The startup grind is as real in remote work companies as it is in physical offices.
How do I know?
Well, a couple of months back I joined Deekit on their growth team. We fit the mold of the aspiring tech startup with a world-changing vision. Our founders are all ex-Skypers, we went through the Techstars London accelerator last summer and we’ve taken some funding along the way. In today’s startup world, that’s a recipe for a shot at success. ‘A shot’ is as far as we can go at this point though as nothing is certain and there are no guarantees.
I am what some would call a “digital nomad.” I put that in quotes as it’s not a phrase I like that much, but that’s a whole different article. Anyway, what it means is that I travel and work online at the same time.
Luckily for me, Deekit has a distributed team. They live, breath and actively promote remote work. During these first couple of months with the team, I’ve seen first hand that the startup grind is very real in remote teams.
Although there are similarities between remote working and more traditional startups, there are also some pretty huge differences.
We over-communicate all day every day.
It’s weird not to see your colleagues every day in an office. It’s even stranger when you virtually wave to them ‘good morning’ on Slack. But that’s my life these days. We are a team of eight and it’s vital that we talk too much. It’s funny because in a normal office environment you may be told to stop being distracting but in our virtual office, chat is encouraged.
It’s as if the amount we talk is directly correlated to how successful we are. Maybe not on paper, but it sure as hell feels a lot better when you’re not posting emoji’s to yourself.
Remote work can get lonely. Not seeing the facial expressions of the rest of your team was something I found unnerving at first. But the constant chatter makes me feel at ease, weird right?
Remote work hours can be as crazy, but you skip the commute.
We don’t have any set hours, so as long as the work gets done, that’s all that matters. Working as part of a remote team is a strange paradigm. The fact that you don’t have to leave the house to get to work often leads to more time spent at your laptop. Just like regular startups, no longer are Saturdays off limits. Neither are the hours of 6pm – 2am. Everything is game.
The ‘work from anywhere’ thing has its pros and cons. On the one hand, I can be halfway through my daily to-dos by 11am. On the other, it means that I might be overdoing it sometimes. But when you’re going all in as any startup team do, the former definitely outweighs the latter.
Equally, being more in control of my time does actually make me much healthier. I can’t blame a lack of exercise on having no time anymore. I own all of the time, so no excuses!
Trust is everything when it comes to a remote job.
Because there is a lack of set work hours, trust is way more important in remote work environments. Imagine a world where there’s no boss checking in on you every thirty minutes? That’s the world I live in. I’m obviously managed to some extent and I have goals to hit, but I’m trusted to get things done when I say I’m going to do them. In a lot of ways, there are fewer ways to talk yourself out of unfinished tasks when you’re remote. When you commit to something, it’s on the screen, saved forever. You can’t glaze over it…
When you’re working this way, it’s more important than ever that you’re in it with people you trust. We trust each other to do what we’re supposed to do. There’s total transparency, without which, the whole thing would buckle.
I’ve become way more accountable.
Since I started working remotely over a year ago, I’ve seen my accountability skyrocket. I’ve definitely grown up a lot, both professionally and personally. While many twenty four year olds in my position would see this as an opportunity to do less, it’s pushed me to do more. A combination of being a part of a project you believe in but being granted the freedom to do the work whenever and however you want is insanely liberating. It’s like a personal growth accelerator. I am constantly challenged and forever evolving.
I’ve never felt happier than when I’ve free. Working as part of a remote team gives me that. I can work from anywhere and still be a part of a project I’m really passionate about. In two months with Deekit I’ve worked from four countries. Most startups I know couldn’t offer their whole team that sort of opportunity. But it’s a growing trend. There are countless businesses making this shift. It’s as if there’s something in the startup water…
Some final thoughts.
Joining a remote team was honestly the best decision I ever made. I can honestly say I’m living and breathing the way I think the future of work will pan out. I feel ahead of the curve.
As a lifestyle, it’s not for everyone. Being able to move around at will can lead to exactly that. It’s a fine line between traveling too much and not travelling enough. If you have this amazing opportunity to explore and earn at the same time, it’s hard not to take it.
If I had one piece of advice for someone considering joining a remote team, I’d tell them to take the chance.
Because working on a team with people who allow you to live life on your own terms is worth more than your salary alone.