How do you hire a remote worker? How does async communication work? The most frequently asked questions about remote work answered.
Remote work is work arranged in a way in which employees do not work in a traditional office environment or a central place of work. Instead, remote workers work self-organized from their homes, in shared offices, coffee shops or public offices and libraries.
Employees save the time of their commute (avg. 1h/day in the US) and gain flexibility to get work done on their own time.
Employers get access to a global hiring pool, reduce micro-management, save money on office and transportation cost and improve retainability.
Remote teams are bound to online methods of communication. The preferred way of conducting conversations day-to-day to overcome timezones and different schedules is async communication.
While async communication commonly happens on mediums like e-mail, Twist and Slack, synchronous communication (such as meetings) are usually done through a meeting platform like Zoom.
Today, remote work is no longer confined to small, bootstrapped "lifestyle" businesses. GitLab has over 1,000 employees worldwide, Coinbase and their 1,200 employees are going remote too.
Other popular remote teams include Doist, Buffer, Basecamp, Zapier, parts of Stripe and Automattic.
Remote-first is a habit of taking decisions and creating initiatives with remote workers in mind first. As such, all employees are remote by default, even if there is an office.
This and many other remote-related terms are further described in our Glossary.
Unless you are planning on opening a new entity in a country you'd like to hire in, you won't be able to onboard employees legally as "employees". Instead, there are other options.
You may be able to convince employees to come onboard as independent contractors, you might be able to utilize an EOR service that hires the employee for you or you might be able to use more generic payroll services. All options on a per-country basis are listed here.
Async communication is not just about the medium – it's also about making the best use of it.
Async communication works best in the written word, but videos/audio is also an option. Async communication is usually long-form and should convey emotions to minimize misunderstanding. Emojis work great for that 👍
It's hard to put productivity into one metric, but research is showing that remote employees and maximize their efficiency, are usually more satisfied with their jobs and in return are also retained for longer, than their in-office counterparts.
A big part of remote work is trust. If you feel like you need surveillance to know if your employees are at work, remote work may not be for you.
Successful remote teams are measuring work by output, instead of hours. As such, work can be done on the employee's schedule, as long as the result are right.
Remote work is hard on a person's routine and well-being. Often, people work in isolation and don't communicate much with their colleagues. The missing commute is often an excuse to sleep in and not move much. Many new remote employees need time to get used to that.
Having meetings and short breakout and brainstorm sessions is difficult as well. Meetings should be pre-scheduled and have an agenda. That doesn't leave much place for unstructured thoughts.
Transitioning a team to being a remote team is tricky, but definitely not impossible, many have done it! The most important part is to prepare for this new style of working.
Daisy Linden of Coinbase, in charge of such a transition, recommends: "We’re combatting [burnout of remote employees] by piloting regular synchronized “days of rest” where the entire company takes a breath, by implementing best practices that help people to be more empathetic about timezones and calendars, and by providing resources for employees to create healthy boundaries."
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