The SaaS Society: Teamwork, Remote Work & The Evolution of Both

 

Let’s play a game of word association. If I say ‘teamwork’, there’s a solid chance your answer isn’t going to be anything close to ‘remote work’, and there’s a reason for that. Historically—heck, even five years ago—opportunities to work remotely were few and far between. All the proof we need that this is true existed on the employment search engines. When looking to fill a role, more often than not, companies required candidates to be local from the get-go—remote workers need not apply. Likewise, working from home was little more than an occasional luxury to the employed. Full days of work, unless spent inside the four walls of an office, seemed almost delinquent; like regardless of the work you produced, it didn’t quite count for as much as if it had been done under the watchful eye of a manager. 

 
But, as they say, times they are a changin’. 
 
The way we see it, there have been a few key catalysts for, in particular, the startup world’s relatively newfound acceptance of remote work. First, a shift in the zeitgeist: Companies began to realize that talent is everywhere, and by limiting themselves to applicants in their immediate area, they were closing themselves off to a huge pool of potential. The desire to work remotely came to be seen less as a symptom of laziness, and more as a result of pragmatism. After all, how many precious hours per month are spent commuting, especially by those living decently far outside the big cities? Was it really worth it to trade those now-lost hours, just so someone could watch over you, to be absolutely sure you were working? Did companies really not trust their employees to be productive outside the office? 
 
Secondly, the emergence and evolution of online communication and collaboration platforms like Slack and Dropbox Paper allowed teams to work together no matter their physical location. These integral tools changed what it meant to be a team within an organization by creating a way for on-location employees to communicate quickly and informally with remote team members—barely different than if they happened to be in the same room. This ability to touch base on-demand without having to get on the phone--plus, let’s face it, the ability to joke around with one another and chat idly when the mood strikes—was, and is, a game-changer. 
 
Being responsible content creators, we’ve done our homework on this. In addition to our own (substantial) experience with remote culture, we consulted the internet to harvest some insight from a couple of the great many opinion-havers on Twitter: 
 
Max Lynch @maxlynch:
"I don't think tech folks quite understand how pervasive remote work has become. It's not even a debate anymore, it's a full on revolution. Hard to do any recruiting these days and not constantly run into talented folks who will never go back to working in an office again" 
 
Howard van Rooijen @HowardvRooijen: 
"We went 100% remote last year, it's been a very positive move and 3 people we've wanted to join the company for years finally agreed, once we removed the "You must do the 9-5 London rat race" barrier." 
 
Sahil Lavingia @shl:
"If you were doubting the trend towards working remotely, we got 114 applications in two days! Seven have already passed our coding challenge. Over half non-white and about 20 women. A bunch of founders that need a way to fund themselves. And quite a few Gumroad creators, too!"
 
 
These are just snapshots from a much larger conversation—one that we’ve seen taking place time and time again both online and off. Back in December, our CEO, Jason Reichl, took part in a panel on the subject at the Work Awesome Conference on the Future of Work and Communication. Alongside Kari Howe of Drift and J Zac Stein of Lattice, he discussed the importance of hiring and working with intention, whether it’s remote or not.
 
In an article by Open View on predictions for 2019, Carol MacKinlay, Chief People Officer at UserTesting, offered the following: "Companies will accelerate hiring remote employees to get the skills needed. The rising cost and competition for workers and office space, along with the positive shift in communication tools will drive companies to think even more broadly about their open roles. This may also be the easiest path to creating a diverse workforce." 
 
So, not only is remote work benefitting employees who prefer the flexibility and convenience; employers are also reaping rewards. Namely, the ability to make quality, diverse hires regardless of postal code.  
 
After all, when you’re truly selecting talent for the right reasons, what’s a few miles between monitors?  
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