Indian television and a programme on the Kargil martyrs. He served as the Executive Producer with a top notch Production house in Mumbai and has been a consulting partner with some of the top advertising agencies in India.

Since 2012, his focus has intensified towards work that creates genuine value in people’s lives. In 2017, he started CHAI Kreative and Advertising Private Limited which has crossed a turnover of Rs. 3.5 crore in a short span of time.

One of Kewal Kapoor's missions in life has been to create a life of health and dignity for the elderly.  With The Return of Million Smiles project, his objective of promoting dignified ageing has become a reality.

Employing technical solutions to create emotional wellbeing for the aged and making them an important part of the community living space is the vision. An impressive deal has already been frozen for which his company wishes to infuse capital in the coming financial year, with the positive goal of reaching some major markets abroad.

Mr Kapoor is also on the Advisory Board of The Poddar Foundation and has played a key role in launching the Mental Health brand "Silence Todo". 

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