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The tough side of running a remote business

Remote work has been on the rise for the past few years and there are plenty of reasons why. Remote businesses save money on operational costs, employees are more productive with autonomy, and job seekers are consistently considering remote work as an important perk. With these benefits in mind, starting a remote business might seem like a good business venture, however, it’s important to recognize that there are some hurdles that come with running a remote business. If you’re new to the business world, understanding these challenges can help you avoid potentially fatal business mistakes. Here’s what you need to know:

Relinquishing control

When you’re just starting a business, chances are you want your hands in every aspect of the business. This is totally natural. You want to make sure the early stages of your company are equipped with the best possible foundation. However, when you run a remote business, there’s no way around it: you’ve got to relinquish some level of control.

If you tend to hover as a management style, you’re in for some trouble. Offices help management retain control and without being a box that control is effectively eradicated. However, you can turn this into a positive thing. Place more emphasis on hiring great employees you can trust and fully embody the “hire slow, fire fast” methodology.

Ignoring the right tools

Running a remote business means you rely on technology and tools to power your operations (check out our list of the best home office gadgets). As such, avoid opting for the “free” or “freemium” versions of those tools. Try out different project management platforms and communications channels to determine what works best for you. If you need a lot of computing power, you should also look into wholesale colocation to manage your current and future technology needs and help your business scale in the long-run.

Building company culture

Company culture isn’t just reserved for offices. As a remote company, you still have to build company culture—and you have to work twice as hard to do so. You can build company culture in remote teams by hosting virtual events and activities, putting together an annual company retreat, and encouraging watercooler chat on your communication platform.

With company culture in mind, remember to consider the culture you’re trying to cultivate during the hiring process. Don’t just hire for talent—hire for the best possible team fit, too. When you hire with other employees in mind, you’re increasing the chances of building your culture even more and creating a cohesive team that works well together and enjoys a sense of camaraderie.

Emphasize previous remote experience

Unfortunately, there can be a stark difference between a great employee and a great remote employee. Just because a candidate looks great on paper doesn’t mean that they’ll do just as great in a new situation where they’re charged with managing their own work day and routine without any interference. Hire people who have previous remote experience, have worked on their own personal projects, or who clearly demonstrate a strong ability to work independently.

Ignoring burnout

You might fear that remote workers won’t put in the hours, but the truth is, remote workers often work harder than their in-office counterparts and are more likely to suffer from burnout. Pay attention to signs of burnout in your employees. These signs include a decreased quality of work, a level of disengagement that’s uncharacteristic of them, and less productivity.

The fact is, your employees could be having a hard time creating a work-life balance and may be working overtime to achieve business goals, which can make them feel as if they have to consistently maintain that level of productivity. If you notice this, go out of your way to speak to them and talk to everyone about work-life balance. Create clear lines and boundaries that force them to log off and not overwork themselves.

Photograph by Sarah Pflug