Remote Work: Advise from successful remote companies

Remote work

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“Remote work” search terms have increased exponentially over the past two weeks. Like it or not, many of us are now fully locked into working remotely for the immediate future. While some people may find their productivity has sky-rocketed since working from home without distracting colleagues and long commutes, many others may find the experience exhausting, isolating and unproductive.

So we’ve turned to some of the world’s most successful fully remote companies, with years of experience in working remotely to see what expert advice they have for newly remote workers.

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Advise from full remote companies about successful remote work

“GitLab conducts all meetings – internal and external – using a video conferencing platform. With no offices, we lean on video calls to maintain human contact. As participants in a video conference, we voluntarily enable a face-to-face interaction with a person (or persons) on the other side, which requires some level of courage and humility. “

GitLab, over 1200 fully remote staff in 68 countries.

“It may seem counterintuitive, but remote work can actually improve your social life because it forces you to be intentional about hanging out and making friends. We get better at the things we practice. So practice. And have fun.”

Zapier, over 300 fully remote employees in 28 countries. 

“One of the best ways to [increase productivity] is to break your timeline up into smaller milestones. Maybe that ebook needs to be launched one month from now—but what comes before then? 

Rather than having a singular end date, set dates for when you need to have the first draft of the copy, when the graphics should be designed, when the landing page should be ready, and so on. For an extra kick in the pants, set your deadlines in days (rather than months or years).”

Toggl, time tracker app with over 100 remote employees

“We also use tools like Harvest for time tracking, and quarterly check-ins to make sure everyone is on track with their core job responsibilities and individual goals during remote work.” 

Acceleration, a marketing agency with 45 remote employees.

“Communication, communication, communication. Because we must forego some of the natural conversations and interactions that happen when a team is co-located, we emphasize clear and frequent communication. For example, we practice Agile software development methods so our development team is in daily scrum meetings together.”

Seeq, over 100 remote staff.

“To feel connected with your spouse, roommate, or any kids who are home with you during the workweek, schedule some lunches and breaks together. Even spending five or 10 minutes every few hours can go a long way toward family connection. Taking a walk or a proper lunch break can be good for your relationship as well as everybody’s mental and physical health.”

FlexJobs, fully remote since 2007.

“One expectation that will help employees stay focused is to hold calls with mandatory video and audio access. Asking your team to share their workspace on video will ensure they’re actually attending the meeting, paying attention, and in a focused-environment.”

Belay via Forbes, over 100 employees and 1000 contractors, all remote.

“When you give a presentation in an actual conference room, chances are, you don’t just dive right in. You start with casual small talk. You can do the same before a virtual presentation—rather than jumping in, take a minute to acknowledge the humans present on the conference call. If a joke feels fitting, you can make one to lighten the mood.”

“Whatever you do, during remote work find a way to connect with the other members of the call before starting your scheduled programming.”

SkillCrush, dozens of remote staff across the U.S.

“The more remote you become, the more you need to lean into thoughtful communication. Most things aren’t urgent, but making them seem so will add a higher tax of anxiety that people who were originally colocated probably didn’t feel before. For our team, we tend to use real-time communication for casual hangouts, catch-ups, and celebrations, urgent situations and relationship-building (one-on-ones, masterminds, etc.).”

Buffer, fully global remote company with 85 employees.

Key takeaways

Focus on your communication, everything else is secondary. While you may be struggling with equipment, tech, productivity and stress, the one thing you can control is the how, when and what of communication. So focus on getting this right for now, and it may just help get everything else in line.

For more advice on remote work, remote communication and remote workshops, check out our blog. If you are looking for a piece of technology to help you collaborate remotely, start a 30-day trial version of the online whiteboard Conceptboard, our tool for boosting remote work.

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