Before the pandemic, remote-first culture was primarily linked with technology enterprises that employed worldwide talent under loosely defined remote-friendly conditions.
According to a Gartner Inc. global poll, 88% of organizations worldwide forced or encouraged all employees to work from home as the virus spread exponentially.
Additionally, almost 97% of organizations promptly suspended all work-related travel.
Once the alien term remote-first soon became the talk of the town!
But what is it? And how can organizations benefit from it?
This article will walk you through the details of remote-first company culture and the remote best practices that organizations may use to promote a remote-first work culture.
A remote-first prioritizes remote work for most employees, if not all.
In such a case, employees can operate from a remote location, such as a home office or co-working space.
In contrast to remote-only companies, remote-first companies maintain physical office space.
For example, it is offered to employees who need or prefer a typical office setting away from home.
These companies foster a remote-first culture, establishing workplace flexibility as the standard rather than an exception.
After knowing the benefits of work-from-home, companies like Coinbase, Dropbox, Twitter, Shopify, Spotify, Tata Steel, and Facebook/Meta have permanently embraced the smudging benefits of work-from-home models.
If your next question—is remote-first, the same as remote-friendly, let's clear the air around it.
Working outside the primary office or corporate site is the default way of operation in a remote-first workplace.
It is not the same as a "remote-friendly" company.
A remote-friendly company often allows some workers to work from home for various reasons but performs most daily activities in person.
Remote-friendly companies encourage employees to work outside the corporate office for some days.
The opposite is true: a remote-first company expects its employees to work full-time away from the office.
The year 2020 introduced us to remote-first.
But that was not all.
We see the trend continuing in 2021 and 2022.
If stats are to be believed, by 2025, approximately 70% of the workforce will be remotely operating for five days, at least five days a month.
But why do businesses employ a remote-first work approach?
To achieve short and long-term business objectives!
These include business continuity, lesser employee turnover, reduced expenses, employee wellbeing, and long-term adaptation and flexibility.
Let's look at the benefits of remote-first in no particular order.
Companies can promote adaptability and expansion options with a remote-first culture, particularly in unforeseen events.
Companies can also enforce hiring, new technology, and electronically arrange for more office space with a remote-first strategy.
It places them on a more viable route for corporate growth.
Due to the transformation, numerous businesses that have shifted to remote work in response to the epidemic have claimed overall increased productivity.
According to an Upwork poll, 32.2 percent of recruiting managers believe their overall productivity has grown since they began working remotely.
This increase in productivity is attributable to the elimination of commuting and various other roadblocks and diversions.
A remote-first culture fosters more inclusion and robust virtual culture inside businesses that follow this strategy. It also contributes significantly to developing a more favorable workplace branding image.
Businesses that adopted a remote-first strategy saw considerable reductions in overall operational expenses.
Stanford University discovered that a company that adopted the remote work model saved an astounding $2,000 per person in rent expenditures.
Remote-first companies benefit from an inherent advantage in access to top talent and lower employee turnover rates.
According to Stanford research, switching to remote work resulted in a 50% reduction in employee attrition.
Because remote work results in increased employee satisfaction, fewer employees will quit the organization, indicating that the benefit is favorable to both employers and employees.
Again, the rationale is pretty straightforward.
It's the most efficient method of integrating remote work into your business.
As more teams move to remote work, large organizations, in particular, are attempting to become more remote-friendly, to the point where they are renowned for having an excellent remote culture and being remote-first.
Now, let's look at some of the remote-first best practices that a company may use.
Asynchronous communication is one of the most critical components of a thriving remote-first culture.
In contrast to onsite work, remote-first companies necessitate employees working from various places and even time zones.
To ensure that all employees are informed about what is going on in the organization, it is critical to have systems and tools that allow equal and timely access to all meetings, papers, and conversations.
Companies that successfully apply this strategy can keep track of all virtual meetings.
It will allow all the employees working in different time zones and locations to stay updated with the changes conveniently.
As a result, the companies assure inclusion and equitable access to all team discussions and decisions.
When people and teams pursue a significant objective, they must all work towards a common goal.
For example, shoulder pats and quick check-ins are not practical for a distributed team, where intimate collaborators work across multiple borders.
It is thus critical to foster a culture of documentation where you can record everything to benefit yourself in the future.
Clear and concise documentation enables remote employees to work more freely. Moreover, they don’t have to wait for their senior or manager to respond about accomplishing anything.
In collaborative projects, documentation can act as a source of facts and a living record constantly improved by the community.
Several critical areas warrant the existence of organized and accessible documentation:
It is also critical to record choices and next steps in writing with informal and formal documentation.
We understand it’s tough to schedule live workplace events and continue the casual dialogue regularly.
Fortunately, there are many virtual tools to provide a comparable experience.
You can employ techniques to boost colleague bonding through work-unrelated interests with virtual chat applications.
Teams that can't schedule frequent in-person gatherings might utilize specialized channels in workplace chat software to resort to casual talks.
When designing these spaces, they must opt for a shared location in their company's virtual workspace.
It will facilitate secure, remote-first, real-time chats and file sharing.
One of the perks of a highly fragmented workforce is that personnel work across many regions, time frames, and nationalities.
While it may not be the case for many businesses, this gives an edge to global corporations.
It also minimizes border interruptions like natural calamities, political rallies, or catastrophic events like COVID-19 that affect everyone.
Moreover, 24/7 availability is vital in supporting clients in businesses operating today.
Infringements can occur anytime, including on weekends (when you operate under the IT team, you know the chaos).
On the one hand, planning and scheduling guarantee that someone is always technically available to respond.
On the other hand, the workforce flexibility policy allows individuals to work when they are most productive—whether late in the evening or on the weekend.
Further, when you have solid documentation and distribution mechanisms in place, personnel are free to focus on outcomes instead of the time on the dial.
While this method will need some tweaking for most companies, it will undoubtedly benefit employee motivation and happiness for all types of businesses.
Teams who attempt to socialize remotely without a clear understanding of how and where communication should happen result in
As a result, the success of a remote-first culture is heavily reliant on centralized socialization routes.
The unexpected shift to remote work at the start of the epidemic prompted many companies to recognize that email might not be the most effective communication medium for distant teams.
Companies should emphasize the need for a centralized, single communication channel with various features.
It will foster a cohesive culture resistant to information loss to avoid the frequent dangers of remote-first workplace culture.
However, a tool won't do anything unless used in conjunction with a transparent procedure.
Remote-first enterprises must have a socialization stack and standards to manage communication in addition to the tools.
Want to build a robust culture and don’t know where to start?
While frequent in-person gatherings are limited to location and time zone, you must foster functional remote-first cultures through regular virtual meetings.
Depending on their size, companies can regularly organize team- or company-wide casual get-togethers.
Taking advantage of these opportunities is the best way to encourage employees to have more open communication and improve employee relationships.
So, to substitute frequent in-person water-cooler discussions and create a team spirit community mindset, put up weekly virtual happy hours, check-ins, or game evenings.
A remote-first strategy necessitates
to ensure a productive and healthy virtual culture.
Although remote-first promotes a more informal and seemingly effortless working environment, the physical separation of coworkers can lead to stress, isolation, and other mental health difficulties.
Organizations can offer various wellness programs to prevent more serious mental health issues and better support for remote workers.
The remote-first communities often provide stipends for wellness programs to promote mental and physical health.
Workplace chat applications enable you to share mental health resources and organize workshops to help remote employees manage stress better.
Companies must provide distributed teams with equal technological and material resources to establish a sense of fairness and solidarity within a remote-first paradigm.
And don't make workers who are transitioning to remote work feel like they have to compromise on the quality of their work, equipment, or overall wellbeing.
Working from home necessitates a robust, centralized information base.
This form of work structure supports the optimal functionality of all procedures.
Companies that want to build and sustain a rich remote-first culture should create a comprehensive knowledge hub that documents
and makes them available to all teams online.
In addition, an excellent centralized information system can prevent companies from losing money.
The average employee spends more than half of their working hours looking for files.
And paperwork, among other regular duties, cost the US economy $1.8 trillion in lost revenue.
Therefore, prioritize written content since it is easier to search, more permanent, and provides for more efficient communication and information access.
A survey by Growmotely found that 61% of employees prefer working fully remote after this pandemic. Now that you have clarity on the remote-first company, benefits, and best organizational practices, you can determine which direction your company may want to go.
We have penned down the best practices for remote-first organizations that will help them and their employees thrive and sustain in the long run.
What do you think?