The following is a guest post by Viktoria Lindner, CEO and founder of DRIVE!MPACT.
“In Barcelona, the demand for digital profiles has increased by almost 40% in one year, whereas the Profiles available have grown by just 7.6%” — Barcelona Digital Talent Government program
Why remote work?
Barcelona has become a hub for fast-growing startups, bringing with it a high demand for skilled employees. Although the city appeals to rapidly growing businesses, it isn’t the easiest place to relocate. As living a good standard of life in Barcelona becomes increasingly expensive, especially in relation to the average salary, it’s becoming less attractive to employees resulting in limited resources of highly skilled candidates. Getting your hands on lots of highly skilled employees is now a competition in itself.
Due to the limited pool of highly skilled candidates in Barcelona, companies now need to be more open in terms of employee requirements and allow the option for remote and flexible working.
DeVere Area Manager, Sophie Duong, comments that although you can easily find employees in Barcelona, when working in a niche industry it can be difficult to find quality or qualified employees. A Marketing Manager at Inditex Barcelona agrees –
“It is hard to find people with good experience who have worked on challenging projects, have management experience and bring new learnings to teams”
Having the structures in place to allow for remote teams gives startups access to candidates around the world, enabling them to offer an international, bilingual service and access the best talent globally rather than locally. It also provides companies easier access to different markets around the world.
OfficeAccord CEO Ben Comstock is based in Barcelona and his team is completely remote, which enables him to utilize more cost-effective resources in other regions.
Robin Alcedo Overbosch, the CEO of Studio RAO, prefers hiring remote employees as they grant access to overseas resources that give him the ability to offer a 24-hour service to his clients. As his position requires constant travel, hiring remote employees also gives him more freedom as there are no employees relying on his physical presence in an office.
For some people, the benefits are even more obvious.
Make More and Groove’s Managing Director – Jamie Blackburn, and his team, all work remotely, and the benefit for him is clear – ‘Sun’. Jamie has been managing his company from Barcelona for almost a year now, having initially tested it for a few months to see if it worked, and it did. Now, working remotely allows him to live and work in the sunny, vibrant city that is Barcelona.
While some people might feel they need to be physically present to inspire their team, others find motivation and focus when they have the freedom to work on their own.
An Area Manager at deVere works remotely during EU client meetings – “[When working remotely you] get shit done! There is less distraction – as a manager, people tend to ask a lot of questions when on-site which can pull me away from other tasks.”
Remote work attracts highly skilled employees
In addition to the benefits it offers the company, remote work is also great for attracting highly skilled employees.
Jared Johnson, a freelance full-stack developer based in Barcelona explains why he loves to work remotely. “Personally I love working remotely. I love the freedom to choose where I work and not have to commute into an office”.
The ability to work remotely is often a huge benefit for employees, and in some cases can be the deciding factor in taking on a new position.
For Felix Oesch – Executive Consultant and Project Manager for Strategy Workforce, working remotely attracts him to a job as it gives him ‘immense freedom’, flexibility to organize his day and more time for personal activities.
Additionally, offering remote work can attract more Senior/Executive level candidates across many sectors comments Sophie Duong (Area Manager, DeVere). Remote work is also incredibly attractive to employees as they don’t need to commute to an office, and can even travel as they work. It also allows for increased flexibility and the opportunity to work from home, a huge benefit, especially for those with families, adds Robin Alcedo Overbosch (CEO, Studio RAO).
Remote work gives employees and companies flexibility
In a recent CareerBuilder survey of nearly four thousand workers, flexibility proved to be one of the biggest drivers of employee retention.
Ben (CEO, OfficeAccord) recognizes the importance of remote structures and says – “Remote work is the future of work. Millennials value their free time and flexibility more than previous generations”.
There are some issues – so do it right!
The benefits of setting up remote teams are clear, however, it is not always straightforward and there are some issues that need to be considered.
One major factor for many people is not physically working with your team. Jared Johnson (Freelance full-stack developer) finds he misses human interaction when working remotely.
Felix Oesch (Executive Consultant and Project Manager, Strategy Workforce), says the same –
“There is the big drawback of being disconnected with your client or team which technology is not able to solve yet. Communication can be more time consuming and face to face meetings give you a much better image of what your counterparty think and feel.”
In some cases, there are also drawbacks when it comes to the technical side, as a Marketing Manager at Inditex comments that access to internal servers can be slow and can only be accessed from secure wifi (aka no Starbucks).
How to overcome these issues and set up effective remote structures
As there are some issues with setting up remote teams, it is so important to do it properly and with concrete, clear structures.
Communication is important
Robin Alcedo Overbosch uses tools, such as Git, a lot to manage remote teams and projects. Tasks should be organized in a way that can be done remotely and Robin even tailors jobs to be effectively carried out by remote teams.
Communication channels should be set up so that employees know what to use and when. Robin uses Slack and Trello to communicate and manage projects with his team, as does Jared Johnson, along with Microsoft teams and DevOps.
Ben Comstock finds Outlook, Skype, Zoom, and HubSpot very useful in managing remote teams as well as an in-house built project management tool.
Felix Oesch comments that when working remotely, communication needs to be clearer – whilst it might take more time to express/formulate what you ask for and time is needed for alignment, once a team is used to working remotely, things become very efficient.
Ben Comstock adds that the key to making remote teams work successfully is by making sure your employees understand how their role fits into the larger picture so they are more compelled to finish tasks on time so as not to hold up their colleagues on the other side of the world, –
“You must find those who are good communicators and who understand that their work affects others in other time zones making on-time task completion essential for progress.”
Ensuring employees feel part of the team is vital, this can be done in ways as simple as arranging team meetings via Skype/Zoom/Google Hangouts and having frequent updates and meetings with the team lead. Goals, KPI’s and feedback structures should also be used to make employees feel they are working towards a common goal and don’t become forgotten because they are not physically there.
How can you overcome the lack of human interaction when working remotely?
Felix Oesch works from a coworking space in Barcelona and prefers to work from a place that inspires him and allows him to develop himself further. He looks for coworking spaces that have networking events, meetups, and skill-sharing events.
Not only are coworks great for feeling part of a community when working remotely but they are also a honey-pot for highly skilled employees, knowledge sharing. They also offer direct access to colleagues with skills across a wide spectrum and can even be a great place to find employees.
Working remotely doesn’t necessarily mean you need to work on your own. In fact, Barcelona is becoming inundated with coworking spaces so that there is something to suit every person and every company.