The COVID-19 pandemic forced businesses around the world to reconsider their working models. Companies that had never offered employees to work from home were suddenly moving to remote-friendly working arrangements just to stay afloat. The continuing concerns over the pandemic have accelerated the growth of remote work, and it’s predicted that 32% of all employees worldwide will be remote by the end of the year (up from 17% of remote employees in 2019). The pandemic has reshaped the work world, potentially for good.
Remote-Friendly or Remote-First? What’s the Difference?
The terms remote-friendly and remote-first are often used interchangeably, but they have two different meanings. For remote-first companies like Payara, working remotely is a philosophy and the default way to work. On the other hand, employees of a remote-friendly company may have the privilege to work from home or another location occasionally, but the company has a physical workspace for their team.
Advantages of Remote-First Business Culture
If you’re still on the fence regarding remote working, consider some of the advantages a remote-first business culture presents for both the company and its employees:
1. Recruit Top Talent
A remote-first company doesn’t need physical office space, which automatically puts them at an advantage over organizations working in-person and even over remote-friendly companies. A remote-friendly company allows some employees to work from home at times, but team members must be located within commuting distance of the office. When you are remote-first like Payara, it opens the door to attracting and acquiring top talent for every role in the company since the search is not limited to a specific geographic location.
Payara uses global recruitment pools via social media advertising to attract top talent in every
area of business, including software engineers, recruitment, customer service support teams, finance, marketing, human resources, and business administration.
Hiring better talent makes your company more competitive while the flexibility to work from anywhere helps you retain employees. Flexjobs reports that 68% of women and 57% of men prefer a remote-only workplace, even post-pandemic.
2. Cost Savings
Real estate, property taxes, property utilities, and cleaning expenses are significant line items on the business profit and loss statement, especially if you are in big cities. One of the main reasons a company decides to take on the remote-first culture is the cost savings that come from not having a physical location, or from having a smaller office space than you’d need to support all employees working in the office. However, to protect your company from cyberattacks, credential theft, and account takeovers it is particularly important that remote companies invest in training of employees and tools that will add various layers of security for the company’s operations.
3. Scalability and Business Continuity
When a business experiences a period of rapid growth, scaling up to meet the new demands without interrupting your ongoing operations is challenging. It takes time to hire new staff, expand office space, and obtain the new equipment and hardware required to support that growth. Not to mention disruptions unrelated to business growth, like natural disasters or pandemics that can put you out of business if you don’t have an effective business continuity plan to enable your team to work from other locations.
Remote-first companies scale up and down easily to meet changing business requirements. And, they already have remote working procedures in place and the necessary technology to support working from anywhere. Payara was mostly unaffected by the worldwide shutdowns as we already had everything in place to work remotely.
4. Increased Productivity
Despite the common fear that remote working reduces employee productivity due to the distractions of home, studies of remote working companies during the pandemic proved the opposite. A Stanford study indicated a 13% increase in productivity for remote workers, with 9% coming from taking fewer breaks and sick days, and 4% of the increased productivity attributed to a quieter work environment.
5. Positive Environmental Impact
Working remotely may reduce greenhouse gas emissions when someone who used to commute to work daily by car stays home to work. According to the World Health Organization, air pollution kills around seven million people worldwide every year. But fewer people commuting to work results in less air pollution as evidenced during the April 2020 worldwide Covid lockdowns. Major cities saw a drop in rush-hour traffic which coincided with improved air quality.
Payara’s Remote-First Philosophy Fuels Our Growth
Payara was “born global” and started as a remote-first team from the day we founded Payara in the UK. Our team of employees and suppliers are currently spread out across 11 countries and many time zones. When Covid caused shutdowns all over the world, Payara’s remote-first organization allowed us to continue operating business-as-usual.
Despite all the advantages of remote-first workplaces, it also presents some challenges, such as how to effectively manage a remote-working staff and how to handle people working in multiple time zones.
While our team is globally distributed, we still collaborate daily to build exceptional products and deliver high-quality services to our customers and the community. The remote-first business model only works when the team remains open to new ideas and works with transparency and a willingness to share with others.
Payara teams have quick daily ‘stand-up’ virtual meetings via Microsoft Teams to keep everyone up-to-date with what each team member is working on and eliminate any bottlenecks or blockers for completing tasks. Management teams meet regularly to discuss business strategy and operations and ensure each of the individual teams are working toward achieving the company objectives and key results (OKRs).
We use web-based project management software to track individual tasks, who is responsible for what, which parts have been completed and what still needs doing for our software releases and marketing efforts. This collaborative tool provides everyone with a detailed look at the progress of each initiative. (We call this the “single source of truth”).
It’s important to note that not everyone succeeds in a remote-first company. It means our People Team (that’s what we call our Human Resources Department) actively looks to hire employees and suppliers who demonstrate self-discipline, self-motivation, integrity, and excellent communication skills.
Another challenge remote-first companies face is developing a strong internal culture. It is difficult for team members to feel a sense of belonging when everyone is working in different time zones and locations. A remote-first business that fails to create a sense of belonging or reduce the general, overall loneliness that can occur in remote working environments will struggle with staffing loss.
Payara has several “groups” that meet virtually at various times after work for different hobbies and interests – we currently have a book club, movie club, and music club. We have a Virtual Payara Day once a quarter when the entire company gets together via Microsoft Teams to brainstorm new ideas and review the progress toward company goals. And we also bring everyone together once a year during Payara Week (when there isn’t a pandemic!) to collaborate in person and enjoy social activities.
Our remote-first philosophy extends to our products, too. The Payara Platform is recognised globally as a leading platform for developing and deploying mission critical Jakarta EE applications. Our first customer was in a different country from us, and now we have customers across the world.
The nature of Payara’s open source platform is that it can be discovered and adopted by developers and companies worldwide. Even our foundational core technologies including Java, Jakarta EE, and MicroProfile are created through international collaboration, and our software is downloaded all over the world.
How to Transition to a Remote-First Culture
If you aren’t allowing the team to work outside of the office yet, start by becoming more remote-friendly and allowing employees work-from-home days. You can start gathering the necessary technology, provide remote-work training, and create remote work policies.
As more of your team successfully works remotely, you can progress gradually until you’ve achieved the ideal balance of on-site work and remote work.
Whether you become 100% remote depends on your unique business requirements, but even remote-friendly businesses experience numerous benefits over those who only work on-site.