More and more companies are adapting remote work or staying fully remote even when the pandemic seems to be taken under control. But what about companies that were remote to start with?
Witivio is a fully remote startup, founded in 2017 by Nicolas Humann and Tanguy de Chanterac. Its mission is to improve employee experience developing chatbots, and other useful applications for Microsoft Teams.
“We actually met in September 2010, when I started an internship at a previous company we worked for. Nicolas helped me a lot, and that’s the first time we worked together. We worked together for one year. Then my internship ended and I came back [to the company] and we worked together for two more years. After that we started Witivio,” said Tanguy.
Witivio co-founders note, that being remote removes the restrictions in recruiting personnel, which is a huge opportunity for building a throng team with the best experts from all over the world.
“Managing the team and finding the best talent with the best skills is always a challenge. Being remote allowed us to recruit the talent where they are. We are not limited by only recruiting people in Paris or in any other specific location. We can recruit someone anywhere, there is no limitation.” Nicolas
As attractive as it sounds to work fully remote, with all the flexibility that comes with it, it doesn’t exclude some challenges. The hardest part during remote work, according to Witivio co-founders, is building personal relationships with the colleagues. Most communication within the company concerns work and everything connected to it: there is almost no opportunities for a casual chat on not work-related topics.
Nicolas and Tanguy explain that understanding the difficulties of remote work is a key factor that is driving their team to create best possible apps for Microsoft Teams. The employees at Witivio use their daily experience to come up with and share their ideas within the team, which is later applied in the app development. They believe that apps that are created based on struggles of real people turn out more user oriented and helpful.
“The main challenge of being 100% remote is to keep the company culture and to have relationships all together. It’s not just about work relationships, it’s also knowing some personal things, hobbies, families. It’s not just about being together only for work,” said Nicolas. “The first office of the company was in Lyon; we have a couple of employees there. Other than that, we are all remote and we decided to stay remote to be able to hire people from everywhere. There are still some people [at Witivio] that we haven’t met personally.”
A year ago, when COVID-19 pandemic has shocked the entire planet, not all employers were able to quickly respond to the situation related to the spread of the virus. For many, it was an unsolvable issue, since not everyone’s job function implies the possibility of telecommuting. However, for fully remote companies like Witivio, it was a no-brainer.
“In our internal organization, our clients and customers is where we were impacted [by COVID-19 pandemic]. It impacted us indirectly because some projects and some prospects just stopped one day. This was the main impact from the business point of view.”
However, the company had no problems in communicating internally or with clients. In a remote mode, not only current affairs and upcoming projects are discussed, but also presentations, webinars and workshops are held, problems are eliminated, applications are tuned and refined.
“I would say that inside Witivio there was no change at all. We were used to it, and we had all the communication tools needed to work remotely,” Tanguy commented.
Some executives still want to stick with not allowing their employees to work from home because they did not want them to rely on virtual communication. They firmly believe that face-to-face communication – in the same building, in the same office, between employees and managers – was the key to a sustainable and successful company.
The pandemic taught us to look at this from another perspective. Since closing offices in March 2020, many teams have evolved and found inspiringly creative ways to work together and support each other. Transparent communication and streamlined documentation system ensure efficient work, even being remote.
Witivio proves that being fully remote not only is doable, but it also allows more flexibility, trust between colleagues, and a more productive goal-oriented work environment. Remote work is our future, as more technological opportunities to make this format becomes available to more companies. In the end of the day, company culture comes from people, and not from the physical space in which they are located.