Remote work is becoming more popular than ever, but here's why successful businesses still rely on traditional office culture.
There's never been a better time to be an entrepreneur. With today's technology at your disposal, you can transform your idea into money with greater ease than any generation before. Go back a handful of generations and many businesses -- possibly even yours -- couldn't have existed.
Despite technology's perks, it can't run your business for you, and you better not let it push your people out of your reach. Because while telecommuting gives employees flexibility and reduces overhead, the most successful business owners know that in order to make money, you've got to keep your resources in one location.
Here's why it's the best practice for your business.
1. Powerful new ideas rise to the top.
There's no such thing as sitting still and maintaining success. You're either evolving or you're dying. There is no in-between. Professional athletes know it, artists know it, and unless you want to start carving your business's headstone, you better know and act on it as well.
To keep your company in growth mode, you need a steady influx of fresh ideas. Since you started the company, you have great insight into where to go next. But remember, you only have the perspective of one person. That's why you need another, bigger source of ideas.
Assuming you're surrounded by the right folks, they'll spit out new ideas constantly. That doesn't mean that having your people in-house ensures they'll send ideas your way every day. First they have to be convinced that it's safe to be open with you, and this doesn't happen overnight.
Most people have been trained by college or traditional corporate jobs not to share their opinions. That means it's up to us as entrepreneurs to lead with a giving hand, show our people we care and open the door for them to honestly express themselves.
The sort of openness I'm preaching doesn't come naturally to me, either. I had to momentarily drop some of my intensity, practice smiling until it was sincere and show my people that they could speak their minds without negative consequences. After spending hundreds on coffee meet-ups and surprise food trucks, I won over some of them. Not all of them, of course -- but I did win over the key players with the fire in their bellies to succeed.
2. Deadlines (and people) are relevant.
Though telecommuters get stuff done every day, it's easier to make serious headway with your people under the same roof. Yes, contract employees can do a great job and meet deadlines. But, people housed under a single roof do it better.
What happens when a client wants a last-minute change to a design proposal? If your people are in your building, you can walk down the hallway at 5 p.m. and talk to your design pro. Two hours after the offices have cleared out, you walk your design expert out of the office, surprise her with a gift card, and give her the next day off.
When this happens, you meet deadlines despite last-minute changes, your designer knows she's valued and you've strengthened her commitment to the company -- a win-win-win. That's much harder to do with contract or remote employees, since they probably have a set time of day when they shut off email.
3. You can better manage risk.
No matter how well you manage people and processes, people get upset and processes fail. Having your people in-house lets you take action fast, bring about proper resolutions and strengthen processes to prevent the same failure down the road.
Take IT for example. The best IT people make your business run more smoothly on a daily basis. Contract IT pros want you to succeed, but their hands are tied since they're not at your office every day to gain firsthand knowledge of your IT weak spots.
Pull your IT team under your roof, and you'll see immediate improvement in your IT systems. That's because in-house IT pros don't give one-size-fits-all solutions or try to upsell you a product you don't need. They're a part of your team and they have one goal: to provide a stable IT network that enables your employees to do their jobs well and helps your company make more money.
4. Your people will develop.
As an entrepreneur, you see a need that needs to be met and do something about it. What if all your employees had this skill? They can if you keep them under one roof and give them the time necessary to develop it. Investing in team development comes with three immediate benefits.
1. You remind your people that they're valuable. You wouldn't invest time in people with no potential, and your team members know that.
2. You increase their ROI. Investing in your team is no different than upgrading your technology to something faster, cheaper or more powerful. You're spending a little money now to make a lot of money later.
3. You prep your company for future success. Building your employees' skills after hire allows you to create super employees who work together to push your company to the next level, over and over.
Think you can do this with off-site employees? Dream on.
Because building a successful business involves more than products or customer service or the right logo. It takes culture, which doesn't develop unless you intentionally work on it.
And the best starting point for building your company's culture isn't in a marketing campaign or a pitch to financial backers. It's under the roof of your headquarters, where your team interacts with and solidifies that culture every day. Building a strong, consistent culture when your team members can't interact face-to-face is no easy task.
Bring your team together, invest in them, and let them become the army who will build your empire.
Originally published May 9, 2019 on Entrepreneur.com