Why remote work is still of central importance
Our journey of building a fully remote tech start-up across twelve countries started in November 2021 and solely tasked with building the team, I faced some major challenges.
Prior to starting up coto, I had worked with two friends who had set up Agile HRO, a specialised outsourced remote hiring and onboarding company. My time there highlighted the diverse experiences, perspectives, and skills remote teams bring to the table. So, when I set out to establish a fully remote tech company across twelve different countries for coto, I knew that the journey would be filled with challenges, learning experiences, and benefits too.
For example, when we first started, managing a remote team scattered across various time zones proved to be quite the juggling act. Coordinating meetings, maintaining effective communication, and ensuring that everyone felt connected and supported was no easy feat. On top of that, we faced a myriad of cultural differences, which sometimes led to misunderstandings and communication gaps. It was critical that we developed solutions to keep us on track, ensuring we were achieving our productivity and resource utilisation targets. We prioritised tackling these challenges head-on and discovered several solutions that significantly improved our remote work experience.
Flexible work hours and open transparent communication were key. We learned to embrace the beauty of flexibility, good communication and actively encouraged full collaboration. By using tools like Slack, Notion and JIRA, we could collaborate and share information without having to be online at the same time. This made a world of difference in our workflow and helped reduce the stress associated with time zone differences.
We realised that some people felt isolated, so we focused on regular check-ins and virtual meetups; we made a point of maintaining a sense of connection and unity. These touchpoints allowed us to discuss progress, address concerns, and share personal stories, making us feel more like a family than just colleagues.
As we are spread over twelve countries, cultural awareness was an initial challenge for many people. We invested in cultural awareness training to foster understanding, respect, and appreciation for our team’s diverse backgrounds. This not only improved communication but also enriched our team dynamics by celebrating the unique perspectives each team member brought to the table.
One thing that I quickly realised was that trust is the glue that holds a remote team together. Without trust, collaboration and productivity will quickly crumble. Trust has played a pivotal role in our team’s success, and it manifested in several ways. It empowered people, so we actively encouraged autonomy and empowered our people to make decisions and take ownership of their work. This fostered a sense of trust in their abilities, boosting both confidence and performance.
“I believe that we are doing the right thing by remaining a globally remote organisation. Our journey to build a fully remote tech company across twelve countries has been nothing short of amazing.” – Scott Harrison, Chief People & Culture Officer, coto.
In essence, we successfully created a conscious-led organisation and to the best of our ability, we phased out the task-oriented type environment. After all, transparency and open communication are key to create trust. We have maintained a conscious effort to be transparent in our decision-making processes and maintain open lines of communication. This helped build trust between team members and management, ensuring that everyone felt heard and valued.
This created accountability and reliability, with everyone holding themselves and team members accountable for their own work. By setting clear expectations and following through on commitments, we cultivated a culture of reliability and trustworthiness.
While we still have a long way to go, I believe that we are doing the right thing by remaining a globally remote organisation. Our journey to build a fully remote tech company across twelve countries has been nothing short of amazing. By addressing the initial challenges of remote working, implementing solutions that fostered collaboration and unity, and placing trust at the core of our team dynamics, we have been able to create a thriving, successful, and truly global company. It is a testament to the power of remote work, and I am excited to see where this adventure takes us next!
About the Author: Scott Harrison is Chief People & Culture Officer, coto. Join him at HR Tech Festival Asia 2023 on May 10 at 2.30pm (SGT), where he will share insights into overcoming the initial hurdles of remote working and how to build a cohesive and successful remote team.