Your remote company isn’t serious

I’ve heard this a couple of times from people that I respect:

“It’s great that you guys work remotely but we can’t because we have a serious business”.
why so serious?

That got me thinking of what serious means for them. Being remote has some clear advantages and is definitely not for every company — but it is very demanding and a big challenge in its own way.

To be 100% remote (not the “HQ in SF and devs in Europe” kind of remote), we can’t afford any face-to-face interaction with clients, so our products have to be fully self-serve. We only do e-mail and text support. No phone calls either (synchronous communication + changing time zones = big mess). All of this is set up in a conscious way — we are trying to depend on systems instead of social rules, which are normally easier to navigate.

Another big challenge you face is communication — everything must be in place and with the correct structure so the team communicates effectively. Face to face interaction smooths everything out. It’s much harder to set that system in place than sitting next to each other in an office.

Other “paperwork” that’s already complicated in a traditional setup (taxes, insurance, work permits, incorporation…) gets 10x complicated because there are very few remote companies and the bureaucracy of most countries is not prepared yet for this kind of companies.

So I not only think that being a remote company is serious — but probably more challenging than having a classic setup.