CanadianSME got an incredible opportunity to get into chit-chat with the VP of Operations at Route4Me, George Shchegolev. Leading a 100% remote company ever since its inception, George talks about the challenges they faced and what other small businesses can learn from their journey. Additionally, he has some insightful tips for small business owners who are finding it difficult to manage a remote business amidst the face of a volatile market after the pandemic.
According to a recent survey, more than 40% of employees say they would start looking for a new job if their company does not provide long-term options to work from home. Why do you think this is more important now than ever before?
Put simply, remote work allows us to get work done better. Not too long ago, the idea of “remote work” was achieved by a relatively small percentage of professionals. As with every wave in technology, there are always the first adopters who typically pay greatly for, and can afford to pay for, a luxury. The second and third waves of adoption then further fuel wide-scale adoption. If you think of a luxury good or service from 30 years ago, for example, the Personal Computer, or PC. The adoption waves started out very expensive with only a few able to attain them. However that “luxury” slowly became more affordable and eventually, with enough adoption it became cheap, standard, and inarguably a necessity. Could you imagine starting a company or even surviving in a company in today’s world without a computer of any kind? Interestingly enough, when luxuries become necessities, it tends to spawn new obligations. Today everyone has email and that’s become a new obligation. The ability to “remotely work” is a natural byproduct of ever-increasing productivity and efficiency that allows us to be better and manage more while still maintaining balance in our everyday lives.
Your company has been 100% remote ever since you started back in 2009? Why did you choose a remote model of work?
It’s simple really. We wanted to build the world’s best product and to do that we knew we needed the world’s best people. For a company that’s on a mission to save the world, we realized on Day 1 that we had to think differently and that it would be insane to think we could recruit the best talent from around the world and expect them to change their lives, uproot, and move to “our office”. There’s no benefit in the world that we could give to people, no amount of “free lunch” or “foosball table tournaments” that can replace someone’s “home”. Being where you love and want to be is about choice and freedom. If we want the best people in the world, why would we ever ask them to choose?
How has the experience of working remotely been?
Working remotely is often cited by our team members as one of the greatest benefits of working at Route4Me.
How do you feel the business environment has changed since the pandemic?
Prior to the pandemic, there was a certain negative stigma associated with being remote, as if we weren’t taken as seriously as we should have because we didn’t have some physical office location. Now, it’s seen as a shining example of “changing with the times” and “being ahead of the curve”. It’s pretty normalized now whereas prior to the pandemic it was the exception.
Can you elaborate on some of the challenges you faced while mapping this unknown territory and what can other aspiring entrepreneurs learn from them?
TImezones are often a challenge so having set work hours for different parts of your organization enables greater productivity and collaboration. Much like a factory works different shifts this can all be managed and systematized.
What suggestions do you have for small-scale businesses that are finding it hard to pull through during these challenging times?
Ask yourself the hard questions. Are you an early adopter or a laggard? If you were selling fax machines in the year 2000 you were a laggard. In the year 2020, if you are selling a commodity good or service you might be at risk of becoming a laggard in 10 years with slowly declining sales. Look to the luxuries of today to see what will become the new necessities. Become an early adopter and ride the wave.