Even before the pandemic of 2020 imposed it on most working populations, this book was published as a manifesto for remote work.
Since its inception, Basecamp, the startup behind project management software Basecamp and now the email service Hey has worked remotely. They had an office in Chicago before 2020, but most of its workers were dispersed worldwide, and those in Chicago were free to come and go as they pleased.
They transitioned to 100 percent remote work as the virus spread, and they are now completely office-free.
Remote work will continue to be a part of our life as we move back to whatever our new normal will be, so we must learn how to do it successfully.
Join us as we look at how one of the world's most successful small businesses manages to work from home and make it work for both the firm and the workers.
The Time Is Right for Remote Work.
There are several reasons why now is an excellent time to try remote work.
Your best work doesn't happen in small fragments.
The office has always been the last place where people desire to accomplish genuine work. Because offices are the world's finest interruption manufacturers, slicing and dicing your time into little chunks and then disrupting what's left with ad hoc demands.
Any form of important job needs extended amounts of quiet time. Creative work, strategic work, and planning work all require time and space to "get into the flow." And you'd be fatigued if your sleep was interrupted every 15 minutes or half-hour.
Your finest work is like that - not very good when you can only do a few things at a time.
People are wasting their lives commuting.
We rarely consider this, although it significantly influences productivity and happiness.
If your commute takes 45 minutes each way, you'll be commuting for about 400 hours each year. That's ten weeks' worth of effort just getting to and from the office. Not to mention the cash you'll have to pay for the privilege.
Most work doesn't need to be done from 9-5
One of the most significant advantages that technological advancements have provided us (apart from work that requires people to be present in-person to do, such as manufacturing) is working asynchronously.
You may, for example, organize your work around your family's schedule, the sleep patterns that give you the greatest energy, or other factors that make you feel fulfilled and "on" at work.
If you can break free from the 9-5 mindset, you'll reap a slew of benefits for your employees' productivity and well-being. It's a win-win situation.
However, because the 9-5 attitude is so deeply embedded in our culture, there are certain obstacles to overcome if you want to make it a reality in your company.
We'll take a look at these next.
Dealing with Excuses
People who don't want to "go remote" will come up with various justifications.
The first argument is that "magic only happens when we're all in the same room." There's no doubt that synchronous work has its place - much like a jazz band, live interaction may increase creativity, planning, and strategy work.
Nevertheless, as Hansson points out, and as the pandemic has demonstrated, that type of job can be done effectively using video conferencing technologies, some of which have even improved the process.
The second justification is that if you can't see people, you can't tell if they're working. But here's the thing: even if they're standing in front of you, slackers will always slack off.
Even if you can't see them, productive workers will continue to work. In fact, working remotely may require you to deal with your team's unproductive members.
People's houses are packed with diversions, according to the third excuse. This might be true, but it's surely not as bad as working in an office. If distractions at home are a problem for you, you may always work from a coffee shop, library, or co-working place.
The fourth justification is that having your employees work remotely puts them in danger of being hacked. As Hansson points out, there are several actions you can take to make remote work as safe as working in an office.
The fifth justification is that if huge corporations aren't doing it, why should we? This justification was more persuasive before the pandemic. Still, even before the pandemic, huge corporations such as IBM, Accenture, eBay, and others pushed remote work.
You may add numerous Silicon Valley tech behemoths to that list, who found that their employees were getting just as much (if not more) work done while working remotely, so they made it a permanent move.
Lastly, there's the justification that "we paid/paid a lot of money for this office." Of course, this is an excellent illustration of the sunk cost bias: it's illogical to factor it into your choice about whether or not to work remotely. You should only consider the costs and advantages of being a remote-first business.
Let's move on to how to do it successfully now that we've explored why you would wish to work remotely and the frequent reasons against it.
How to Collaborate Remotely
There are several things you'll need to get right to make the switch. To make the transition from in-person to remote employment, there are a few things you'll need to do right.
First, be certain that there is always some overlap between working hours. To get the best mix of asynchronous and synchronous work, ensure at least an hour of overlap in work hours, so you don't cause any significant cooperation delays.
Second, the social component of employment cannot be overlooked. People gather around the coffee machine or the water cooler in the office to mingle and take a break. Make sure that the technology you're utilizing allows for it and that you can still socialize.
Third, you must ensure that everyone is informed about what is going on at the organization. Consider starting a weekly discussion thread where everyone presents an update on their current work and their intentions for the following weeks.
Finally, go light on the meetings. One of the lessons we learned during the pandemic was that jamming people's calendars with Zoom and Teams meetings prevents them from getting any work done. It causes much more burnout than doing it in person. If you do it this way, you'll lose all of the advantages that remote work has to offer.
Be certain you give your employees the time and space they need to do their jobs effectively.
Beware the Dragons
It would be stupid to believe that even if you set up your remote work environment properly, there aren't any possible risks to be aware of.
The first stumbling block is cabin fever. During the epidemic, this was a major one. If you never leave your house, this will ultimately become a cause of concern. Get out of the house every now and then to work at a coffee shop or a co-working space. Do it even if your home office is your home base.
The second stumbling block is achieving work-life balance. Ironically, employers' greatest concern (that their employees will work less remotely) turns out to be absolutely untrue. Work, or more especially, being "always on," poses a greater risk.
Make sure you have a clean break between your job and your home life and that when you're finished with your work, you "log off."
The third blunder has to do with how you determine if remote work is right for you and your firm. Sending a single employee off to conduct some remote work is a terrible test since it isolates the single person. A better test would be for a full staff to work remotely and track the quality and amount (it will most likely go up and to the right in both measures).
Dealing with consumers, clients, and other stakeholders wary about remote work is the fourth trap to avoid. In this instance, the best option is to confront it and ensure that your job performance does not drop or, better yet, improves dramatically during this time.
Hiring and Keeping the Best
One of the most significant advantages of working remotely is that your talent pool expands significantly.
You'll start to locate qualified personnel in places you never expected to find them, such as other states or even countries halfway around the world. As you do so, make sure you don't skimp on communication quality; language hurdles might become a serious problem.
When it comes to employing remote workers, it's natural to want to be charming and sophisticated with your procedures.
According to the writers, avoid parlor tricks in your recruiting process by simply asking potential applicants to provide samples of the work product they'll be required to develop on the job. Take a peek at their portfolio if you're looking for a designer.
Ask customer support representatives to answer some questions they will most likely encounter on the job. And so forth.
And just because you're recruiting folks for remote work doesn't rule out the possibility of seeing them in person.
In fact, the writers recommend that you do so whenever possible because you'll learn a lot about them. Is it true that they arrived on time? Do they treat others with respect? Is it true that they are decent people? Going remote does not imply that the baby is thrown out with the bathwater.
On the other hand, if you find excellent personnel, you'll want to do everything you can to keep them. Teams improve with time as they learn to work together and develop chemistry that can only be achieved through time.
You may do minor things like presenting them with holiday experiences (rather than a financial incentive) and promoting and sponsoring their hobbies (possibly paid out of the money you'll save by having a small office or none at all).
Anything you can do to make your employees feel like working for you is helping them grow as people is a simple method for you to set yourself apart from any other firm they might consider leaving.
Managing Remote Workers
Now it's time to get down to business and talk about how to manage your remote crew.
To begin, you'll need to determine when the best moment to go remote is. If you've decided that remote work is the way of the future for your firm, the authors advise that you make the changeover as soon as feasible. If you can't start wholesale right away, start small now.
Second, remote work isn't a magical place where no work gets done; you'll still need to lead and oversee your team's efforts. And you can't do your job well if you don't know what your employees are working on in-depth.
So focus on the things that will assist you in doing so. And don't worry as much about when and where the task will be completed.
Make sure you have frequent one-on-one sessions with each team member to accomplish this. This will allow you to coach them on their job while maintaining a regular open channel of contact, which is very important while working remotely.
Third, even with its advantages, you'll want to make sure your team meets in person regularly. It's much simpler to collaborate with folks you've met in person. It's also a good idea to conduct a physical work sprint every now and then to finish or launch a huge project.
Finally, watch out for overwork rather than underwork. If you are doing your job as a manager, the task will be done just as well as if you were doing it in person.
People will be more likely to become burnt out due to the lack of separation between home and business. This may seem ideal, but burnout usually occurs at the worst possible time (when the pressure is on) and is difficult to recover from.
Life as a Remote Worker
Finally, we'll go through some of the things you'll need to think about as you prepare for remote job success.
To begin, establish a work regimen. Consider putting on your "work clothes" and getting that cup of coffee from the store down the road, even if you could easily roll out of bed and perform your job in your jammies.
Second, break up your day into manageable bits. Have time for catching up, cooperation, and serious work that demands you to be in the zone, at the very least.
Third, ensure that you have a distinct work location in your house, preferably one that isn't shared with other activities.
Fourth, even if you have a set schedule, make an effort to branch out and explore new areas to work. You could discover a room that's ideal for answering emails, a location ideal for creative work, and a space ideal for video chats. Now that you are no longer tethered to your desk, use your newfound freedom to complete all tasks to the best of your ability.
The way we work is transforming, and if you aren't already performing remote work, you will be shortly. When you do, be sure you use the suggestions and tactics in this book to help you succeed.