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Article Date: 19th October 2020

Samsung Electronics - How Remote Working Helps SMBs Scale

Samsung How Remote Working Helps

In this Q&A, Hannes Kleist, Founder and MD of stanwood, a digital agency for mobile app and web development that operates 100% remotely, discusses the value his firm has gained from offering remote working and how SMBs can take advantage of this new way of working.

There is no question that remote working is rapidly changing how the global workforce of today operates. Not only can employees benefit from a more flexible schedule and spend more time with family, but businesses can hire highly skilled workers from around the world and eliminate office costs.

In this Q&A, Hannes Kleist, Founder and MD of stanwood, a digital agency for mobile app and web development that operates 100% remotely, discusses the value his firm has gained from offering remote working and how SMBs can take advantage of this new way of working.

To what extent have you found it easier to hire skilled staff from a broader global workforce thanks to offering remote working as an option?

All our team members either work from home or choose to work in a rented co-working space close to their homes. The key benefits of hiring remote workers are we have the luxury to hire purely by talent and team fit. Location is not a limiting factor at all. That’s a big plus in our field of work where we compete for the best, most experienced developers and project managers with global players like Apple, Google and Amazon.

Such a diverse bunch of people bring so many interesting perspectives to all our projects which is a real benefit working on creative technology projects. We never have had an office. But in Berlin we would have to pay €3,000 to €5,000 per year and per team member. For example, with a team of 20, that amounts to €60,000 saved per year.

How are you able to ensure that a strong organisational culture is maintained when staff are working remotely?

It is crucial for remote teams to create an organisational culture people identify with so they feel part of a bigger thing. We’ve been continuously developing our remote culture over the past six years and are still in the process of doing so. Remote culture at stanwood means sharing the same values and upholding them in our daily operations.

I invite new team members over to my home to cook with them and get to know them. This format - I called it “Grill the Boss” - has been really helpful to get to know people and by cooking together, it all happens in a relaxed atmosphere.

With clear communication being vital to any successful business, what tools do you use to keep channels of communication open?

Our main communication channel is video calling, where we do daily stand-ups in our projects, weekly all-hands and other video calls as needed to discuss project and company related topics. We use Zoom, Whereby and Google Hangouts for our video calls, depending on the number of participants.

For FYI topics we use Slack to post status updates, share company news, new tech stuff and personal things with each other. That’s an easy and fun environment to work in, it’s good for the team spirit, for strengthening our remote culture and it gives people a feeling of belonging.

A recent study found that staff who work remotely are more productive, have less time off sick and are more loyal to their employer. How important is it for scaling a business to make use of these advantages?

It is my true belief that remote work is the future of work. Plenty of studies have shown the advantages of remote work. Increased productivity, higher engagement and less sick leave are just a few of those advantages. I’m a data nerd so I like to do my own analysis. Analysing our productivity level, I found that in 2019, we spent 90% of our time on billable client projects. That level of productivity is impossible to reach in a regular desk job.

To get a feeling for the overall satisfaction at stanwood and identify points for improvement, I do regular team questionnaires and feedback loops with my staff. From our internal surveys we found that the advantages our team members value most are free choice of where to live, flexible schedule to spend time with families and loved ones, no dead time for commuting, and long periods of deep work.

What advice would you give to other SMBs who want to scale but aren’t fully convinced remote working is for them?

SMBs cannot afford to stick to their limited hiring radius and expect to compete on a global level. If they want to increase their innovation power, they need to hire the best talent - and most of them just don’t live nearby. I found that more and more people are recognising the benefits of remote work and are looking for ways to integrate this new way of work into their teams.

We all have to try out what works for our teams and what doesn’t. I found it incredibly helpful to talk with other remote companies at remote roundtables and business events. The openness of most remote companies to share their experiences, problems and solutions is unprecedented.

My personal advice to anyone who wants to introduce remote work in their business: Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. There is no handbook like “remote work for dummies” - yet.

Making the switch to remote working can seem like a complex process for many SMBs. But as the example of stanwood shows, the benefits from this innovative way of working can bring major improvements to how a business operates. From broadening the talent pool available to hire, improving staff productivity and enhancing how employees communicate; SMBs should consider if adopting remote working is a good fit for them.

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