In this day and age, most startup founders, team members and potential employees are expected to be digital-savvy, if not digital-natives. Proficient with digital communication tools, they are certainly no stranger to the concept of flexible, remote or home working. In fact, studies show that remote working is a revolution in progress, increasingly adopted by both progressive startups and established corporations.
But is it the best approach to use when running a startup? Will you, as a founder, be able to run your startup efficiently whilst working remotely? Let’s break down the pros and cons.
- Geographical freedom – As a startup founder, you are most likely wearing many hats and doing several things at the same time, especially if your startup is just getting off the ground. Working from home or remote working allows you to work from anywhere, even while travelling. One day you could be having a virtual meeting with your developers and another day pitching your startups to investors. Working from home also eliminates commuting, saving substantial time which could be used for other more productive activities.
- Flexibility – Working from home allows you the flexibility to organize your day according to your priorities and around your lifestyle. As a founder, you still get to give time to pursue personal activities like hobbies, time with family, or time to learn, and not get too caught up in the “hustle and bustle” of founding and running a startup.
- Reduced cost – As a startup, you would want to limit overhead costs. If you are working from home and most of your team are also working virtually, you save on office costs like rent and utilities.
- Increased productivity – Without the distraction of the office chatter and banter, you get to focused and dive deep into running your startup.
The scoop? Overall, working from home as a startup founder points to better quality of life, as well as better productivity.
- Communication issues – Less effective communication with your team is a definite possibility. If your team and you are working in different time zones, it could prove challenging to find a common and convenient time to speak. Informal conversations also build rapport and camaraderie; no matter how clear the connection is during a call you might not capture the non-verbal cues of face-to-face conversation. Sometimes remote communication can exclude some team members, leave one out of the loop, or worse result in a misunderstanding.
- Loneliness and isolation – If you are a person that thrives on personal connection, face-to-face conversations and the bustle of an office, you might struggle to run your startup remotely. Would you be able to build a relationship with your team solely through remote communication and collaboration tools, like Slack, WhatsApp, etc?
- Work/life blurred boundaries – Not wanting to disconnect and putting in too many hours is one of the real dangers of running your startup from home. You could be hard-pressed to stop working, as there are no clear 9 to 5 boundaries between working hours and your personal life.
The downside? These disadvantages point to friction in communication and a less agile collaboration with your team, which could result in reduced overall productivity.
So should you work from home as a Founder?
Remotely running your startup has great advantages, but may not be the best solution when you are just starting out and getting things off the ground. Collaboration and faster response time between team members are very important when you are still testing, measuring, iterating and validating your product.
Once your product has been validated and the startup ready to scale, it can make more sense to run it more remotely and let go of some of the in-person time spent with your team. This allows you as a founder to focus on activities that grow the startup, like pitching to investors or focusing on increasing revenue. The trick as always to being a startup founder is finding what works for you and your team.