Pre-pandemic, fewer than 6% of Americans worked primarily from home. Fast-forward to today and according to research from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 59% of surveyed executives stated they are expanding their talent pool to workers who may not be in the same city, or even the same time zone, as their bosses. Running a remote company has many advantages: employers save on office rental, reduced equipment costs, and often see improvements in productivity. But for many CEOs, managing projects when their team is spread out across multiple locations is still a challenge.
It isn’t for Brett Allcorn, the CEO of Pineapple company. Since 2015, Pineapple, a fully remote company, has been creating innovative health supplements. Their remote team of more than 100 “A-player” employees from across the country enjoys working in their unique, flexible, remote environments.
Brett’s millennial childhood filled with digital, remote collaboration and gameplay gave him an intuitive sense that remote work could be entirely possible and effective. And he was right. He’s gone on to start two successful brands, win the GoGreen packaging design award in 2008, and gross over $10 million in revenue. Here are Brett’s tips on how to run a successful remote business.
- Set clear goals and KPIs – managers may have a desire to track the work of their employees, but it’s not about the hours, it’s about what people get done, done well and done on time, and that a person is available for meetings and communication when needed. If those criteria are met, then the employee is effective. And so, assuming this, the best way to lead an employee is by making sure projects and goals are very clearly set, that there are clear deadlines and that there is clear cadence of followup so projects get done on time. Flexibility given to employees makes them happier and more productive
- Overseas hire may be cheaper, but not better – often the time difference makes the workflow slow down and less efficient, there are also cultural and language differences that may impact the understanding of a task. I remember maybe 10 years ago that outsourced work was supposed to be the next big thing and people would brag how they could get a developer for only $10-20 per hour, but I guess the saying is true, that you get what you pay for. I’ve found that with all the extra time needed to communicate things due to language barriers and cultural differences, it probably ended up costing me more than it saved.
- Access to A-players for less money – with a remote company, you can hire nationwide, fill the jobs faster, get better quality people, and get people cheaper. ZipRecruiter, Indeed, and LinkedIn are the best places to find your team.When I hired my third employee, I decided to go outside of the state where I started my business. The benefits of this were immediately clear: I had 10x more candidates by searching nationally so I could fill the job faster and since I was in a very expensive city, I was able to get more affordable talent who had lower living expenses to cover. I was also able to attract a lot of candidates with unique situations. For example, many people I interviewed were being asked to relocate to a new city or had a sick family member – their life had changed significantly – and so they weren’t able to stay at their current job. I realized these were people I could really accommodate and I could find very talented people who, for whatever unique reason, couldn’t continue on with their current company.
- Offer your employees a fair contract – many remote companies hire on an independent contractor basis, and while this may be a good option if you’re hiring from overseas, to build trust and loyalty offer your employees full-time contracts, with other benefits, like PTO.
- Physical company retreats – it’s a great way to connect with your team, and for them to get to know one another, during a fun and productive time. Use this opportunity to show that the company is something they can look forward to, and get excited about. If you can’t afford to invite the whole company, invite your management team. Obviously there are downsides to having an all-remote workforce, and probably the biggest downside is lack of in person interactions. I’ve found these interactions help people build rapport and build stronger relationships. The best advice I can give is to make retreats fun and provide entertainment and activities that not only help the team bond, but make people look forward to retreats rather than view them as a drag. We also set our retreats in January and July so we can review past performance and plan into the future – which is a great time to have group discussions in person.
“I think the great thing about remote working is that it puts all the focus on the quality of the work and the goals, rather than nitpicking about who is doing exactly what at what time and what judgement you might come to as a manager about how hard that person is working.” – says Allcorn.
Brett Allcorn founded Pineapple Products in 2013 to help people optimize their health and well-being. He attended NYU Stern School of Business, as well as Parsons School of Design in New York City. From humble beginnings as a live seminar company during school, Brett has built Pineapple Products into an eight-figure business in 2021 that has doubled sales year-over-year for the past 6 years. Over that same timespan, Brett has also built an exceptionally strong, driven, fully-remote team that helps him solve Pineapple’s customers’ most pressing problems.