In the last 12 months, it's been interesting to see people's reactions about remote work change from "What do you mean you don't have an office?" to once the pandemic hit, "Wow, it's great to not have to commute!" to finally where most people are now: "Ugh, I don't even know when the day begins and when it ends!".
Our team is spread across 10 countries and 7 timezones and -- even though there are always things that we can improve -- the pandemic hasn't really changed anything for us work-wise.
How did we do this? In addition to using our own product, we also learned a lot from companies like Gitlab, Automattic, Zapier & InVision that have been distributed first for a very long time. After spending countless hours going through some of their best practices, these are the things they do to make remote work work for them:
1) START FROM A PLACE OF TRUST
"Assume your team is working and trying their best regardless if they are sitting right next to you or they are working from home."
Trust the people on your team to be able to work autonomously and when it comes down to written communication, always assume positive intent.
2) DOCUMENT EVERYTHING
Create a handbook that captures how your team does things and make this easily accessible to everybody. When the entire team is distributed it becomes crucial to document everything so nobody feels like they missed out on an important conversation or meeting.
3) ASYNCHRONOUS BY DEFAULT
Instead of relying on synchronous communication like real-time messaging or video calls make it easy to share information independent of time. Asynchronous communication doesn't require someone's attention right away so they can stay focused & productive.
4) SAVE MEETINGS FOR THE IMPORTANT STUFF
Face-to-face meeting time is one of the most precious commodities you have, so reserve this time for the more complex topics that aren't as easily discussed asynchronously. If you do end up meeting, make sure you make the best use of this time by providing an agenda in advance and sharing meeting notes afterwards.
5) FOCUS ON OUTCOMES, NOT HOURS
Longer hours and being online all the time is not equal to being productive. Instead, look at the quality and quantity of work measured against clearly communicated objectives.
6) MINIMIZE YOUR TOOL STACK
“Aim to funnel communication into as few places as possible to reduce silos and fragmentation.”
Simplify things for your team by minimizing the number of collaboration tools being used. This avoids confusion, prevents gaps in communication and makes it easier to find things.
7) RECOGNIZE GOOD WORK
Make the extra effort to recognize work that people on the team have done. This could be anything from a thank you message to the entire team to a simple 👍 once somebody completes something.
So what do you do with all of this? Like any new habit, some of these might be harder than others especially if not everybody fully commits to remote work or if the tools currently being used were built for a more synchronous, always-on environment. If you do end up adopting these -- remote work will become more of a joy, work will happen in a state of flow and you will get precious time back in your day.