Screen Shot 2015-09-04 at 10.03.50

(This is a business case study. It will be used to guide discussions during the session: “Remote Working” at the Vendo Partner Conference in Barcelona on Wednesday, September 14th.)

Barcelona Vienna

Julius shook Tim’s hand warmly and walked him out of his office and into the bright sun shining onto Barcelona’s beach and the Mediterranean sea. As he watched Tim walk back towards the city Julius thought to himself, “Well, I’m not going to be seeing much of him in the future. No matter what I do. I’ve got two choices and I don’t really like either of them.”

Tim was talented. There was no doubt. He seemed like a great fit for Julius’s plans to grow the brand of a domain he’d just acquired. The domain was a big one. Really big. Ask any young man to name the top 10 domains he’d like to own and Julius’s latest acquisition would be on the list. It was a massive project that needed huge talent. Tim had proven his ability to “blow up” brands over the last ten years. They’d even worked together on one and Tim had impressed Julius. He was a good thinker and Julius couldn’t argue with the results. Tim was the closest Julius had come to a sure thing when hiring.

But when Julius made the offer there was a hitch.

Several years earlier Julius had decided to locate his new office on the beach in Barcelona. The German native had made the move for more than just the obvious reasons. Of course, it was beautiful. But he was also seeking to attract the best talent he could to his growing company. Barcelona had become a powerful magnet for digital nomads. Having an office on the beach was the cherry on top.

Tim loved the office but it wasn’t going to get him to move to Barcelona. He was married with two kids in Vienna. His wife loved to visit Barcelona – who doesn’t? – but she needed the support of her extended family to raise their kids. He couldn’t leave Vienna. Julius had understood. He went back into his office to mull over his options. Hire Tim to work remotely from Vienna or keep looking for someone to come to Barcelona, a search that had already taken six months. Either way he wasn’t going to be seeing much of Tim.

Julius wasn’t committed to remote working. It had worked for him…and it had failed. He wrote down some of this thoughts to help him make his decision:

Which types of people and roles does remote working work well for?

  • Seems to work well for people who have clear tasks and only require little amount of follow up guidance (i.e. writers).
  • Is probably not the best idea for key positions like team leads who are frequently contacted by their members and serve as a central communication hub (even slight delay or communication obstacles often result in people simply not asking questions).
  • Works well for people who are disciplined, responsible, dedicated, committed and get what the business is about. They need to be able to independently work on stuff and this is only possible when they get “it” and keep my company’s best interests in mind regardless of their location.
  • It’s a little bit like software. If I have good documentation and a clear API, even the most complex system can work well together.

How do I make remote working benefit my company?

  • Requires people to put extra effort in communication (like checking in, establishing a constant or at least regular communication routine).
  • It can benefit my company because certain types of senior people won’t commit to “9to5” routines while still delivering outstanding work. Sometimes there are only a number of specialists out there and it’s better to have them on board then in your office.
  • It can be cheaper, because in many remote cases people write invoices rather than being employed. This usually reduces expenses for the company while the remote worker might even get a higher net salary.
  • I can invest the money I save on office space in team building events.

When should I not go remote?

  • Does not work for people who are not willing to commit to the company and just want their freedom.
  • When I feel someone is not committed to the same cause.

Julius picked up the phone and dialed Tim. He had a few more questions and then he would take his decision: go remote with Tim or continue the search.