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Working Remotely: Pros, Cons & Considerations for Businesses to Know

Posted on 9.29.2015

Whether it's sitting in traffic or an unproductive meeting, there are many moments in a professional's day when they wish they were able to work remotely.

From a business perspective, many companies - especially in the tech world - have embraced remote work in order to obtain the talent they need, regardless of where those people are located. Others have offered telecommuting as a benefit for employees in addition to in-office work. Whatever the reason, so many companies are offering this option from the get-go that other enterprises will need to at least consider it in order to retain employees. In fact, there is strong evidence that those who work remotely are more productive, happier and less likely to quit than their office-only counterparts. 

There are other companies, however, that are building their entire business around remote work. Flaunt Digital, for example, is a fully remote digital agency that is made up of mostly ex-agency employees and offers SEO, biddable media, content marketing and design and development. By operating remotely, Flaunt Digital Co-Founder and CEO, Lee Fuller, says it allows them to be half the cost of normal digital agencies, while still providing the same level of expertise and service.

Website Magazine caught up with Fuller to discuss the details of working remotely - from pros, cons and considerations for businesses to know. 

Why is a remote digital agency disruptive to the industry?

Lee Fuller of Flaunt Digital: A remote agency is disruptive in this industry because the agencies that currently operate in this space are traditional in how they are set up. They have an office or several offices, the staff commute in to the office every day to work and face to face meetings are part of the service, even when not always necessary. A remote digital agency goes against that traditional set up and utilizes technology to operate in a way which provides an effective and specialist service. Reducing the costs by not having to have a large office and constantly attend face-to-face meetings, allows the average cost to clients to be half that of traditional agencies. The staff work flexible hours and work from wherever makes them happiest, this means that the level of work they deliver of the highest standard.

What are the opportunities in having a remote team?

Operating a remote team presents many advantages such as:

1. Availability - due to the nature of being remote this means that the "office" is virtual so the team are available more and easier to reach.

2. Talent - operating a remote team vastly widens the talent available, having a physical location generally reduces the amount of talent available. Being remote means that the talent pool becomes global.

3. Efficiency - the natural collaborative nature of remote working allows for higher levels of efficiency when working as a team to complete tasks.

4. Transparency - being transparent ties in to efficiency in that because of the collaborative nature of working remotely means that everything has to be on the table, this is great for clients and staff. It means that no one is out of the loop so everyone is reading from the same page.

What are the challenges in having a remote team?

1. Employing the right people - although there is the advantage of having the opportunity to recruit globally instead of locally, it can sometimes be difficult to hire the right remote worker. Someone that is coming from a traditional background is not always suited to joining a remote team.

2. Company culture - it takes a lot more effort to create and maintain a company culture and camaraderie.

3. Communication - communication can sometimes be tricky, there has to be a lot more communication within a remote team to allow it to operate effectively. If this falls down it can be detrimental to the company and the customers.

What tools does Flaunt Digital use for file sharing, invoicing and other business operations?

Flaunt Digital uses a variety of tools however our own dashboard is at our heart. The dashboard allows clients and staff to log in and see exactly what is going on at any time, some of the key features of the dashboard are:

1. Tasks - anyone with a log in can see what tasks are happening on the accounts they have access to, there is also the ability to comment and discuss tasks. This means the clients can talk directly to the staff that are working on their account, and shape the tasks if they feel they need tweaking.

2. Files - files can be uploaded and shared within the dashboard to allow access wherever and whenever.

3. Contacts - clients can log in and grab the contact details for everyone that works on the account.

4. Invoicing - all invoicing is handled digitally through the dashboard, and payments are processed using Stripe.

We also use a bunch of external tools to help us operate smoothly:

1. Slack - this is our virtual office everyone hangs out here, and we have channels set up for specific issues.

2. Skype/Hangouts - we use Skype or Hangouts for video calls

3. Appear.in - we use this if we want to create a room for brainstorming an idea or if we need a quick video call with clients that are not in the same office.

4. Trello - Trello keeps our content planning organized.

5. Buffer - we use Buffer to manage our social media updates.

What costs can actually be cut by having a remote digital agency?

In terms of costs the main benefits are:

1. Office space - we don't have to have an office that is capable of having everyone under one roof so this saves a lot on costs.

2. Travel costs - because we handle the majority of our meetings online this vastly reduces the amount having to be spent on train or air fares.

Are clients hesitant to work with remote teams?

The marketing industry is one that is quite traditional in terms of how agencies set themselves up, which means that generally, especially for larger clients there is a hesitation at first. Once we communicate our experience and they see the quality of work and results that we deliver the feedback we get is generally "i don't know why i was unsure". This is to be expected of a company that is looking to disrupt an long-established space.

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