The advantages of being a remote-based agency

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We’d like to tell you how we run a distributed company. Why we chose this, what works, what doesn’t, and how it’s possible to be a global business of home workers.

Our entire workforce is home-based; this may not be possible for every business. A home-based nuclear waste processing is less than ideal. Even geographically-tied businesses will have people with functions which need not be carried out in an office. People who could function from their homes.

And everyone would be better for it.

We believe distributed teams are the future for many. Those for which being in the same place at once isn’t strictly necessary. With today’s technology for connecting people, why would you rent a large space, heat it, fill it with expensive equipment, pay extra tax for having it, install a telephone line, Internet, desks, chairs, then oblige everyone who works for you to come to that space, every day, without fail, by car, train, bus?

There is a viable alternative. Let people stay where they are! Send them a computer, let them expense a portion of their household utility bills which is much much cheaper, both environmentally and economically.

It’s not just the tech sector doing this. Wherever it is not strictly necessary to be based in an office, it should be decided that people should be able to work from home and companies may then only need hot desks and meeting rooms for a fraction of their actual number.

There’s nothing altruistic about this. The company benefits in numerous ways:

Unrestricted access to a broader talent pool

If we had an office in Manchester, we’d be restricted to hiring developers who know Drupal within a 1 hour commute. Sure, there are lots of good people around Manchester, but that narrows our pool when compared with the distributed model which allows us to hire the world.

We have staff in Spain, Lyon, Wales, Staffordshire (in fact, two staff coincidentally live around the corner from one another) to name a few.

The best talent

If people work from home, they are significantly better off financially. No expensive commute and they’re not held to ransom by city coffee shops and sandwich vendors.

People who work from home are time-rich. They don’t lose a couple of hours of every day commuting, so they have more time to spend with family and friends. We also combine it with flexitime, so parents can help out with school runs, those activity-inclined can spend 2 hours at the gym at lunchtime, if you need to nip out and do a quick shop because you’ve got friends coming over that evening, it’s never a problem.

Lower fixed costs

Offices are expensive.

Once you’ve factored in rent, taxes (business rates), utilities, furniture, refreshments, cleaners, the bill goes up and up. Sure, we pay back our people a percentage of their own utility bills, and we pay for their internet, but that’s nothing compared to an office.

We spend most of the money we save giving people independent study time, allowing them to go to industry events ‘all expenses paid’, funding big meet-ups and get-togethers for team building and a bit of a holiday each year.

We probably spend about the same amount of money, perhaps a little less, but that all goes towards the next point...

Staff retention

The obvious benefit is that we do nice things with the money we save, which is one of the reasons people like working at Code Enigma and are less inclined to leave. It’s no longer the case that if someone moves house they have to look for a new job.

We have people who have moved country while working for Code Enigma. One of our designers perpetually travels and continues to work for us. As long as people are prepared to be organised and disciplined about where play ends and work starts, there’s no problem with that.

So when our people move around, they don’t leave the company. They simply live somewhere else and work goes on.

Greg Harvey, co-founder and director, Code Enigma

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