Management & Culture
One of the main challenges when working remotely is building up culture. Let's explore how companies are solving this challenge and what you can do to make your business develop a great remote culture and solve most management challenges while working remotely.
Building culture when working remotely is a challenge and it's often an excuse to avoid remote work. However, many companies don't understand what is culture. You'll often see executives giving free beers, buying a foosball table, or giving some of those weird startup perks we often see out there. But that's not culture. Building culture is about actions: * What your company does * How they treat their employees * How they treat their customers * How people talk to each other * How much time everyone expects you to work * How open and transparent they are * How diverse they are Some companies might give you a free beer on Fridays and allow you to play video games a couple of hours per week during work hours. However, they'll ask you to work 80 hours/week. That's not a great culture. When you realize that culture is about actions rather than perks, you'll realize it's not that hard to develop a nice culture while working remotely. Of course, team gatherings are still important. They're just not the most important thing while building a team culture. Always evolving Culture in any company (but especially for teams) should be an always-evolving organism. Make sure your handbook is always up-to-date and your team is always iterating to improve it. Things change and you should adapt to those changes: > Culture is best defined not by how a company or team acts when all is well; rather, by the behaviors shown during times of crisis or duress. Executive team Making executives work remotely is a good way to speed up remote work adoption and improve the company's processes: > The quickest way to send the clearest signal that remote is the future is to start at the top of the organizational chart. Remove execs from the office, and you’ll quickly figure out what gaps you need to fill with tools and processes. If you force the executive team to work remotely for a meaningful amount of time (over one month, in most cases), you'll discover communication gaps, as well as voids in tooling and process. If you're applying to a remote job, pay attention to the questions you should ask during your recruitment process.
Caring about your co-workers is essential for building up a culture whether they're remote or not. Fortunately, remote work makes it easier by [increasing flexibility and reducing politics](/posts/benefits-of-working-remotely-3y16zlpkl). Let's cover here some of the topics you should consider to create a great remote working environment for everyone. --- ## Paid time off [Context switch](/posts/problems-of-working-remotely-sauqygywm) might be hard when you're working remotely. People might l
Managing a remote company is different than leading a traditional organization. It requires more organizational skills, openness, transparency, and trust in your co-workers. The way you run things is also different. Let's cover here the best practices for managing a remote company or team. Remove set working hours Traditional companies usually have a set of working hours (traditionally from 9 am to 5 pm). Even some remote companies require at least four hours of overlap. However, those practices go against the principles of remote work. GitLab suggests getting rid of "set working hours": > So long as your company adheres — even if unofficially — to set working hours, you'll be biased towards candidates who are in your preferred time zone. The only way to remove that bias and open your company to a truly global and diverse workforce is to destroy the epicenter of power as it relates to working hours. This also enables your workforce to design their work around their life, empowering them to be managers of one. This is a more inclusive and healthier way of working. Embrace asynchronous communication By getting rid of fixed working hours, you can embrace asynchronous communication. It doesn't matter what timezone people are or when they're working because everything is written down and asynchronous. It gives everyone more flexibility. Use a single source of truth Writing everything down is an important step during the transition to remote work. By doing it, you make sure all information about your company is easily accessible by everyone. GitLab goes even further: if it's not in the company's handbook, it doesn't exist. This forces people to avoid chats and meetings. Every discussion is done by formal means and it's accessible in their handbook: > Your goal should be to answer everything with a link. If a team member asks you a question that you can't answer with a link, you should work according to company values to generate an answer, and immediately document that answer in the appropriate place in the handbook. This ensures that anyone who has the same inquiry at any point in the future will not have to impede on anyone's time to find the answer. Offer an office budget Building a remote office might be expensive. Not everyone will have the budget to do it. As a manager, make sure your employees have all the tools and financial resources to get started working remotely. It's useful to create an "office budget" to reimburse expenses with office equipment such as chairs, desks, keyboards, etc. Some people might prefer to work from a coworking space. Make sure you set up a budget for that as well. It's also important to offer guidance about ergonomics and tips for properly setting up a remote office. Read also * When managing a remote company, it's also important to understand what not to do.
Onboarding is a challenge for every company but remote ones might find it even more difficult than traditional organizations. Onboarding is different than a traditional orientation. It's a continuous process rather than a singular event. It helps with employee retention, on becoming more productive quickly, reducing the natural anxiety of joining a new company, and it sets expectations about what the new hire's life is going to be. This process is important because 87% of employees are less likely to leave the company when they feel engaged and it increases productivity by 54%. Ron Carucci argues a company needs to work on three key dimensions when onboarding new people: the organizational, the technical, and the social. Organizational Onboarding Carucci defines two main factors on the organizational dimension: teaching how things work and helping them to assimilate. By teaching them how things work, you'll show your organization's processes. Remote companies usually have a handbook containing all the answers to those questions (see some examples). It works as a single source of truth, a place where anyone can go when they have a question. By redirecting them to the company's handbook, you're also teaching them to be self-sufficient and proactive when looking for answers. Technical onboarding Carucci defines two main factors on the technical dimension: define what good looks like and set up early wins: > Just because someone is hired for their capabilities and experiences, doesn’t mean they know how to deploy them at your company. While your company's handbook helps in the organizational space, using that knowledge is part of the technical onboarding. Make sure your handbook can set the expectations about each role you have in your company and it provides what tools are available to your employees. Setting up early wins is equally important. You can do so by giving new employees clear short-term goals. GitLab has an onboarding issue template that has tasks to be completed each day. Social onboarding During the social onboarding, Carucci talks about the importance of building a sense of community. According to a recent research, 40% of adults feel lonely. So, building relationships in a new company is very important. Make sure you have channels for informal communication, where people can share random things like memes, music, movies, and interesting links. Some companies also assign an onboarding buddy: someone to help the new hire understand how things work in the organization. It's going to be the first point of contact when the new employee has a question. --- Do you have other tips about onboarding people remotely? Please, update this page to share them.
It's easy to get burned out while working remotely because it's [harder to do a context switch](/posts/problems-of-working-remotely-sauqygywm) to understand when it's time to stop working. Taking care of your mental health is very important and it should be a [task for everyone in your team, especially for those in leadership roles](/posts/caring-about-your-co-workers-zvr1srxms). ## Don't celebrate working long hours Sometimes we just want to get our work done in the best way possible. We los
Onboarding is a challenge for many companies. Remote organizations often create a handbook to help during this step. A handbook should be a single source of truth for your company. A place where your employees go when they have questions about how things work in the organization. Some companies have very detailed handbooks. GitLab's handbook, for example, would have more than 5,000 pages if printed. Having it online, however, allows for it to be indexable and searchable, making it easier to find the right information. Handbook examples * Aula * Basecamp * GitLab * Remote.com