Running Remote: Unlock the Secrets of Remote-First Businesses

IRI Podcast Episode on Remote Business

In 2020, the pandemic forced many companies to embrace the concept of remote work,. Some adapted to this new way of working with little disruption, others struggled with the transition – but the businesses that suddenly found themselves at the forefront of this new normal were the ones that had always operated remotely. Our guest today is Liam Martin, the Co-Founder of Time Doctor, Co-Organizer of the Running Remote conference and author of Running Remote: Master the Lessons from the World’s Most Successful Remote-Work Pioneers. Here, he explains:

  • How "remote-first" companies fared during the pandemic;
  • What "asynchronous management" is, and why it's so important;
  • Why practicing "deep work" makes your team more productive; and
  • How remote work improves personal health, the environment, and work-life balance!

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Developing a Remote Business

  • Remote businesses have been around for the last 20 years, but there were far fewer resources and much simpler technology.
  • Remote work has really grown over the last 6 years or so, and completely exploded during the pandemic.
  • If a thousand companies started remote and another thousand companies started in person, there would likely be an initial boost of innovation from the face-to-face companies, but as the companies scale, the remote companies would overtake the process and become more innovative over time.


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Remote Workforce

  • In February of 2020, only 4% of the U.S. workforce was working remotely, but by March of 2020, 45% of people had pivoted to working remotely and running a remote business because of the pandemic.
    • Today, 35% of people are working entirely remotely or in a remote capacity, and that proportion is expected to grow within the next 5 years.

Running Remote

  • The pandemic was a huge boost for businesses that already knew how to operate remotely, and because Mr. Martin had already run a successful tutoring business for more than a decade, and led conferences on remote work, business leaders were turning to him for advice on how to run a remote business.
  • Business leaders are able to learn how to more effectively run a remote business using asynchronous management.
  • This book is focused on the remote-first community, meaning people who were working remotely before the pandemic, and were pioneers to that work style.
    • The benefit to this is the way their work is structured is different, and is not just an in-person job with back-to-back meetings on Zoom. Many remote-first companies use less conference calls, and practice “deep work” which allows employees to zero in on one task without interruption. 
    • Asynchronous management optimizes the amount of deep work and the workflow of every team member in the organization. 
  • Running Remote is designed for business founders and heads of remote HR departments to teach them about how to run a remote business. The organization’s goal is to build multibillion dollar remote and hybrid companies.

Shifting to Remote Work

  • The pandemic forced an intense launch into remote work which became a hard start back to the future of work.
  • The pandemic also launched the digitization of the economy. While other companies like Netflix and Shopify had done it before, and they blew up, COVID accelerated this process for other companies and industries as well. 
  • This shift to remote work is very likely going to be a permanent shift in the way businesses run, and more companies will put resources in how to run a remote business. 
    • Companies will not only sell products online, but use it as a way of facilitating labor
  • Now, the question is how companies are going to transition into a work as normal situation in a post-COVID world.
  • In a primarily remote-working world, cities would no longer be places where people work, but places where people live.
    • Boulder, Colorado had the highest number of remote workers in North America prior to the pandemic.
  • Remote teams that apply asynchronous management are more autonomous and the key to running a remote business is to create a world where workers know what they need to do, and management is clear about tasks, expectations, and monitoring.
    • This will also help companies get more work done, more efficiently without operating costs. 

The Effects of Remote Work

  • Many employees who work from a computer will likely be remote at some point. A McKinsey study revealed that about 67% of the US economy could work remotely at any given point, and this data is likely applicable to most of the world.
  • What is important for companies to understand about running a remote business is how this civilization shift affects employees outside of working hours, and its repercussions on the rest of the economy.
  • Remote work could be much better for personal health, the environment, and work-life balance. 
    • Now it is on business leaders to rethink management styles and workflows to better reflect a post-COVID world.
  • Remote workers are reportedly happier than on-site workers, in fact every remote worker with a eNPS (Employee Net Promoter Score) rating is on average double of the rating of an in-person employee.
    • The two reasons that remote workers gave for their happiness was the sense of autonomy and freedom to work in a way that makes sense for them, as well as flexibility in where and when they work.
    • Women also reported higher eNPS ratings, especially those who juggle childcare responsibilities.
  • However, there is other data from companies that indicate that there is a need to go back to work to maintain corporate office leases. 
  • The major difference between working remotely and working in the office is the lack of distractions and interruptions that come with remote work.
  • The role of managers, both in-person and remote employees, is to increase the amount of deep work for their employees and reduce their amount of disruptions.
  • The efficacy of remote working depends on the size of the company and their leadership structure. 

Time Doctor and The Running Remote Conference

  • Mr. Martin is also the co-founder of Time Doctor, which pulls data from project management tools and measures how long it takes to complete tasks.
    • This program is especially helpful for remote businesses to keep employees on track, and using data to help remote businesses run more efficiently.
  • Time Doctor is a tracking tool for remote teams that combs through different tools used by businesses to track exactly how long it takes to complete tasks, and keeps teams accountable for how long they are spending on each task,
    • HR teams can also use this tool to make sure that employees are not getting burned out, and that team leaders are not getting overloaded.
    • When people work remotely, it is helpful to be able to monitor progress over time.
  • More information about Time Doctor can also be found on their YouTube channel
  • Mr. Martin also runs the Running Remote Conference which is the largest remote work conference, bringing in remote-first companies to share their experiences and techniques.
    • The remote started with just 70 people before the pandemic, and after COVID hit, everyone wanted to know how these remote companies operated so well. 
    • The conference is specifically built for business founders and heads of remote HR departments to teach them about how to run a remote business. 
    • Talks from the Running Remote conference can also be found on their YouTube channel

Liam Martin Background



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