Seven Common Mistakes Remote Startups Make And How To Avoid Them

Everything you need to know from hiring employees, managing them properly & ensuring effective communication in a remote startup.
Seven Common Mistakes Remote Startups Make And How To Avoid Them
Tim Ferguson

Remote work has become the new reality of the world, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. While it offers flexibility, shorter commutes, and better work-life balance to remote workers, companies benefit from reduced overhead costs, better employee productivity, and a high level of performance.

In fact, research shows that 71% of remote workers are happy in their current job.

However, with this sudden change, various remote startups still make tons of mistakes while hiring employees, managing them properly, and ensuring effective communication.

If you want to build a thriving remote company, just offering remote positions to employees is not enough. You need to manage them effectively.

But how exactly do you do that?

In this article, we’ll walk you through seven common mistakes remote startups make when managing remote or distributed teams — and how you can avoid them.

1. Failing to convey expectations

In a regular office setup, employees usually come on-site to observe the progress, systems, and skills required to complete the project. However, this isn’t possible when working with a remote team. There are high chances of misinterpretation of the company’s expectations, reducing overall employee efficiency and productivity in the early days. This also increases the risk of having unfinished projects.

One of the excellent ways to prevent miscommunication, is to plan ahead and make sure all the project details are clearly conveyed. Whether it’s your short-term or long-term goals, every team member should know what is expected of them. So, when they start working on a new project, they need to know what to do (and how) and when it should be done.

Remember: Strong management and communication are crucial for the success of a startup. These happen naturally when working in an office but are challenging to implement when someone is remote.

2. Limiting recruitment to local areas

Remote companies have access to top-tier talent from all over the world. However, there are still many startups that insist upon hiring employees from their local neighbourhoods only.

For organisations based in less-populous areas, it is a wonderful opportunity to look beyond the local talent market and access rare skill sets. You can find the best person for your job opening — no matter where that person lives.

Don’t limit your search to professionals in your local areas or even within your country.

Sure, recruiting people from different countries can cause language-related issues. But, you can’t ignore the benefits of a global talent pool, given the importance of accessing varied skills at lower costs.

3. Over-dependence on emails

Emails are one of the most popular modes of communication, especially at the workplace. However, when working remotely, excessive use of emails can breed a sense of disconnect among the workers, distract them from their work, and make them unorganised. Plus, it limits communication and does not allow the employees to communicate their queries effectively.

If you want to maintain a strong connection with your team, be sure to go for voice chats, video conference calls, and even apps — like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom — that encourage group discussions.

4. Need to always be ‘ON’

Remote work comes with many benefits, including flexible work hours, short or no commutes, and work-life balance. But, it does come with its share of challenges — the need to always be online, leading to more stress, fatigue, and reduced productivity.

Employees spend 90 minutes per day engaging in instant messaging.

When workers feel that they have to respond to every message instantly, they lose those chunks of time necessary for focused work, and usually take about 30 minutes to focus on work again.

The solution lies in asynchronous communication. This is when employees communicate without expecting an immediate response. Since it doesn’t occur in real-time, there’s a time lag before the recipient processes the message and offers a reply. For example, sending an email to be replied to later, updating tasks in Trello, sharing voice messages, and so on.

In an async environment, employees are not pressured to reply as soon as they receive the message. This gives them the time to think about a response, which is usually of high-quality than knee-jerk responses.

When team members can respond at their own time, it leaves them with an extended period of focused work, leading to high-level performance and productivity — a win-win situation for all.

5. Absence of the right tools

Communication is the most crucial element for the success of a remote startup. But without suitable tools and tech, it will be challenging to support effective communication, resulting in unnecessary delays in work.

Remote working SaaS tools can help people work remotely, from anywhere in the world. These include communication software, such as video chat applications like Skype and Zoom, cloud storage apps like Google Drive, project management tools like Slack, Trello, and Twist, and employee engagement tools like Hi5.

Remote startups need to be at the forefront of technology.

Tools to consider when going remote

  • For personal, real-time communication, use instant messaging tools like Slack or WhatsApp.
  • Use emails if there is an important message that you need to deliver.
  • For sharing permanent, long-form company information to employees, using video libraries, wikis, or intranet, and internal company blogs can be a perfect choice.
  • Project management tools, such as Trello and Asana, allows you to assign tasks to each team member and keep track of their progress.

Various SaaS companies use embedded integrations to add a variety of integrations with other tools. This helps users easily connect and integrate data from multiple systems, apps, and devices — all from within one application.

For example, Slack integrates with Dropbox to offer file sharing and cloud storage. Further, with Slack and Gmail integration, you can send new emails as Slack messages, get Slack notifications for new Gmail emails, and so on.

6. Not having an efficient onboarding system

You have hired a skilled employee for your next project. But, if the onboarding process is not on point, they may feel unmotivated throughout their employment days.

Onboarding a new employee might be easier in a physical workspace — showing them the new office, introducing them to existing employees, training them in the offices, sharing paperwork, and guiding them in case of any query.

Adapting onboarding procedures in a remote setup can be quite challenging.

Transitioning from paperwork to online forms and documents, using various remote tools to ensure proper communication, designing training modules, and hiring diverse talent from across the world can pose new challenges for a startup.

How to ensure an effective onboarding process

  • Send a welcome email along with the necessary documents and information like details about the work-day in the organisation or an invitation to join the company’s social media group. Hi5 handles these automatically once you invite your co-workers to join the company account.
  • Avoid sharing too much information unless you want to burden your new hire and confuse them.
  • Set up a welcome video conferencing call to introduce new employees to the rest of the team and foster a friendly and productive atmosphere for everyone.
  • At last, gather feedback from your new hire regarding the onboarding process to determine its effectiveness.

7. Problems with different time zones

As a remote startup owner, you might have hired employees from different parts of the world. While this offers the benefit of having a diverse team, it can still be difficult to figure out how to connect and work successfully across the different time zones.

Done poorly, you might run into frustration and disconnect with your teams on a personal and professional level — making it hard to retain employees and build a positive company culture.

Hence, the need is to coordinate the different time zones so that communication hours are suitable for all involved.

You don’t want an employee to log on to a 1 AM meeting when the other employee is coming from their morning stride.

Remember different countries have different ways of conducting business. So, make sure you and your team are aware of this.


Starting a remote company is a different ball game than having a brick-and-mortar business. But, the key to managing your remote team is similar to that of an in-office team — you have to keep them engaged, create a culture of trust and transparency, and make sure everything is aligned with business goals.

While trying something new, it’s natural to make mistakes that can impede the success of your remote startup. Hence, it is crucial to know some pitfalls you can make and how to avoid them. Hopefully, the aforementioned mistakes can help you figure out the right approach to manage your remote teams so you can move towards achieving your company goals.

About the Author

Tim Ferguson is a writer and editor of Marketing Digest. He helps marketing agencies with SEO, link building, content marketing, online reputation management, and blogger outreach. When he is not writing and editing for Marketing Digest, he spends time learning more about content marketing and getting better at it.

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