During the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of people got a taste of working from home. But as the world begins to return to normal, entrepreneurs have an important decision to make; should they operate remotely exclusively or establish a physical office environment for their new business?
This isn’t a simple question, but the answer could affect your company for years to come. So what’s the best way to approach this decision?
The Advantages of Going Fully Remote
First, let’s take a look at the advantages of working remotely:
- No office-related costs. Buying or leasing an office building can be ridiculously expensive. Even for a small office, you’ll be paying thousands of dollars per month in overhead, at minimum. That doesn’t even include the cost of supplies or utilities. Working remotely is by far more cost-efficient.
- Higher productivity. Most people who work remotely are more productive than their office-bound counterparts. There are several potential explanations for this, including the possibility that workers are putting forth extra effort to “prove” their productivity in a home environment. Whatever the case, the bottom line is what’s most important – and here, the bottom line is that employees get more done when working remotely, on average.
- More hiring options. When you go fully remote, without a physical central location, you instantly multiply the number of people you could feasibly hire. Instead of looking at candidates in a single city or a small region, you can literally hire people from all over the world.
- Higher employee morale. Generally speaking, people prefer working from home. There are some individuals who thrive more in a physical environment where they can see and interact with coworkers. But for most of us, the flexible timing, the lack of a commute, and the ability to be more relaxed and casual are superior to going to an office every day. That’s on top of the fact that remote organizations often rely on project scheduling software and other tools to make communication and organization easier.
- Higher adaptability. Working remotely also keeps your business more agile and adaptable. You’re not locked into a specific region, nor are you limited by the size of your physical building. You can grow and transform the business however you see fit; additionally, if you ever decide to go back to a physical office building, you can. Logistically, it’s easier to go from a fully remote model to a physical office building than it is to go from a physical environment to a remote one (though you may encounter resistance from employees who don’t want to change).
The Call of the Physical Office
Working from home has certainly increased in popularity and acceptance over the past few years, but there are still some purists who argue that traditional offices can never be replaced. That’s because they do have some important advantages:
- Prestige and visibility. Having a physical office building can fill you with prestige and give your business more visibility. It can serve as a landmark for your brand – almost as an advertisement – and can impress your guests when they walk through the doors for the first time.
- Physical ownership and security. In some cases, having a physical office building can help you improve security. While cloud data storage is highly secure (if managed properly), there are some benefits to hosting data on your own servers.
- In-person interactions and teambuilding. The big advantage with an in-person office is the capacity for in-person interactions. You can meet with multiple people in a single room without worrying about connection issues or interruptions. So, you can spontaneously make small talk as you walk past your coworkers. You can build, enforce, and adapt your company culture. You can build a stronger, more interdependent team.
Factors to Consider
If you’re still struggling with whether to launch your business as fully remote, consider:
- Budget. How much money do you have to launch your new business? How much revenue will you have coming in? If you’re working with a tight budget, working remotely is superior.
- Size. How big is your business and how many people are you going to initially hire? Working remotely works well for teams of all sizes, but a large team can make it hard to find an appropriate office building for a reasonable amount.
- Agility. How flexible and agile does your business need to be? How would it tolerate putting down roots?
- Future plans. What are you going to do with your business in the future? Do you have plans to grow or transform?
So is it better to launch a new business to be fully remote or should you start with a traditional office and/or a hybrid model?
There isn’t a single right answer to that question, since every business is different, but going fully remote has a ton of advantages – and if you ever want to transition to a physical office, you’ll have the opportunity.