More and more companies are shifting to remote work. This infographic explains why that’s happening, and what you need to know if you want to go remote.
To get the full scoop on how Toggl and other tech companies are adapting to remote work, you can read Out of Office – our full online guide to remote work.
What is happening with remote work?
Ever since this thing called the Internet came along, we’ve increasingly relied upon it to get our work done.
If you work in a technical field, the need to keep up with this trend is even more dire. In a massive survey this year by Stackoverflow, 53.3% of developers listed remote work option as the top priority when looking for a job.
The message is clear – adapt, or die.
What you need to know before setting up your home office
Remote work can make people happier. But as with every good thing, you have to do it right to make it work. This goes both for employees as well as employers.
If you’re serious about making the switch, we’ve written a pretty extensive guide to remote work, featuring tips and experience from other remote companies like Buffer, Gitlab, Zapier, HelpScout, Teamweek and others.
But if you’re in a hurry, here’s a rundown of some of the key points to keep in mind.
A successful remote culture starts with hiring
Remote work is not for everyone.
While it’s entirely possible to sit around and do nothing in the strictest of offices, working from home requires a lot of discipline. More than responsibility, you’ll need to stay motivated without all the stimuli of an office.
As remote work will continue to grow, the ability to work independently and organise your own work will be in high demand. The ideal remote worker is someone who doesn’t need to be guided every step of the way.
The worst thing you can do, especially when it comes to an environment where much of your communication is asynchronous, is hire someone who doesn’t have the confidence to figure out how to do things on the fly.
Communication is everything
There is no such thing as too much communication for remote teams.
When you’re working from home, you’ll miss out on a lot of information, both verbal and non-verbal that you have access to in an office. There’s no watercooler talk, overhearing conversations or seeing that someone is too pissed off to shoot a work related favour at them.
Over-communication becomes crucial to stay in the loop with what everybody else is working on.
Beyond work, lack of face-to-face time also means that it’s harder to maintain relationships. These would have to be maintained online somehow. Slack is a great option for chatting with colleagues and friends. The app gets quite a bit of heat for being noisy and distracting, but I’d say the random conversations that emerge in its public channels is the lifeblood of remote teams.
Sure, too much spam can be annoying, but keeping conversations strictly business oriented is terrible for culture.
Remote workers need hugs too
As much as we love Slack, we make an effort to give our remote teams as much face-time as possible – be it bigger company wide get togethers, or smaller team challenges.
The reason we do it boils down to this simple point – relationships are built face to face and maintained online, not the other way around.
Slack chats will never be able to replace a conversation over a beer or a walk around a city with your new colleagues. Arranging get togethers might not always be cheap, but it makes all the difference for the relationships, and for the culture.
Watch your work-life balance closely
When you don’t have office hours, it’s all too easy to make overtime a habit.
Because the Toggl team is scattered across the world, the company is never really asleep. Often, I would notice a ping on my phone late at night, from someone working on the other side of the world. If it’s someone sending me a meme, I’ll check it out. But if it’s a work related request, I’ll wait till the next day to respond.
If I didn’t, I’d soon be in work-mode 24/7 – and that’s a bad thing.
It can be difficult to stop working when you might get notifications at all hours of the day. It takes a lot of self-consciousness to turn off notifications and stop yourself from working at all hours.
In a healthy work environment, people should never feel guilty for not responding to requests instantly. Knowing when to switch off is vital.
Crucially, remote managers need to understand this too – giving someone a last minute request on their Friday night is a dick move.
The bottom line is this – remote work does not mean always at work. Being always at work is a shortcut to burnout.
Never work in your underwear
Seriously, this doesn’t work.
Tempting as it may be, getting to work naked isn’t a great idea (save for a few professions maybe). Getting dressed for work is not some arbitrary thing or a relic of the past – it’s a great way to signal yourself that you’re officially out of your morning routine and ready to get down to business.
If you’re ready to give remote work a go, we’ve put together a ton of useful information to help you get started in “Out of Office” – and we’re giving it away for free (nope, not even an annoying pop-upasking for your e-mail).
If you want to know more about how to onboard remote team members and how to set proper expectations, read this chapter here.
We’ve also got a handy chapter on keeping your remote company culture healthy.
Lastly, remote team managers need to learn to let go of control – and we have great reasons why.
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