The Ultimate Guide To Remote Work

As of 2020, it seems that most of us are remote workers of some form. Whether you’re working from home, from an office, from a cafe, or from a coworking space, it’s becoming more and more common to work from anywhere and everywhere. Whether it’s the newest trend or the way we all work, we all need to work better together and improve our productivity and collaboration. This guide is here to help you do just that.

Despite being physically located in the same office, you may send a coworker an instant message instead of walking over to their desk. Using a spreadsheet, track project progress. Post feedback to the spreadsheet. Create virtual sticky notes to capture ideas. This is “remote collaboration.”

To be a successful remote team, you need to put in place a clear set of working rules. Unfortunately, as a remote employee, it’s difficult to do this on your own. You have to decide how to allocate your time, what tools to use and how to compensate your teammates.

Who is this remote guide for?

Our guides are rooted in years of building a distributed team of 250+ people ourselves (Miro has five office hubs across several time zones), and expertise from leading companies like HubSpot, Upwork, Pivotal, Automattic, AngelList, and Intercom.

We hope that anyone looking to improve remote work processes and culture could pick up some new ideas here. For managers, we’ve collected a ton of best practices for creating a high-performing team that’s able to turn the challenges of distributed collaboration into a competitive advantage. For teams who are new to telecommuting or working from home, we’ve also got our most popular tips and tricks for adapting to remote life.

Now, let’s start with the basics…

What is remote work?

The term “remote work” has been around for a few years now, and it’s gaining popularity because it’s a flexible, non-committal work environment that lets you work from home, the beach, a park, a coffee shop, or wherever you happen to be instead of the office. It’s an approach to work that has proved popular with young professionals and freelancers who prefer the flexibility and control over their schedule, and it’s also made it easier than ever for people to take a break and work from home if they need to.

Virtual work has become increasingly popular in recent years. It’s a trend that’s been growing for some time and while it’s not necessarily a new concept, it’s one that we’re seeing more and more of everyday. Many companies and small businesses—including both start-ups and established corporations—now regularly use virtual work arrangements to allow employees to work from any location they like, while still remaining close to the office. There are many advantages to this type of working culture, but also some disadvantages. Remote work may be especially useful for businesses in this area, since the occasional need to get out and visit these locations may be quite rare.

3 types of remote teams

Fully Remote

Having a fully remote team means there are no central offices and everyone works remotely from home, on the road, or at the company’s office. Although this setup can be challenging at times, there are also advantages. Being Fully Remote means that you can devise processes and technologies that meet the needs of remote employees right from the start.

Many companies that are fully remote have established themselves as industry leaders, including InVision, Buffer, Automattic, GitLab, and Zapier (to name a few).

Distributed teams

In a distributed workplace, a company’s employees are in separate locations from its headquarters. When the company divides its employees geographically, the company leadership has to determine which employees will work on each local team and what their responsibility is relative to the central office.

An organizational structure must be carefully considered in this scenario. Ideally, both teams should feel that expectations around roles, responsibilities, and communication direction are clear so that they can work together as a symbiotic unit. The leadership can define how different offices relate to each other.

Flexible remote teams

An alternative approach is the hybrid model, where employees aren’t completely distributed or based in distant offices, but they don’t work together all the time.

Employees at some companies are allowed to work a few days from home each week, while others are hired to work from a single office, as well as those who want to work remotely long-term. Regardless, these teams often find themselves using the same collaboration tools as fully remote companies – because at least one teammate is in a different location at least part of the time.

Reasons why remote work is the future of employment

A survey conducted by Deloitte in 2017 found that the organization of the future will be a network of teams. Teams are becoming much more dynamic, and work will be distributed more widely.

Remote work reduces costs

Recently, remote workers have started to gain traction in the workplace and many companies are adopting the concept of remote work. The major reasons are cost saving and the flexibility it offers. However, this can come with a few challenges that require careful management. It’s important to understand the benefits and the costs of remote work. As reported by PGi 2019, a company saves around $10,000 for each full-time employee in real estate savings each year.

Higher employee retention with remote jobs

People in the US and EU are working longer hours than ever before, so it’s no surprise that employers are looking for ways to retain their staff. One of the ways to keep your employees engaged is to offer them a remote job, where they can work from their home. This provides the benefits of a traditional office job with the flexibility of working from wherever they choose.

According to the latest statistics, up to 40% of the workforce is expected to be online by 2020. Organizations are taking advantage of the technology that is available to make work more flexible, mobile and productive. Remote work opportunities are being promoted as a means of increasing productivity and reducing employee turnover.

‍Higher productivity

Remote work is often cited as having an increased productivity benefit due to its flexibility. It is more likely for remote employees to go the extra mile to complete their work than employees who are physically present at work. State and Work Productivity data shows that 65% of full-time workers believe that working remotely would increase productivity – and their bosses agree as well. Survey respondents reported improved productivity by their remote employees two-thirds of the time.

Greater diversity leads to better products

Recruiting top talent from different cities, countries, and backgrounds can also provide you with a competitive advantage and help you build a diverse team.

Based on the McKinsey report on more than 300 public companies, organizations with high ethnic and racial diversity in management are 35% more likely to exceed their industry average in financial returns, and those with high gender diversity are 15% more likely.

How technology enables companies to go remote?

Technology enables companies to go remote. As we mentioned, remote work can’t be possible without the technology that enables it. Things like broadband internet and cloud computing phone plans make remote work possible. Modern teams usually use some combination of messengers, email, video conferencing, cloud documents, and project management software.

Remote working is no longer a phenomenon restricted to startups (a large percentage of companies now have a remote team). The benefits of remote working are numerous: no commute means less stress, flexible working hours mean more time to do the things you love, and a more relaxed environment that allows you to be yourself and express yourself allows your team to flourish.

The most important factor that makes a remote team function is communication. In order to be able to do their job, a remote team needs to have a working communication protocol that they follow while they are working. If they don’t have the right tools, they will have a hard time communicating with their team.

Some common misconceptions about remote work?

As remote work becomes more prevalent, there are still some misunderstandings about this style of working. Here are the ones that we hear the most often:

Remote workers have trouble communicating

There is no doubt that employees who work remotely are not a standard part of in-person meetings. Although they are less likely to be part of water cooler chatter or happy hour meetups, their desire to stay connected to the team and succeed in their jobs more than makes up for it. As a remote employee, video calls are the simplest way to hold meetings because they allow team members to build relationships while reminding them that they are both human. Remote Employees tend to be self-starters by nature. As a result, they tend to be more proactive in sharing project updates and obstacle challenges to other members of the team.

Remote workers are on 24/7

This is a concern both for remote employees and their employers. Remote work is valued by employees because they have freedom to set their own schedules – not because they can work around the clock. Employers don’t want remote employees to burn out and lose interest in their work. When working on a remote work contract, it’s crucial to determine what hours the employee is expected to work, and what times of day are more flexible. As well as setting clear expectations for availability, remote teams should also develop messaging channels and set clear expectations about communication.

Remote Work Means Decreased Productivity

There is a common misconception that remote workers are more disengaged because their bosses don’t keep watch over them. However, An analysis by the Harvard Business Review proves the opposite, showing some companies increased worker productivity by 13.5% after allowing remote working.

The common breakroom effect—the idea that workers are getting pulled away from their desks in order to talk over coffee or celebrate a colleague’s birthday with a piece of cake if they’re working from home, is fewer distractions to contend with. By working remotely, workers avoid these interruptions, as well as the time spent refocusing following an interruption.

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