Few weeks ago, I saw this tweet from Founder Joel Gascoigne and heard that Buffer was going 100 per cent remote, I got the goosebumps straight away. I asked him if they are heading to Bali soon of course. But why was I so excited?
Well, ever since that remote working summer I spent in Costa Rica during 2009, I’ve dreamt about working as a digital nomad so hearing such news is absolutely thrilling for me. I only see this happening more often, especially with social media and web-based businesses. After all, everyone has a computer and the Internet can keep people connected.
In Buffer’s case however there were some definite benefits to having an office in the tech capital of the United States, not least because the big social networks and other startups are in the immediate vicinity. Partnerships could be forged, meetings could be had, and traditional networking was made easier by having a formal office space.
Yet despite this, the benefits of having a fully distributed team won out in the end. Here’s some of the reasons why Buffer made the decision, and why more companies are almost certainly set to follow:
The obvious benefit of not maintaining an office is that it saves a significant amount of money. Not only do you not have to rent a space (often in an expensive area), but you also do not have to pay for servers and computer equipment, electricity bills, general office supplies, and extras like refreshments and meals. In Buffer’s case, maintaining an office was more expensive than both their worker insurance and advertising budgets.
Savings are passed on
Obviously once you cut costs, you can choose to reinvest this back into the business. Whether that’s through increased advertising spends, equipment upgrades or whatever else. You also might choose to be generous and bump up worker salaries. A portion of the savings can also be passed on to customer or client, which if planned correctly could end up boosting sales and revenue.
Remote working also brings an element of convenience, especially for employees. Generally speaking, as long as the work is done by its deadline — they have the freedom to work their own hours. This allows them to pick the kids up from school, sleep in for an extra hour if they’re particularly tired, and not have to worry about making themselves presentable. There’s also no rushing around to drive or commute to get to the office, which costs money in fuel and public transport fees. Furthermore, there’s no pressure to live in a certain town because there’s not necessarily anywhere to be.
In most cases, remote workers are less stressed and this can boost morale and productivity. And because there’s no time wasted travelling to office, in theory more time can be spent getting work done. Jay Meistrich actually tracked his performance with RescueTime while working remotely. The result is quite impressive.
From an employer’s standpoint, having the whole business operate remotely allows them to consider employees from a much broader field. Previously that expert coder who was passionate about the job had to be overlooked because they weren’t willing to relocate. Now it doesn’t matter because they can work from their current base. In the same vein, that employee who would have left because they’d decided to start a new life in another state, can now stay because they’re not required in the office.