The remote startup: despite the taxing nature of Australia’s often draconian rules around the pandemic, the startup scene in this country is still very much alive. New startup numbers are down, yes. But perhaps by the very nature of being in one of the most locked-down countries in the world, is the remote startup model gaining traction.
First let’s look at the stats. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), new business startups were down in the last financial year. However, more startups were launched (344,000) than shut down (297,000).
There’s been a true dichotomy of activity across the startup landscape in Australia, throughout the pandemic.
Some have been spawned because of the pandemic (think tech)…
Some have died because of the pandemic (think travel)…
Since 2020 when the pandemic began, as the rules for how we work shifted dramatically to remote, every industry in the startup game had to shift. Startups weren’t left with a choice. For almost two years, it was ‘be the remote startup or shut the door’.
Today, we’re going to look at remote working for startups, and how navigate workforce management through remote and/or hybrid working.
The Remote Startup: Benefits
There are advantages to both the business and the workers in a remote startup scenario. And yes, most of us have experienced some downsides of remote working too. But for now, let’s focus on the business benefits of a remote team.
Higher Worker Retention
A survey by FlexJobs found that:
- 58% of workers said they would ‘absolutely’ look for a new job if they couldn’t continue to work remotely
- 65% said they wanted to remain remote working full-time, after the pandemic
- 33% of respondents wanted a hybrid working arrangement, split between remote working from home, and in the office
- 2% said they wanted to return to the office full-time
The key point here it is this: remote working may not be the absolute future for working in this country. But it sure is the present. So, if you want to attract talent that will stick around, consider a remote/hybrid working model.
Access to a Broader Scope of Talent
The very nature of the remote startup means your business doesn’t have to limit hiring to your local city or town. International talent awaits the opportunity to work with Australian organisations. And your business can exponentially explode the type, scope, and quality of talent by adopting a remote working model.
Despite this being the obvious perk for workers, it actually favours the employer as well. If, for example, you have workers in different time zones (either in Australia or internationally), a flexible working schedule will allow your business to operate for longer hours, expanding the opportunity for more revenue. You may also be able to meet the needs of workers who prefer night working, over daytime. The opportunities are aplenty.
The Remote Startup: Must-Do List
As you embark upon the idea of remote working for your startup, here are the key ‘must-dos’, if you are to make this model work.
Clear, consistent communication is imperative for your remote startup to succeed. Ideas to make this happen include:
- Team weekly kick-off meetings on Monday morning
- 1:1 meetings with individuals on a regular basis (weekly or fortnightly)
- Spontaneous catchups about both work and non-work matters
- Social meetings: Friday afternoon drinks or get-togethers don’t need to be in person
- Encourage team members to establish regular 1:1 meetings as well as project or team meetings (without the boss)
Most importantly, establish the communication program that’s right for your business, your workers, and your culture. Test different formats and go with the one that works best for you and your people.
A heavy emphasis on company culture is important in a remote startup scenario. You don’t have the luxury of a cool office, Friday bar, ping pong table or break-out areas. Instead, you’ll need to devise a culture by:
- Agreeing on company values
- Determining ways to bring those values to life
- Set a foundation of trust: easily established through reporting and regular communications
- Communicate the company values and goals clearly and with the opportunity for workers to question, test, affirm
- Have a remote working policy regarding hours worked, reporting and attending meeting
- Establish remote working rituals (see ‘Communication’ above)
- Collect feedback regularly
- Establish mentorship programs
Maintaining a sound remote startup culture is heavily reliant on virtual team-building activities. Culture is more than your office space. So, you need to be very specific about your startup’s vision, values and goals. Culture will also be heavily determined by your hiring decisions, and the communication practices you set in place.
This may sound like a no-brainer, but having the right systems, software, and hardware in place for your remote workers is crucial. And you must ensure this is successfully set-up for every worker, from day one.
Establish a proven, workable protocol when onboarding new talent for your remote startup. This is arguably the most crucial time for your business to ensure attachment to the role, with new workers.
This article by Harvard Business Review provides a comprehensive insight of what you must consider when onboarding remote workers.
One Final Word…
Establishing a remote startup need not be a stressful or concerning factor of your startup journey. Rather, with the right systems, processes, and support channels in place, you can commence your startup operation in an arguably more simplistic way. What’s most important to realise is this: remote work is not the same as office work, so don’t expect it to function in the same way. There’ll be challenges, but many benefits too. Keep in mind that everyone is different in their needs for the optimal working situation. And work to cater to these, wherever possible. We’re still living in a time of immense change. So being mindful of the potential need to pivot in the future, is a good plan.
As one of the world’s leading providers of contingent worker management solutions, CXC is well positioned to optimise all elements of your contingent workforce strategy. With operations in more than 50 countries across five continents and decades of experience, we can assist with every aspect of your program.