Radically remote: 5
Insights on thriving under a remote-first culture and navigating the challenges that come with change
Hiring a global workforce: How to find the right fit
Whether we’ve met or not, it probably comes as little surprise to hear that I’m a people-driven person. After all, I’ve spent the last decade building a business based on connection – it’s at the heart of what I do.
But here at Buyapowa, going radically remote has reshaped the way we connect forever. Instead of flocking to an office, our team is now peppered across the globe. We brainstorm on Zoom, chat via Slack and tuck into cocktails at virtual office parties.
It’s been a positive and powerful transition in so many ways, not least because we’ve ditched our soul-sapping commutes and gained better balance in our lives. But of course, challenges have also reared their heads. Thanks to COVID, the vast majority of us have worked remotely on and off over the last two years. But doing it long term can be a shock to the system, and it simply isn’t for everyone. Loneliness, the struggle to unplug and mental health issues are just some of the most common struggles.
The upshot? From a business perspective, we’ve had to rethink the way we hire. And it’s down to us to seek out those people who will thrive in our brave new world. Here are a few of the lessons we’ve learnt along the way….
Passionate and proactive
Passion and enthusiasm have always been high on our wish list (along with every other employer) but remote working makes them even more vital. There’s nothing worse than steering a big Zoom stand-up and being the lone voice in the virtual room. More than ever, we need a blend of talents who are outgoing, charismatic and who grasp every opportunity to get stuck in.
It might sound brutal, but we’ve discovered it’s no longer enough for a candidate to be awesome at their job. Can they handle our remote work culture and what can they bring to the table? Will they organise virtual gaming sessions, or go the extra mile for our weekly company quiz? Will they knock on a new colleague’s virtual door and suggest they hang out with a cup of coffee? These things might sound trivial, but when your team is scattered far and wide, they can make or break.
Of course, remote working can be isolating and we’ve definitely noticed that introverts can have a tendency to creep further into their cave. The employees that thrive are those who enjoy networking and building those virtual relationships. It’s better if they don’t solely rely on work for their social life though – if that’s the case, our radically remote culture makes us a poor match.
When working remotely, trust matters more than ever too. Without a line manager hovering over your shoulder, it’s all too easy to get sucked into doing piles of laundry, or browsing social media. Many employees admit they are more distracted than ever.
At Buyapowa we don’t believe in using tech to keep tabs on people’s activity, but we do need a team who will be accountable for their productivity. And we ask staff to be uber responsive when it comes to communication too – time zones permitting, lack messages and emails need to be answered quickly.
We’ve discovered that the lack of in-person IT infrastructure can also be a sticking point. Will a candidate be happy setting up their own laptop and system, or will they struggle to get by without a tech team at their beck and call? Will an Internet glitch or a software hiccup send them spinning into a panic?
We need self-motivated self-starters now more than ever, but that’s not to say we don’t offer support. We invest in giving everyone the proper kit for their home office, from decent lighting to microphones for video calls. And we provide orthopedically correct chairs too because a staggering 81% of desk workers have had back, neck or shoulder pain since working from home.
For us, it’s not just about giving the team the tools to be as productive as possible, it’s about looking after their well-being too. Of course, being remote doesn’t have to mean working from home either – if an employee wants to use a local co-working space, we’ll support them every step of the way.
Going the extra mile
With The Great Resignation in full swing, we’ve taken on board that we need to overinvest in training and development too. While we actively recruit solution-orientated people, who thrive without a boss guiding their every step, there’s no doubt that our remote structure makes it harder to learn by observation.
So, we’ve plugged the gap by ploughing the money we save on leases back into the team. In addition to company-wide coaching, everyone has their own personal budget, to spend on third party training. And this definitely pays dividends. Our team feels valued and engaged, which drives staff stability too. The competition for talent is fiercer than ever, and employees want to work for a business that nurtures their growth and development, as well as their wellbeing.
Ultimately though, each time we recruit a new team member we need to look them in the eye and ask, ‘Is remote working really for you?” If they are the right fit, they’ll understand that it may have its challenges, but it has enormous benefits.
Gideon’s been leading digital brands for over 20 years. He’s proud to have built and businesses for the likes of Universal, HMV and LetsBuyIt.com, but right now he’s busy helping other brands acquire new customers in an altogether smarter way. He’s the Founder and CEO of Buyapowa (https://www.buyapowa.com/), and they’re the world leaders in reward marketing, and their platform powers customer acquisition for over 200 leading enterprise brands across 27 countries and in 21 languages.