Don’t Fear Remote Work — It’s Helping My Startup Scale a Lot Faster

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As the pandemic continues through 2021 and likely into 2022, thanks to a slow rollout of vaccinations and new variants emerging worldwide, companies must face the reality that a significant portion of the workforce will continue to operate remotely. Some companies are embracing this new model, while others are hesitant and actively working on their return-to-office plans. Tech companies like Dropbox, Facebook, and Twitter are allowing some employees to work remotely permanently. Meanwhile, enterprises like Salesforce, Hubspot, and SAP are going the hybrid work route.

While the future of work is most likely going to be a combination of in-office and location-flexible, all companies will have to adapt. The good news is that remote work isn’t something to fear. In fact, there are many upsides.

At Ryu Games, we’re a growing startup founded and based in the Bay Area. Pre-pandemic, we had already hired a development team in Japan, which is pretty typical. Many companies hire remote development teams while basing their primary operations in the US. However, the pandemic shifted our position on hiring for roles that would typically be on site, such as graphic designers.

In the last few months, we’ve hired two additional developers and one graphic designer in Japan and Russia. Among some of our new hires are people who can write but can’t speak English well, so we’ve needed to get creative in our communication methods and tools — which has truly been to the benefit of our team. The people we’ve hired are exceptionally talented.

Pre-pandemic, we were primarily looking at a local talent pool, but the shift to long-term remote work has enabled us to open our search to find the right people for our business, no matter where they are. Most importantly, we’ve learned how to grow and adapt in a remote-friendly world. Here’s why it works:

Support Communication and Collaboration Across the Globe

Effective remote communication is the foundation of an effective workforce, regardless of whether you’re in person or distributed. But in the remote-work model, knowledge sharing, collaboration, and team bonding can fall by the wayside if people are only getting to know each other through messaging platforms like Slack.

Don’t get me wrong. Slack is incredibly useful for remote teams, especially when language barriers and time zone differences can be challenging to navigate. However, people working remotely may also find it difficult to share their input, suggest improvements, or participate in brainstorming sessions on a chat platform. Managers can also find it hard to gauge the openness and transparency of feedback in chat.

So, in addition to chat-based communications, we also use face-to-face video calls through Zoom and Remotion. Each communication channel serves a different purpose. Video provides a dynamic space for cross-team collaboration, whereas we find chat messaging allows inter-team discussions to be more efficient. We’ve fully adopted both video and chat into our best practices with great results. We even host a bi-weekly game using Zoom to build community among our team members.

Run Efficient Meetings With Recorded Videos

How do you handle meetings in a distributed environment? Perhaps your designers are in Russia and your engineers are in Japan, like ours. In this situation, it takes extra effort to set goals and expectations and manage across teams.

To facilitate better meetings for our distributed team, we’ve adopted the video platform Loom, which enables us to record and share video messages. Meeting synchronously isn’t always possible, so we find that sending asynchronous video messages through Loom can be incredibly useful. For instance, you could share feedback on UX designs or help solve an engineering issue by capturing and sending your feedback in a prerecorded message rather than trying to type it all out in an email or Slack message. Prerecorded video has been a great discovery for us during this shift to remote work.

The Long-Term Benefits of Staying Remote

We at Ryu Games are embracing the internationally distributed team model for the long haul. In many ways, this model has increased productivity and efficiency for our startup, where the bottom line always counts. We’ve been able to hire and onboard workers outside the US, from regions where talent is more plentiful and the cost of living is lower compared to many parts of the US. This gives us the option to consider building a bigger team sooner than we would have been able to if we had solely hired boots-on-the-ground Bay Area residents.

Whether you’re an enterprise organization or a startup business, you can build an effective remote workforce by adapting the core elements of productive workforces to the new best practices and technologies of today. It’s time to embrace the blended workforce.

Ross Krasner is the cofounder and CEO of Ryu Games.

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By Ross Krasner