Image by Keirsten Marie
People either love or hate remote work. You’ll hear stories of both success and failure with hiring remote teams, starting with companies growing from 5 to 1000 employees in a couple of months to seemingly promising businesses that fold amid their solid remote team setups.
But even with so much reading material about remote setups, many businesses don’t understand remote work in its entirety. Founders and employees alike often oversimplify the remote setup as a model that allows staff to work (or try) while feeding their cat or watching a movie. A misconception like this breeds even more misconceptions: remote workers are unsociable and lazy, on-site managers are agents of hell, offshore work is cheap and shabby -- the list goes on.
To prevent more misconceptions about remote systems, education on remote setups and how they work is important (our entire blog is for this purpose!). In this post, we’re shedding light on a few common myths on remote setups.
Myth #1: Remote work means working from home
Work done beyond the company’s office door is remote. It’s a big world out there; the area outside your company office covers a large scope. Your employee doesn’t necessarily need to be in a home office in the next city, or in a cafe down the block. They can be working in a co-working space on the opposite side of the globe.
Why would employees be working in an office when they could just work from home? "In many places in the world, work-from-home simply doesn't work," says Patrick Linton, founder of Bolton Remote. Different culture, different infrastructure, and consequently, different motivating factors make many employees more productive in an office.
One motivating factor is the need for interaction to stay productive. “When you have little social interaction (at home) it’s tough to benchmark your workday effectively,” says Alex Blunk of Farallon. “Whereas when you see Man-O-War building the next ‘over-night sensation’ right next to you—you perk up and do what it takes to cross that day’s finish line.”
Does this mean you shouldn’t hire remote workers from these countries? No, this means you have the option to work from home and hire people who work in offices. This means you can have a larger talent pool, because you have a wider variety of staff with different preferred work environments.
Myth #2: Anyone can be a remote worker
It takes a certain individual to be an effective remote employee, whether they’re working from home or from an office. “Effective remote work requires a high degree of diligence,” says Kevin P. Davis, a long-time remote worker.
And even if you have capable remote workers in your team, how effective they are still largely depends on your remote setup. Again, you have to consider their culture and their work environment; some might prefer working in an office than working from home. “There's a real need to physically separate from the rest of the home to enable you to retain focus on your work,” Kevin says. “Being extraordinarily productive from home is well more difficult than being in the office.”
Myth #3: Offshore hires don't deliver
One business’s offshore hiring experience is often unique to that business. So just because offshore hiring horror stories exist, that doesn’t mean offshore hiring is entirely bad. It can actually be a great hiring model for your growing business, if used properly.
How exactly do you make it work then? You have to clear a few barriers:
- Language Barrier. One key part to eliminating language barriers is not only screening your talent's language skills, but also actively putting effort into communicating clearly. “Use basic words that do not require interpretation or reinterpretation,” advises Karen Kwong, founder of Ren Organisational Consulting Ltd. “Ensure that you are clear in your own mind with the message that you want to convey before entering into the conversation.”After that, you need to establish effective communication systems. Think about how to show your team your plans, your processes, and your instructions. You can even use a wide variety of tools that allow you to communicate with your team constantly yet deliberately.
- Cultural Barrier. You can resolve “issues” with cultural differences much like most other issues you encounter when running a business -- with discipline, analysis, and adaptation. Understand your employees’ culture, what motivates them to perform, and how they make decisions. If you build systems, incentives, and processes around these different cultural factors, you’ll have better chances of working with an effective and motivated team.
What was your first impression of remote hiring? Is it different from your impression of it now? Tell us your story. We’d love to hear about it.
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