How Data and Tech Will Influence the Future of Remote Work for Startups
The last two years have seen a dramatic change in the way startups function. With more companies adopting technologically-advanced solutions to enable remote work, the current workspace is a decentralized, diverse, fast-paced environment.
Startups have the perfect opportunity to capitalize on a hybrid or remote workforce focused on getting work done, regardless of where it’s being done. Founders and leaders have the chance to reap the benefits of what McKinsey calls a “once-in-a-generation kind of disruption” by re-imagining the workforce.
McKinsey surveyed over 5,000 employees in 2021, and more than 52% of them wanted to work from home at least three days a week.
Given all this, let’s take a look at what the future of remote work looks like for startups.
The Future of Remote Work for Startups
1. A Technology-First Automated Workspace
Technology has evolved to facilitate working from anywhere. Regardless of the industry, you’re in, there are top-notch tools that can adapt to your work processes efficiently. These tools help startups and small teams with project management, expense management, collaboration, CRM, and other business functions.
The biggest benefit of online work tools and platforms is automation. Automation did have a role in the workplace pre-pandemic, but now it’s become a critical feature.
When startups are handling multiple projects remotely, there’s no time to go back and forth on mundane tasks. Automation on online platforms helps you store all the information you need on one platform and eliminates redundant tasks from your team’s workflow.
And you don’t need technical knowledge to create automation rules on the latest work tools. You simply fill in the details for an “if this, then that” automation, and it’s set up in a few minutes.
2. Flexible Working Methods
Employees want flexibility in the workplace to avoid burnout and be more productive. The McKinsey report shows that 52% of workers want a more flexible working model.
Flexible doesn’t have to mean remote. A startup could have an in-person team that works remotely for a couple of days per week. Or, they could go full-remote and have employees work from anywhere.
The desire to go back to a traditional in-office work model is waning, especially since flexible work environments are also beneficial for startups. It makes employees more productive, reduces operating costs, and gives them access to diverse talent while using employee monitoring software.
Flexibility also attracts top talent in a job market with plenty of demand and not enough supply. Korn Ferry’s recent study states that the talent shortage could result in $8.5 trillion in unrealized revenue by 2030.
Companies need to rethink their strategies on how to attract the best candidates, and a remote or hybrid work model plays a role.
Buffer’s 2021 report revealed that 96% of workers who didn’t work remotely before the pandemic now want to work remotely, at least partially, for the rest of their careers.
3. A Diverse and Multi-Talented Team
One of the biggest benefits of the current remote work system is gaining expert knowledge via online learning. They’re teaching themselves new skills, and startups can reap the benefits.
With infrastructure and travel out of the way, the masses can get curated expert content from resources like MasterClass. They gain valuable insights from the best of their industry and can use these insights to function better in a fast-paced startup.
While online learning has been present for a while, the key difference is that now there is a flood of information from actual experts. They aren’t learning things off Google and YouTube. They’re being taught by people who have proven success in that industry.
This depth of easily available information also makes remote hiring easier since startups can select from a pool of certified applicants from all around the world. Consequently, this introduces true diversity into the workplace.
4. Data Is Critical
In a remote startup, collecting and analyzing the correct data is vital for growth. When you’re focused on the wrong metrics, you can’t make accurate decisions.
Data actively promotes smarter decision-making and helps you discover why and how a trend or event is occurring. Online tools are great for this. They can collect data in real-time from multiple sources and provide predictive reports to help you better plan the future.
Jim Rich, global VP of sales for Sisense, explains the importance of asking the right questions of your analytics tools, saying:
“The thing is, everybody’s looking for the same stuff […] Truly exceptional companies are those that modify and pivot their KPIs based on a combination of macroeconomics, what’s happening in their industry, and identifying new KPIs that set them apart from the competition. Then you can do things differently and even counter-intuitively. It can make all the difference.”
Data collection doesn’t just apply to your company, but it also includes competitor research and industry analysis.
5. Increased Competition
With no borders to hold back organizations from competing in international markets, there’s bound to be an increase in competition. This is especially true for startups since anyone can start a business from their home.
Startups must prepare to outdo their competitors. One way to do this is to hire an expert product development team that can rapidly develop your startup. Typically, an organization like this employs expert designers, developers, and strategists to take your idea and convert it into a profitable, well-functioning product or service.
Content is another key tool that startups can use to make an impact in an increasingly competitive landscape. They can use SaaS content marketing strategies to reach audiences around the world.
When done right, content marketing helps you build authority, attract potential customers, give your brand a human voice, and boost customer loyalty.
The future of remote work calls for startups to be innovative and use any tools they can to their advantage. They can do this with the help of external agencies or consultants if needed.
6. Demand for Better Content
In a work environment where everyone is trying to establish themselves as a true authority to potential customers, you need to stand out. Providing true value through your content and using the right SEO tactics can be essential for successful companies.
It might be tempting to flood your blog or social media with as much content as possible by spending as little as possible. But in the end, this method will lead to a mediocre content strategy that will cost you in terms of wasted time, money, and resources.
You need to hire content growth agencies or SEO specialists who know what they’re doing and can get you results. For example, a proven agency will have access to premium tools like MarketMuse, Ahrefs, and Google Analytics to research your business, competitors, and market to identify topics your audience is searching for.
This allows startups to understand the market they’re entering and plan accordingly. When you post truly valuable content, there’s a higher chance of you getting top rankings on search engine result pages (SERPs) and attracting more readers.
Tips on How to Create a Productive Remote Work Environment
Employees can constantly communicate and quickly sort out any doubts, queries, or misunderstandings in a physical office. This is slightly harder to do when everyone is on their own schedule.
This is why remote managers need to over-communicate. Go into detail about project requirements, underline precisely what is expected from a task, provide examples, and create a system or guide that helps workers clear common queries quickly.
Have a clear communication model in place. Choose a daily communication platform like Slack or office phone systems, a unified work platform like monday.com for work management, and create a spreadsheet where employees can indicate the times they are generally available.
2. Set Up Daily or Weekly Meetings
A major downside to remote work is the lack of social interaction, which leads to isolation and loneliness. As a startup with a small team, you can combat this via daily or weekly online meetings.
You could choose to have a virtual catch-up meeting every day at a specific time or host weekly online games or drinks nights for everyone to relax and socialize. Don’t make everything about work.
Remember that remote teams still benefit from a positive work culture and team bonding.
3. Maintain a Work-Life Balance
It’s hard not to check your email or Slack constantly, especially when you get notifications after you’ve logged off. You need to avoid this and create a “log-off” time where you stop checking work-related notifications.
Being on-call 24/7 will lead to burnout and resentment. This lowers productivity and morale. It also affects your social life and stops you from spending quality time with your friends, family, or partner.
4. Avoid Micromanaging
As a founder or leader at a startup with a small team, you might want to constantly check progress and ask for updates to make sure everything is on track. Avoid this.
Hovering over your workers’ shoulders, even virtually, can lead to lost productivity and makes employees feel like you don’t trust them to finish their tasks.
Clearly communicate what is expected of them and then let them handle it. You can step in when there’s a problem or if there are constant delays. Otherwise, trust your workers to get the job done. Avoiding micromanaging helped I’m a Puzzle in increasing their remote team productivity.
Remote work has revolutionized the startup world. Founders, CEOs, and leaders have to adapt to a changing workplace that relies on data and tech to function efficiently. However, having the right experts and team members by your side makes remote work easier and even rewarding.
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About The Author
Brad Smith is the Founder of Codeless (a content production agency) and CEO at Wordable.io. His content has been highlighted by The New York Times, Business Insider, The Next Web, and thousands more.