When Michael Zima and his wife experienced yet another brutal Chicago winter three years ago, they had only one thing on their mind. Get out. Their decision to move led to a fresh life abroad, a new business partnership for Michael, and an unconventional way to run a company that begs the question: is working remotely the way of the future?
Zima Media originated nine years ago when Michael Zima was working as an SEO consultant. He obtained jobs through Fiverr, an online marketplace for freelancers, and began working for one of the largest SEO agencies in North America. Michael and his wife were unhappy with the ruthless Chicago weather and wanted to move to a place better suited for them. After accepting a position at Praxis Metrics, Michael and his wife pursued their wish and moved to Barcelona.
Michael first became acquainted with his Zima Media co-founder, Damien Bouvier, in 2015 when they worked for the same startup. Damien was working remotely from Texas and, even though they had never met, they were still able to build a professional relationship through chats and emails. When the decision was made to found their own company, Michael states trusting someone he had never seen in person was not as difficult as one would imagine. With their past experience, both founders had proven they could rely on one another and thus Zima Media became what it is today.
Meeting for the First Time
Through online platforms like Fiverr, Michael and Damien were given the opportunity to expand Zima Media from a consulting business into an independent company. What originally started off as a two-man operation has grown to include eight employees, spanning clients in over thirty industries and eighty countries. Since the birth of their company, Michael has been working from Spain and Damien has been living in France. Curiously enough, they still have not met face-to-face to this day.
After four years of working together, Michael and Damien will finally be meeting in London to discuss business on July 29th. Although it is a momentous occasion, Michael states the meeting is almost unnecessary given his and Damien’s incredible rapport and online communication. Communication, Michael says, is one of the most crucial keys to not only remote operations, but to the success of any company. He and Damien chat every day through emails, video, and online channels such as Slack to ensure things are moving smoothly. With Michael having his own son to look after, discussing business from the comfort of his own home is not only more convenient for him, but for his employees working remotely as well.
Benefits of Working Remotely
For Zima Media, one of the incentives of running a business remotely is the save in cost. Traditionally, companies have to pay for office space, supplies, internet connection, etc. According to MarketWatch, the average cost to rent an office in New York is $14,800 per employee. Zima Media is saving hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, not to mention the $2,600 their employees are saving by not commuting. From the looks of rapidly growing technology, remote operations like Michael and Damien’s may be the way of the future.
Currently, Zima Media has eight employees working remotely all over the world, including the Netherlands, Ukraine, Italy, Texas, and Oman. The marvelous part about having an international business is that it allows Zima Media to think on a global scale. The digital age has made it easier to connect with people across boundaries, so giving employees the freedom to work remotely seems like the next natural step for companies everywhere.
According to Michael, in order to ensure a remote operation succeeds, you have to enforce accountability. Whether this means finding the right employees, implementing a progress tracking system, or screen sharing, business will thrive only when every part of the machine is fulfilling its duty. Ultimately, it comes down to strong communication and allowing employees the chance to become leaders in their own right.
Working in the Future
As for what the future holds, Michael believes his son’s first job might be working online. Given the progression of online marketplaces like Fiverr, Dice, and Guru, finding a job you’re passionate about and a platform that fulfills your skills definitely seems to be our prospect. If anything, the success of Michael and Damien’s unique partnership is a testament to how much technology will shape industries in the years to come.
What are your thoughts about the future of working remotely? Let us know down in the comments.
This article originally published on GREY Journal.