The Challenges & Benefits Of Being A Remote-First Workplace
As the world continues to adapt to the new normal brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies are rethinking their approach to work. One area that has seen a significant shift is the advertising industry, where remote work has become increasingly popular. Leaf operates as a remote-first company. Why? Because the benefits of doing so are abundant. From tapping into a larger talent pool, stronger retention, covering more timezones and building hubs around the world, here at Leaf we’ve built a diverse team all over the world. But, with all these benefits, come unique and difficult challenges along the way. Timezones, language barriers, employee/employer trust, mental health and building long-lasting relationships through purely digital outlets are all challenges unique to a remote-first company. With all of this in mind, read what our team has to say on being fully remote, from the benefits and challenges we’ve faced along the way!
Tapping Into The Wider Talent Pool
With the technology available today, remote working has allowed us to tap into a global talent pool regardless of their location. This can be particularly beneficial for small businesses that may not have the resources to build a large in-house team, as they can access skilled professionals from around the world.
Additionally, remote working can also help companies to diversify their teams, bringing in different perspectives, ideas, and expertise. However, it’s important to note that remote working can be complex, especially when working with employees from different countries. The different employment laws and regulations can make it difficult for companies to ensure compliance, and for employees to understand their rights.
This is where creating “hubs” in certain countries can be helpful. By having a presence in different locations, companies can better understand the employment laws and regulations of that region, while also allowing employees to enjoy the benefits of being full-time employees. This is the approach that Leaf has taken, creating hubs in countries such as the UK, the Netherlands, and Costa Rica, to offer a wide talent pool while reducing complexity.
Working In Your Second Language
However, there are always issues with tapping into the wider talent pool. Bridging communication gaps is front of mind for us. While Leaf is headquartered in Newcastle, in the north of England, 74% of our 57 staff are working with English as a second language. There are nine different native languages across the team: English, Spanish, Arabic, Punjabi, Greek, Indonesian, Hindi, Serbian and Portuguese.
In order to aid in any struggles some might have with working in their second language, we run communications training on both sides. For example, helping non-native English speakers understand different accents, and working with English speakers to be more precise in how they use English.
“Speaking up in meetings or challenging someone more senior than you is hard for everyone. In your second language, it’s even harder and part of our communications training was based on building confidence and framing what you want to say in English,”
Gabriella Parker, Head of People
Furthermore, we also encourage team members to pause a meeting to check something on Google Translate if somebody isn’t sure of a particular word or phrase. Wherever possible, we prioritize written and asynchronous communications and opt for silent meetings, where the first 10 minutes is spent digesting the material to be discussed.
Work-life balance is important, and being remote-first allows us at Leaf to be part of the Good Work Pledge. This pledge prioritises making poor employment a thing of the past, and Good Work the norm. Helga Alvarez, our CTO recently spoke with the team at #GoodWorkPledge on why it’s good for business and how remote working plays so well into employee satisfaction.
“We need to make conscious decisions as leaders to move forward into a better work-life balance and by providing your employees with a better quality of life, they will in turn provide you with much better work in the future. One of the ways we’re pushing this is through remote working.”
Maintaining happiness amongst the team is beneficial in countless ways, and even just a few benefits from working remotely can feed into this. Removing the morning and evening commute can save employees a huge amount of time in their lives. Many of our employees previously had to commute an hour either way to work, 5 days a week. That’s over 40 hours a month of wasted time saved and given back to the employee for personal development and free time!
Furthermore, saving on travel expenses, morning coffees and eating out are all aspects that make their lives more sustainable and affordable.
Our Founder On Remote-First Working
What does our CEO, Gilbert, have to say on all of this? In a recent interview between Gil, our Founder, and Best Start Up London, Gil was questioned about several aspects of remote working. Here are some of the questions he was asked:
What do you find are the advantages of operating your business in London?
“None. We’ve now moved to be fully remote, and whilst keeping a leg in the city allows for networking, the pandemic showed us that the world is your oyster and is for you to grab and run with it.”
Are there any issues with having a London-based business? Have you experienced these?
“It is expensive in a time when remote trumps.”
How has the higher-than-UK average cost of living impacted your ability to work and live in London and how has this also impacted your ability as an employer?
“We looked wide and far.”
If you had to relocate your business to another city in the UK, which one would it be and why?
“In a world of global biz and remote workforce, cities these days are not a concept that applies longer to business”
In conclusion, remote working has become increasingly popular in the tech and advertising industry and for good reason. Because of it, we’ve been able to tap into a wider talent pool, cover more time zones and build hubs around the world. Furthermore, working in a remote-first workspace has allowed us to prioritize good work-life balance, which leads to employee satisfaction. With the technology available today, remote working is the future of the tech and advertising space.