Are you ready to go all in on the work-from-anywhere lifestyle? We don’t mean occasional freelancing or changing into your daytime jammies before logging into Zoom meetings from your kitchen table. We’re talking about taking a leap off the professional deep end. Doing a cannonball into a life you probably couldn’t have imagined a year ago, let alone five years ago.
Hold your nose and kick off your floaties, because you’re about to take the plunge into the world of fully distributed work.
What Is Fully Distributed Remote Work?
Fully distributed companies are the next level in the remote work revolution. True to their name, fully distributed businesses have no office space or headquarters, instead employing staff members from multiple geographic locations across the country or around the world. This isn’t remote work as you know it (that’s so 2020). The future is in fully distributed remote work where companies operate much like traditional businesses, offering employees similar benefits, culture, and compensation, but without the cubicles and commute.
As you might imagine, the Coronavirus was the catalyst for more companies to take up the fully distributed mantle. Before the outbreak of COVID-19, only 3 percent of businesses were considered fully distributed. That’s expected to grow as high as 30 percent by the end of 2021.
Every day, companies big and small, from Twitter to GitLab and many more, are increasing their percentage of distributed employees. And it makes sense. Distributed companies cut down on overhead, benefit from increased employee productivity, and expand their business quicker than traditional companies. If you’re looking to join the fully distributed ranks, you’ll need to know what to look for in the best fully distributed companies.
Key Qualities of Fully Distributed Companies
Remote work offers a lot of perks, but also a lot of disadvantages. Working from home can feel more like a chore than a fulfilling career, and freelancing or contracting often can’t provide the stability (or income) you’re looking for. Fully distributed companies offer the best of both worlds, allowing you to work from wherever it suits you, while also providing you with professional growth (and a paycheck) you can count on. When evaluating fully distributed companies, here’s what you need to look out for:
Emails are great, but they only get you so far. You want a company that knows how to communicate with employees and how to give them a space to communicate with each other. Tools like Slack (our choice at First Page) offer instant messaging capabilities grouped into channels, so you can communicate openly with the right employees and start a conversation. Our Slack channels are grouped by client and team for easy management and accessibility. We also include some “just for fun” channels to give our team a place to goof around, share dog pics, and build a solid remote culture (more on that in a bit). When looking at fully distributed companies, make sure they communicate clearly and provide the resources needed to make connecting virtually as easy as it would be in a traditional office.
Seamless Processes and Tools
Juggling an ever-evolving tech stack is a challenge freelancers and independent contractors know all too well. When each client uses a whole toolbox full of different apps and platforms, the constant shuffle between them can be counterproductive and endlessly frustrating. A fully distributed company provides the same tools to all employees and has clearly outlined processes in place that cover the business from end-to-end.
When you think about workplace culture, it’s usually pretty dependent on the place of work. But even remote, fully distributed companies can have thriving cultures that promote relationship-building between employees and lead to greater job fulfillment. For instance, at First Page, we participate in quarterly "Donut Dates" where team members are randomly paired for a virtual coffee date (or mimosas, or whatever floats our boats). There aren’t many rules for Donut Dates, other than no shop talk allowed. It’s a time we can get to know each other on a more personal level and chat with coworkers — something our remote lifestyle would otherwise never allow. The best fully distributed companies take culture seriously, and work to create an atmosphere that is conducive to good work, along with good working together.
Commitment to Diversity
Diversity and inclusion are more than buzzwords in today’s workplace. But when your workplace is the entire world, there are far more opportunities to include employees from all various cultural, social, and ethnic backgrounds. However, an equitable virtual office doesn’t happen by itself; it requires conscious effort and careful planning by the company doing the hiring. Look for a fully distributed business that is clear and detailed in its commitment to diversity and inclusion. Remember that a diverse team can include different races, gender identities, abilities, and more. At First Page, part of our commitment to equity is to always have a majority of females on our team (and “pay gap” is not in our vocabulary). We are proud to have a team of experts from a wide variety of cultures and backgrounds, located all around the world, bringing their own unique perspectives and worldviews to the table.
Fully Distributed Remote Work Companies
Now that you know what a fully distributed company is and what qualities to look for, you probably want to know where to find them. Lucky for you, there are many places to seek out companies that value distribution and find the one that’s the right fit for you. Here are some of the best places to start:
FlexJobs: The leader in matching remote workers with remote jobs, FlexJobs is easy to use and has a large database of fully distributed job openings.
Glassdoor: While not totally focused on remote or distributed jobs, Glassdoor’s rating system offers clear insight into the companies you’re looking at and provides reviews and rankings that help you identify and analyze the qualities you’re looking for in a distributed job.
Remoters: With resources and job searches tailored to remote workers, digital nomads, and distributed employees, Remoters is one of the top places to start your job hunt.
We Work Remotely: WWR is focused primarily on community and on connecting remote workers with jobs tailored to their needs.