Entrepreneur on a team call

United Kingdom 2 min

How has remote work affected entrepreneurs?

Written by
Nadia Vatalidis

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Remote entrepreneurship is a growing strategy in the era of distributed work, with more business owners now operating their companies without geographical constraints on hiring.

During the pandemic, business owners were forced to minimize expenses and decrease risk to survive. Our latest survey shows that of the U.K. companies that have moved to a remote or hybrid business model since 2020, 80% have made savings on their business costs. Because remote work allows for maintained (or even increased) levels of productivity, along with significant cost savings, running a remote business has become the preferred tactic for cost-conscious entrepreneurs.

To gain a better understanding of remote entrepreneurs, workers, and hiring, we surveyed 1,505 entrepreneurs who work remotely across the U.K., U.S., and Canada. This data reveals how founders in these markets run remote businesses and manage their distributed teams. Across our survey sample, 43.72% of business owners who work remotely report some of their staff as being located in another country.

Over half (56%) of U.K. remote entrepreneurs have hired international employees

Companies open to remote employees enjoy greater financial flexibility, a wider pool of accessible talent, and more interest from candidates looking for better life-work balance.

Hiring remote workers significantly increases the pool of available talent, allowing people from all over the world to work for the same company without meeting in an office.  

This survey asked 1,505 participants how many of their employees are based internationally to determine who is making full use of remote working opportunities. One in three (30%) of entrepreneurs in London stated that the majority of their team is based in another country. On a larger scale, more than half (56%) of U.K. remote entrepreneurs have hired at least one international employee. 

Canadian entrepreneurs have also embraced remote work, with 55% of Canadian remote entrepreneurs having hired international employees. 

See the table below regarding the state of hiring remotely across the U.K., U.S. and Canada:

Remote entrepreneurs attitudes to hiring% Responses (U.K.)% Responses (U.S.)% Responses (CAN)
Some of my team is based in another country29%10%27%
The majority of my team is based in another country19%5%18%
I don't hire anyone internationally and don't have any plans to19%37%21%
I don't currently hire anyone internationally but have plans to17%16%14%
All my team is based in another country8%5%11%
None of the above7%28%10%

Although the U.K. has adopted hiring internationally, entrepreneurs surveyed in the U.S. have demonstrated more reluctance when it comes to accessing and hiring global talent, with 36.73% of U.S. entrepreneurs stating they do not hire anyone internationally and don't have current plans to. Remote work has opened the door to a new way of hiring and working, so now is the time for entrepreneurs to assess how the changes to the employment and working model could work for them. 

By recognizing the limitations of local-only hiring and embracing the possibilities of access to global talent, businesses are better able to compete in global markets.

88% of U.K. remote entrepreneurs believe a hybrid or remote company structure has positively impacted their company culture 

The permanent shift to more remote work has already begun to demonstrate its impact on company cultures around the world.

As new patterns emerge, employers must keep the mental health and wellbeing of their employees in mind. 88% of U.K. entrepreneurs believe having a hybrid/remote company structure has positively impacted their company culture, leading to improvements in employee retention, satisfaction, and productivity. 

Here are the top five areas that have benefited from remote/hybrid working (U.K.):

Areas of positive impacts% Responses
More flexible and autonomous approach to work28%
Improved mental health and wellbeing25%
Improved employee satisfaction23%
Enhanced engagement and productivity22%
Helped improve workplace culture21%

More than a quarter (27%) of entrepreneurs stated a more flexible and autonomous approach to work is a result of their hybrid/remote company structure. This is likely due to increased adoption of asynchronous working, an approach to work that allows employees to be more flexible in when and how they perform their duties.

Only 9% of entrepreneurs said hybrid/remote company structure has not positively impacted their company's culture. For the majority, the positive impacts greatly outweigh the negative.

In the U.S., businesses reported even more positive effects of the remote switch:

Areas of positive impacts% Responses
More flexible and autonomous approach to work39%
Improved mental health and wellbeing36%
Improved employee satisfaction29%
Enhanced engagement and productivity20%
Helped improve workplace culture20%

Both the U.K. and U.S. name flexibility as the area with the most positive impact, wIth 39% of entrepreneurs in agreement.

We also surveyed entrepreneurs on what they perceive to be the main benefits of hybrid/remote working. One in three entrepreneurs (30%) states that the main benefit of the remote/hybrid model is that it allows more freedom and flexibility. 

Here are the top five reported benefits of remote/hybrid working from U.K. respondents:

What, if any, are the main benefits of a remote or hybrid model for your business? (Tick up to 5)% Responses
Allowing more freedom and flexibility30%
Offering a better life-work balance28%
Increasing productivity25%
Improving company happiness and morale24%
Reducing overhead costs23%

For remote entrepreneurs in the U.S., 48.11% also said that the main benefit of remote/hybrid working is freedom and flexibility. 

We discovered differences across gender as well, with 24% of male entrepreneurs saying a hybrid/remote company structure improves mental health and wellbeing, while a third of female business owners (33%) saying the main benefit of the remote/hybrid model is better life-work balance.

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More than 1 in 4 (26%) entrepreneurs have invested in team-building events, in person and virtually

Remote team-building is the process of integrating individual workers into a cohesive team while workers are spread across multiple places. Investing in team-building helps build trust and allows people to feel linked to a shared objective, improving efficiency and performance alongside morale.

To establish a good company culture starts with defined values, then continues through communication and hiring with those values in mind. When everyone not only works toward the same goal, but shares the same commitment to excellence, transparency, and ownership, great things can happen.

When we asked about which tactics were best for establishing great culture, we got a wide range of responses. Transparency ranked at the top, alongside expression of gratitude and providing positive feedback.

Ways to establish good company culture?% Responses
Actively encouraging transparency across your business21%
Expressing gratitude to employees and providing good feedback when due21%
Directly speaking to team members across the business20%
Encouraging open conversations from senior team members20%
Regularly reviewing company core values and mission18%

Building culture is not easy though, nor does it happen by accident. 11% of entrepreneurs have not put any measures in place to establish a good company culture. Because remote teams do not enjoy the same natural culture development that happens in physical offices, leaders of these companies must be more deliberate.

Healthy communication is a critical piece of the puzzle. 28% of U.K. entrepreneurs said they use encouraging feedback to communicate more effectively, engage, and build trust. In addition, almost a quarter (24%) of entrepreneurs said showing appreciation is an effective way to build culture. 

Employee engagement, retention, productivity, and morale may all be improved by demonstrating appreciation. 41.32% of entrepreneurs in the U.S. said they have focused on showing more appreciation while also providing encouraging feedback (35.33%). No matter what the environment, people tend to seek interaction to feel valued and appreciated. 

Almost half of entrepreneurs (47%) have said their priorities have changed for the better since moving to a remote model 

Flexible work arrangements have brought into question traditional employee-employer relationships, work time and working hours, and work-life balance. 46% of entrepreneurs in the U.K. say their priorities have changed for the better since the shift to remote work, including better life-work balance and increased motivation to do the things that matter.

Priorities outside of work% Responses
My priorities have changed for the better e.g. better life-work balance, happier, more motivated, more time for friends and family47%
My priorities have remained the same42%
My priorities have changed for the worse e.g. less human interaction, loneliness, struggling with establishing team culture11%

In the U.S., more entrepreneurs say they have seen a change in their priorities (51.26%) and agree those priorities have changed for the better, while 42.23% of U.S. entrepreneurs say priorities remain the same. 

Priorities outside of work% Responses
My priorities have changed for the better e.g. better life-work balance, happier, more motivated, more time for friends and family51%
My priorities have remained the same42%
My priorities have changed for the worse e.g. less human interaction, loneliness, struggling with establishing team culture7%

39% of remote business owners have had to overcome financial challenges

For those looking to start their own businesses, we asked remote entrepreneurs what their biggest challenges were and what they believe to be the top benefits.

According to our research, 39% of entrepreneurs say the challenge they had to overcome at the beginning of their journey was financial in nature, e.g. securing funding. 

Another 35% of entrepreneurs say the challenge they had to overcome at the beginning of their journey was work-life balance challenges, e.g. a negative impact on their health. 

Key challenges% Responses
Financial challenges e.g. securing funding, finding customers39%
Work-life balance challenges e.g. negative impact on the health35%
Personal challenges e.g. social rejection, facing criticism, staying committed29%
Creativity challenges e.g. ineffective marketing27%
Planning challenges e.g. failure to plan, lack of demand26%

Unsurprisingly, many entrepreneurs also reported facing challenges related to coronavirus restrictions and lockdowns. 

Being your own boss is what entrepreneurs enjoy the most

There are several reasons people opt to start their own businesses. Some do it only for financial gain, while others do it to help the community. Owners frequently start businesses for one of the following reasons: expansion, increased profits, inheritance, independence, fulfillment, control, influence, or challenge. Over a third (35%) of entrepreneurs in our survey say the thing they enjoy the most about starting their own company is being their own boss.

What, if anything, do you enjoy most about starting your own company?% Responses
Being my own boss35%
Controlling my lifestyle and schedule29%
Feeling pride in building my own business28%
Challenging myself24%
Following my true passion24%

Entrepreneurs from the U.S. also highlight being their own boss as being the aspect of entrepreneurship they enjoy most. Starting your own business can also be a way to express yourself effectively or manage your time more to your convenience. 

What, if anything, do you enjoy most about starting your own company? (Tick up to 5)% Responses
Being my own boss55%
Controlling my lifestyle and schedule44%
Following my true passion32%
Taking ownership of my career31%
Challenging myself31%

Remote businesses will continue to claim a greater chunk of the global economy as more entrepreneurs recognize the value of location-independent growth. If you’re looking to take the plunge into entrepreneurship — or if you have already done so and you’re looking for an edge to grow — transitioning to a remote-first business model may be the key.

As part of that remote-first strategy, you’ll likely need access to talent in multiple locations. But knowing where to hire can be a challenge. Check out Remote’s Country Explorer for more information on where you can hire full-time remote employees and contractors all around the world.

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