10 March 2017
Many people blame the downfall of Yahoo on Marissa Mayer. Several points can be argued along many lines, from the introduction of Me TOO products like a Netflix type television network to the poor restructuring of Yahoo mail to the several layoffs and company reshuffles. But many place the blame on the decision she took to shut down the remote working options for the company. She claimed that Yahoo staff needed to be physically together to communicate and feed off each other creatively and to boost productivity. She said she wanted to make “One Yahoo”. If she had kept this work option open, would Yahoo have been able to stem the hemorrhaging of costs and keep employee satisfaction consistent without making them rebels against the system and brand? Perhaps, but let us look at Remote teams and the benefits and flexibility it allows and how to ensure it works as a system of organisational structure. Many blame the downfall of Yahoo on the decision taken to shut down its remote working options.... Remote working teams is not a new concept. It evolved from the work at home experiments that start-ups and tech firms started toying around with to ensure higher employee satisfaction in their jobs, creativity and productivity. While this gave employees greater freedom to work from the office or any place they felt comfortable, it also meant restructuring employee communication systems, information security, tracking time spent and even productivity. These problems trickled down in to the remote team systems as well. Thus, making them prohibitive to easy adoption. However, as the corporate world evolved and the world kept getting smaller thanks to improved technological infrastructure, remote teams began to become more cost effectively viable. Many companies have adopted a BPO model of remote work outsourcing which has proved successful in maintaining or expanding a business with significant value addition with less domestic cost outlay. So, you are probably considering remote work systems if you have come this far into the article J. Well, there are 3 ways to go about it, one is the BPO model as mentioned above or the remote department model which we at Gapstars have adopted or the distributed resource model which brings workers together digitally as they work from home in a flexible environment. Whether you are a budding start up or a well-established company seeking to grow its operations, domestic in house expansion can become prohibitive due to several factors: Competitive business sector Highly skilled customer service requirements Lack of skilled individuals Unfavourable labour laws in home country Demanding employee standards High cost of work space or work equipment The above and many other factors can make growth restrictive and cause a company to stagnate and eventually die. With remote teams, this does not have to happen. As the world kept getting smaller thanks to improved technological infrastructure, remote teams became more cost effectively viable. As mentioned prior in the article, improvements in technological infrastructure have made the globe smaller and communication and tracking easier. This coupled with the advent of workflow management and tracking systems has made remote working far easier than the early days. Technology improvements have also led to countries like Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia growing into hotbeds for talented, qualified individuals in highly skilled engineering and IT fields. Also, these countries have a lower cost of living than those in the West and have more options for low cost office space and equipment purchase. Not to mention progressive laws for foreign firms to set up shop and increase job opportunities with concessions on tax and company registrations. All this combined makes remote working teams an extremely compelling option for companies in the West looking to expand without going bankrupt. How do you keep in touch with a remote team? Well we have apps and tools for that now. Every penny you save in physical assets and infrastructure can be spent in providing robust communication and work management tools so that your work force can connect with each other seamlessly and monitor the projects and tasks. Notable tools to check out include but are not limited to: For Project Management: Trello Process Street Pipefy Restya For Work communications: Hip Chat Slack Gitter Google hangouts Email and Cloud: Team Drive Sales Force Microsoft Office 365 All the above have either free or trial versions that can be tested to see which fits your flow and processes best. Some are even customisable. As with any process or organisational structure, remote working does have its challenges. One of the main issues is the fact that most people are used to working in an office environment. So even though they have a wealth of experience and skills in the field, they may not be able to handle working on their own from home or remotely ungoverned. Within the remote department model that Gapstars adopts, this problem is not encountered as staff work out of a centralised remote office with all the same benefits and facilities as the international home office. This way, employees used to a more conventional work process or environment can congregate, work & collaborate as normal. This also does not limit the pool of talent you can hire from as you are giving them the structure and professional environment they require to be productive. Communication no matter how good the tool is will always face hurdles. Time zone differences, cultural barriers, working styles and local labour laws will all play a factor in the cohesion, flexibility and timeliness of a remote team. Be prepared to have several orientations for new markets, employees and related to ensure a conflict free team of global employees. Establishing contingencies and standard operating procedures to ensure employees are prepared for any event is crucial. Lastly, as your company will be working on a distributed model, ensure that security and backups are updated daily to ensure that services or work do not get interrupted when there is a failure inconveniencing customers. Have you been convinced to give remote working a try? Check out the Gapstars community site to see more about our remote working teams and whether it is the right fit for you. Have something to add to the above? Comment or email us direct with your feedback and questions, we would love to hear from you.