Removing the need for a physical office space can drastically cut your operating costs. One business owner shares his experience of operating a 100 per cent virtual workforce.
As Mikel Lindsaar, founder of digital development firm reinteractive, says on the My Business Podcast, having your staff work remotely adds an extra challenge to your operations initially, but in his experience the benefits far outweigh any preliminary headaches.
“One of the things about any business – and I think this underlies any business’ success – is the level and quality of communication between the team. If you don’t have that level of communication, then no one will know what is going on,” Mikel says.
“With remote work, it adds a layer of complexity to that.
“[But] it was a really conscious choice to do that, because I don’t like working in an office, so we just made it work, and [there’s been] a lot of different learnings along the way.”
Part of that learning curve has been ensuring that all of his employees – who number just under 30 – are kept on the same page.
“The way we handle it is pretty simple – we use online tools such as Flowdock,” explains Mikel.
“A lot of people might have heard of something called Slack, which is an online chat collaboration tool, and we have a different room for every project that we are working on. In fact, we have two rooms for every project we are working on: we have an internal room and a client room, and we invite our clients into that room, and we talk to them and they are involved in the process.”
This process of documentation, according to Mikel, has delivered some unintended benefits.
“Because we can’t just lean across the table and talk to a staff member – we have to document what we are doing. [But] by being remote, it means we have to document more, which actually makes us more transparent to the customer … and they actually really like that,” he says.
“One of the most common compliments we get from a software development point of view is, ‘You’re so transparent – for the first time we can actually understand what you’re doing!’”
Mikel also says that, far from encouraging employees to shrug off their responsibilities, working remotely has actually enhanced their productivity – particularly for people in the creative fields.
“What I’ve really found is that it’s forced us to treat our staff like adults. Our development team also like that they can disconnect [to focus on the task at hand],” says Mikel.
“There are less random interruptions because it is more succinct.”
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.