For decades, the ability to work from home was the holy grail of fringe benefits. But times have changed, and — especially in light of recent events — remote work is less of a sought-after perk and more of an operational standard.
In fact, it has become increasingly difficult to find a company that has not adopted some kind of flexible work policy. According to some estimates, as many as 66 percent of companies now allow some form of remote or flexible work.
The rising popularity of remote work isn’t just great news for workers — it’s also great news for entrepreneurs looking to scale their businesses.
After all, the ability to scale successfully has always depended on creating a strong foundation to handle an uptick in sales, work, or output. Remote work offers just such a foundation: Companies large and small can scale their businesses without being stymied by issues like talent scarcities and office space.
Still on the fence? Here are four key ways a remote workforce can help you scale your business today:
1. Reducing Overhead
When companies start to scale, fixed costs can skyrocket thanks to the need to pay for more equipment, office space, and furniture, along with employee benefits. The resulting financial strain can be devastating for a growing business still working toward profitability.
With a remote workforce, however, maintaining an office space that can accommodate every employee becomes unnecessary. That can save you a lot on overhead. Case in point: American Express saved $10-15 million on real estate costs alone by allowing more employees to work remotely.
When operational costs are cut, that leaves more room in the budget for the thing that really matters to scaling: hiring skilled employees who can deliver the value your company needs. Plus, a distributed team model gives an organization the ability to hire employees quickly without worrying whether the right infrastructure is in place to support the growth.
2. Access to More Talent
In addition to cutting overhead, remote work grants your company access to a wider pool of qualified applicants. Rather than being limited to local talent, your company can hire anyone, anywhere. The developer you need may be nestled in the UK, while an amazing virtual assistant resides on the California coast — and you can hire both of them. Recruiting becomes less about location and more about skill sets, personalities, and the ability to deliver real value.
Plus, research shows that flexible work options are a highly attractive benefit to today’s workers. When you hire remotely, you don’t just expand your talent pool — you also capture the attention of more candidates. That’s powerful, especially for companies in industries or locations suffering from significant skills shortages.
For more expert recruiting advice, check out the latest issue of Recruiter.com Magazine:
3. Better Work Results
Free from the confines of a traditional office, many employees find they are actually more productive, and therefore better able to handle the challenges that come with working for a scaling business.
The reason for that? When employees can manage their own priorities and work on their own schedules, they are free of the stresses produced by micromanagement and other office obstacles. Employees are able to work in the ways that are best for them, resulting in high-quality work, achieved company goals, and more new ideas on the table.
You can help increase productivity even further by focusing on employees’ deliverables and outcomes, rather than on what they’re doing and when. That will also save you some headaches: With a virtual team, it’s impossible to track every moment of an employee’s day, anyway.
Whole some more traditional company leaders are little skeptical of it, a results-only work environment (ROWE) could be the secret weapon to supercharging your team’s productivity. As its name suggests, in a ROWE, employees are evaluated only on their output — not according to how much time they put in every day. That empowers employees to pursue new ideas even more, to the benefit of your organization. Plus, that empowerment can also help boost retention, taking one more worry off your plate so you can keep focusing on scaling.
4. Better Leadership
When leaders make the shift from measuring attendance to measuring performance, they’re not just bettering their teams — they’re bettering themselves, too.
Many leaders, especially first-time founders who are new to scaling, have trouble delegating appropriately as a company grows. The ability to “scale yourself” as a manager is quite possibly the most critical challenge a leader faces as they seek to accelerate growth.
To successfully manage a distributed team, a leader has no choice but to embrace new habits around recruiting, hiring, employee performance, and people management. Leaders quickly learn how to manage and resolve conflicts while earning team trust. They learn the value of flexibility as it relates to project management. They learn the critical role they play in fostering a strong team culture. These skills are vital for any leader charged with scaling a business successfully.
If your company is on the cusp of scaling, developing a team of remote talent may be the catalyst you need to reach new heights. Combined with a strong culture and sound leadership, a distributed team structure improves your organization’s ability to scale effectively and sustainably.
Furthermore, as technology, best practices, and tools improve, the hurdles preventing many companies from fully embracing remote work will fall away. More and more companies will be able to enjoy the competitive advantage that comes with the freedom of remote work.
Tricia Sciortino is CEO of BELAY.