Laurynas Pletkus
Laurynas Pletkus

Tips to Keep in Mind when Running a Fully Remote Business

June 14, 2019
5 min read
Tips to Keep in Mind when Running a Fully Remote Business

Operating a business can be an incredibly hard task.

Even more so when you are doing it remotely without physically meeting all of your clients.

However, working full-time off-site does come with its own set of advantages.

A remote workforce usually works from home, or more commonly, from a co-working space and enjoys the benefits of less overheads and other types of costs. In turn, the employees are more flexible in their work and have a different approach to office culture.

Operating a business remotely can be a smart and effective way to cut costs and grow your brand.

All this, while not losing out on clients and other advantages of a traditional office environment. If anything, being fully remote exposes you to a wider variety of clients worldwide – as you’re not limited in terms of who you can work with.

Remote work has many benefits and as office culture is changing, just about everything can now be done remotely in a digital way. From sharing files to conference calls, you don’t need to physically be in the same room anymore. Getting everyone ready in one room at the same time can be more time-consuming than getting on a quick Skype call.

At Scale3C, we are based in Lithuania but we work with international clients – from the U.S. to the U.K., France, and other countries. We firmly believe in flexible and remote work and the time-zone difference hasn’t been a particularly difficult obstacle for us.

Virtual communication can be just as effective as face-to-face, as we learned from talking with Simon Anderson – one of our key clients living and working in Salt Lake City (U.S.).

Here are a number of other things we learned from the experience of running a fully remote business.

Importance of Communication

There is nothing more important than having the foundations of communications organised while working remotely.

Communication is arguably one of the biggest challenges people might have when thinking about working remotely. Once you establish consistent guidelines of how and when you’ll be working with your clients (and your team), you’ll find that the process becomes a lot smoother.

The time-zone difference, in particular, might seem daunting when doing business with international clients. When you have a 10 hour time difference with your client, you might think it would be hard to keep up with your communications.

When we sat down with two of our key clients from the U.S., however, we were thrilled to see our communication efforts had paid off.

Scale3C Meeting with Jesse Robinson of Getch Foundation
“Yes, you are overseas, but I have never experienced any issues while trying to set up a call with you or get the bugs fixed. You are always very flexible with time… There is a bit of the time difference, but honestly, I would hardly call that an issue. Maybe for some people, it might be an issues not being able to talk to your team face to face, but for me, face to face is less important, technology is so good these days when it comes to virtual communication.”  – Jesse Robinson on the challenges of working with a remote development agency.

We found that though the time-zone difference can be challenging at first, being flexible when it comes to meetings is an easy way to plan ahead. Sometimes this might mean coming in earlier than usual or staying a bit later, but it’s definitely doable as long as you’re consistent with your meetings.

Once you set up your communication channels with your clients, you’ll find just how smooth your meetings can be. To keep it simple, create a separate communication channel for video calls, a separate one for emergencies where you’d be available all day, and another one (usually emails) to recap and cover weekly tasks.

This way, you’ll be more flexible with your clients, and they’ll know when and where to reach you if they need you.

Time is an essential asset and when you have specific channels for your communications, you’ll find that the weekly team meetings will become much more productive and less of a chore.

Planning is key

Planning out meetings across different time zones become an essential part of your schedule once you find out how to communicate in the most efficient way possible.

Afterwards, to make sure everything goes as planned, you need to be consistent within your time management and organisation.

For this, our approach is different with each client but our values are the same.

Essentially, we create a roadmap, document each step and a task during the way, and follow it thoroughly, while still having the room to make changes.

Flexibility is the core of how we handle things as we tend to adjust to the client’s needs and practices.

Here is what that process usually looks like:

  1. First, we brainstorm together to get an idea of the desired product.
  2. We then explore possible technologies and solutions to create the vision and how we’ll get there.
  3. Based on that, we match the best talent who can fulfil those specific needs to the project and create a backlog of the first sprints.
  4. During the weekly sprints, we give daily status updates and create a constant feedback loop with the client on the progress. Each week consists of shippable increments and is followed with quality assurance when the QA specialist and a UX/UI designer validates the deliveries.
  5. Finally, we have a final review of everything and release the final product with the client’s permission.

Though our “formula” to each project-organization tends to be the same, we also realize that each client is different with their own set of unique needs. This is why our practice is built around their needs and we are always available each step of the way. During which, we keep things clean and clear in our documentation and track everything without any unnecessary bureaucracy.

Adaptability is also important here and it’s a good idea to have a back-up plan in case things go wrong. You can’t be ready for everything, no matter how well you plan, there might always be certain unforeseen variables along the way.

The team matters

Like when communicating with a client, it’s just as important to have the same approach to your internal communications and work culture. If you’re working remotely and your team is close all day, it’s essential to have high morale and a strong sense of work culture.

How you communicate when you’re not working reflects your attitude when working on a project. It’s important to get a sense of everyone’s personalities and how they react to different situations.

It’s the relationship between team members that creates a true company culture and when everyone feels natural communicating with each other. For this reason, you might have to put in extra work to make everyone feels more connected and real.

Apps like Slack and Google Hangouts help but it’s just as important to create a meaningful bond face-to-face in a physical environment when possible.

Scale3C Slack channel communications screenshot

If you’re working with a startup and don’t have a lot of employees, it’s somewhat easier to create a sense of culture. Though, this also means you have to make sure you’re hiring the right people each time. Having people who are passionate about the project is the key, especially if you want your company to stand-out.

For this, meetups can be a great way to bring the whole team close, not only on projects but when working together as well. Interpersonal relationships shared by all the team members are just as important outside the office.

Scale3C team meeting outside office meetup

Every meetup we’ve held has brought the team closer, both inside and outside work. How we keep progressing and growing together is a testament to that. Any obstacles we find along the way brings us together and being able to communicate effortlessly is the key to problem-solving.

If you would like to find out more about us and what the 3C stands for – be sure to read the story behind Scale3C

Collaboration

In short, being fully remote has its advantages and it’s important to capitalize on them.

Collaborations are an essential characteristic of any healthy organization. Culture drives collaborative practices among individuals, teams, and the working relationship with the clients.

As a result, teams are more likely to see greater communication and overall success. Start with making sure everyone is on the same page – both in terms of their work approach and so that they’re a right fit within the team as well.

Once you have the right communication guidelines down, everything else follows naturally. Ultimately, organizations are about people and their success lies in the successful execution within their collaboration.