How to Set Up a Remote First Company


Philip Spain


min read


26 Jun 2024

When setting up a remote first company, the process can seem daunting. You need to attract the right talent, choose suitable tools, and foster a culture that thrives even when employees are miles apart. By answering all your pressing questions about remote first, we'll demystify the path to building a successful and sustainable remote business.

Understanding the Basics of Remote First

What is Remote First?

A remote first company is structured to prioritise remote working, making physical location irrelevant to most of its operations. From the ground up, remote first businesses ensure that all processes, communications, and policies are designed with remote work in mind. By contrast, companies that hurriedly adopt remote practices usually face challenges in creating an inclusive and effective remote culture.

Key characteristics of remote first companies include:

  • Advanced communication tools: Ensures seamless interaction.

  • Equal access to information: No employee is at a disadvantage based on location.

  • Flexible working hours: Allows for individual productivity peaks and work-life balance.

In tech today, the remote first approach is increasingly popular, particularly among startups and knowledge-based industries. Emphasising flexibility and autonomy, leaders can recruit global talent without being restricted by geography. For those thinking of setting up such a company, understanding this concept thoroughly forms the foundation of everything else.

Why Choose a Remote First Model?

By choosing a remote first model, you stand to gain numerous competitive advantages. Companies that do this can access a wider talent pool since employees from different regions or countries can apply. Additionally, operating remotely can result in substantial cost savings, as there's no need for large office spaces.

Benefits include:

  • Access to global talent: Helps you find the best candidates regardless of their location.

  • Increase in employee satisfaction: Flexible schedules often result in higher morale and retention.

  • Cost savings: Reducing the need for office space and related maintenance costs.

Another compelling reason for embracing this model is the inevitable shift towards remote work due to circumstances like global pandemics. Employers can't ignore how technology has redefined how we work. As remote working becomes mainstream, having a strong remote first foundation will keep your business agile and adaptive to any unforeseen changes.

Benefits of Going Remote

Going remote introduces a range of direct and indirect benefits. Flexibility is a standout, allowing employees to work when they're most productive. Employees can tailor their work environments, fostering both creativity and productivity.

Benefits summarised:

  • Improved work-life balance: Flexible schedules support personal commitments.

  • Higher productivity: Many employees find they work better without commuting.

  • Employee well-being: Remote work can reduce stress and increase job satisfaction.

From a business perspective, remote policies can reduce your environmental footprint given the reduction in commuting and office energy use. Furthermore, diverse teams foster innovation and broader perspectives, leading to improved business outcomes. The ability to pivot quickly and adapt to changing market conditions is another strategic advantage of a remote first model.

Pro-tip: To maintain high productivity, ensure your team has access to the best tools for communication and project management (e.g., Slack, Asana).

Setting up a remote first company involves dedication and thoughtful implementation. However, the benefits of increased productivity, higher employee satisfaction, and the ability to attract top talent make it a venture worth pursuing.

Steps to Setting Up Your Remote First Company

Defining Your Company Culture and Values

Defining your company culture and values is crucial for aligning your team's behaviour and expectations. Start by identifying what matters most to your business. Think about core values like transparency, accountability, or innovation. Create a clear mission statement that everyone can understand and get behind. This will serve as a foundation for decision-making and future growth.

Effective communication of these values is essential. Keep your team informed and inspired by embedding these principles into daily operations. Use regular meetings, newsletters, and your company website to reinforce your commitment. Encourage employees to contribute ideas on how to live these values through their work. This approach will foster a sense of belonging and purpose among team members.

Pro-tip: Revisit your values annually to ensure they still align with your business goals and team dynamics. Involve your employees in this process for more inclusivity.

Choosing the Right Tools for Communication and Collaboration

Select tools that facilitate efficient communication and collaboration. For team communication, consider using Slack for real-time messaging and channels for different projects. For video conferencing, Zoom or Microsoft Teams can provide reliable options for meetings. Our platform Evidenced is the best way to run remote interviews. Project management tools like Trello or Asana help in tracking tasks and progress.

Assess the specific needs of your team when choosing these tools. Think about the size of your team, the complexity of projects, and any existing workflows. Always prioritise tools that offer seamless integration with one another to streamline processes. Implement these tools in phases, providing training sessions to ensure everyone is comfortable using them.

Pro-tip: Regularly review tool usage to make sure they are still meeting your team's needs. Don't hesitate to switch if a tool isn't performing as expected.

Creating Clear Guidelines and Policies

Clear guidelines and policies provide structure and clarity for remote teams. Begin by drafting a remote work policy that outlines expectations for working hours, communication, and productivity. Make sure to include guidelines on data security to protect sensitive information.

Specify the methods and frequency of performance reviews. Use tools such as 15Five for weekly check-ins and feedback. Clearly state the processes for requesting time off, handling conflicts, and reporting issues. Having all these details in one accessible document helps in maintaining consistency and accountability.

Pro-tip: Review and update your policies regularly to accommodate changes in business needs or remote work best practices.

Building a Supportive and Engaged Team

Fostering a supportive and engaged team requires intentional efforts and practices. Start by organising virtual team-building activities and regular check-ins to maintain social connections. Platforms like Kahoot! can be used for fun quizzes, while tools like Donut in Slack can facilitate one-on-one meetups.

Recognise and appreciate your team's efforts by celebrating milestones and achievements. Use peer recognition platforms like Bonusly to allow employees to appreciate their colleagues. These actions help in creating a positive work environment where employees feel valued and motivated.

Pro-tip: Run regular anonymous surveys to gauge employee satisfaction and identify areas for improvement. Use tools like SurveyMonkey for this purpose.

Evaluating and Adapting Your Remote Work Practices

Constant evaluation and adaptation are essential for the success of remote work practices. Schedule regular performance reviews and team feedback sessions to understand what's working and what isn't. Tools like Culture Amp can help in collecting and analysing team feedback effectively.

Be open to making necessary adjustments based on feedback. This could involve tweaking communication methods, updating tools, or redefining team roles. Remember, flexibility and responsiveness are key to maintaining a productive and happy remote team.

Pro-tip: Keep an eye on industry trends and best practices to stay ahead in remote work management. Subscribe to relevant newsletters or join remote work communities for insights.

Transitioning to a remote first company involves meticulous planning and commitment to maintaining effective communication, defining clear policies, and building a supportive team environment. With continuous evaluation and adaptation, your business can thrive in a remote setting.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How to run a remote first company?

Prioritise clear communication, use effective collaboration tools, and foster a supportive team culture. Regularly review and adapt your practices to ensure they meet your team's needs.

How to set up a remote company?

Define your company’s core values, choose communication and collaboration tools, create clear guidelines, and build an engaged team. Evaluate and adapt remote work practices continuously.

How to build a remote work company?

Focus on establishing a clear company culture and values, use the right tools, have well-defined policies, support team engagement, and regularly evaluate your remote practices.

How to get started with remote work?

Start by outlining your remote work policy, choose essential communication tools, create a supportive environment, and provide regular feedback channels for your team.