More and more companies are relying on a remote workforce
At a typical office, you get used to seeing your co-workers every day in meetings, at the copier or in the break room. But going for days without seeing your colleagues is becoming more and more commonplace. David Felfoldi, for one, rarely sees his employees: They are all remote workers.
Felfoldi, a digital marketing strategist and co-founder of Sherpa Global, started his company in 1999 while he was still a student at the University of Georgia in Athens and commuting every weekend to a job in Atlanta. Felfoldi and his cofounder, a student at Georgia Tech, wanted the freedom to work wherever they pleased. Sherpa Global does have designated office space at Atlanta Tech Village in Buckhead, but Felfoldi is a firm believer in being a remote employee and boss.
Teleworking, for example, allowed him to go on a three-week honeymoon, the longest vacation he’s ever taken. “I took just four hours per week to work,” he says of the trip. “I’d never taken that much time off, and that was how I could do it.” Did his wife mind that he worked during their honeymoon? Well, during one of his four-hour work stints, she knitted him a hat to wear for a glacier hike in New Zealand.
Kenji Kuramoto, founder and CEO of Acuity, which handles financial details for entrepreneurs and startups, thinks teleworking allows for global recruitment. “It lets me ask, ‘Can I find the right fit?’ rather than ‘Can this person reasonably get to our office in Buckhead?’” he says. “You open yourself up to a greater number of candidates if they don’t have to come into the office.”
Offering teleworking is a great retention tool as well. “I had an employee who wanted to travel the world,” says Kuramoto. “He visited 27 different countries and worked for us the entire time. He’s incredibly loyal and got the job done.” That employee, in fact, began Acuity’s shift to becoming a telework-friendly firm. “Thirteen years ago, we were a traditional office,” says Kuramoto. “That employee was the one to challenge me. We learned a lot about ourselves as he traveled. Now we have no fears about hiring anyone from anywhere.”
Felfoldi says he has an employee based in Norway who visits once or twice a year. And he has three full-time web developers living in Uruguay and another web developer in Chile whom he’s never met. “We’ve [only] video chatted,” he says.
Felfoldi admits clients aren’t always as quick to embrace a remote workforce, so he has office space in Atlanta Tech Village where he holds meetings. He finds requests to telework are growing, though, and not just among companies with younger workforces or tech firms. “I can’t see how tech companies can’t offer at least one day of teleworking,” he says.
One obvious downside to teleworking can be the lack of human interaction. “The concept gives people flexibility, but the challenge can be isolation,” admits Kuramoto, who thinks that’s one reason for the rise of shared workspaces such as WeWork and Atlanta Tech Village. Of course, for the telecommuting premise to work, employees must be responsible and get the work done. “If we are giving you all this flexibility, you should be very responsive,” insists Kuramoto. “Hit your deadlines and we don’t care how or where you do it.”
AREA CO-WORKING SPACES
Being self-employed or a teleworker doesn’t mean you have to stay holed up in your house or get overly caffeinated at the local coffee shop. Here are four fullservice co-working spaces in Buckhead where you can work independently but still catch up with the water cooler gossip.
ATLANTA TECH VILLAGE
3423 Piedmont Road N.E.
COST: $300 a month for a hot (rotating) desk; $425 a month for a reserved desk. A day pass is $35 but doesn’t provide access to conference rooms.
3365 Piedmont Road N.E.
COST: Basic membership $139 a month; some rooms available for $50 to $65 an hour. A day pass is $20.
(opening April 2018)
3 Alliance Center,
3550 Lenox Road
COST: Memberships vary; call for prices.
Tower Place, 3340 Peachtree Road N.E.,
Suite 1010, Atlanta 30326
(with a second location coming this spring to the Terminus 100 building)
COST: $220 a month for a hot desk; private offices start at $520 a month; a pay as you go plan starts at $45 a month and allows you to book workspace at $50 a day or conference rooms from $25 an hour.
STORIES: Lisa R. Schoolcraft