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What not to do when transitioning to remote work

Created by Will Ceolin
Created on Apr 30, 20 - Updated on May 29, 20

Remote work doesn't happen overnight. There are four phases a company goes through while implementing this kind of work.

There are certain best practices you can do for managing a remote organization and some tips for getting started working remotely. But more important than learning what to do is understanding what . Let's cover some practical examples here.

Don't replicate your office's experience

One of the biggest mistakes an organization makes is trying to replicate its office's practices to remote work. Instead of piling up video calls or subscribing to the brand-new online whiteboard tool, embrace the benefits of asynchronous communication and get rid of meetings.

Don't ignore your workspace

Not everyone has the budget to build a remote office. Make sure to offer a budget to your employees for building an office space or renting a coworking space.

Be careful with emails/chats

Asynchronous communication is one of the hardest topics for beginners to master. It's very convenient to just send an email or a direct message. However, those types of communication can easily get lost. Use task management tools instead, where you can have an organized history of what's been discussed.

Beware of meetings

Meetings are worse than emails. It interrupts hurts people's productivity and performance. It's mostly a waste of people's time. When you have something you'd like to discuss, open a new issue on your project management tool and ask for people's views on that topic. Use meetings only as a last resort - and if you really need a meeting, make sure all information discussed is properly written down and published on your internal docs.

Creating huge projects

It's common for people to complain that asynchronous communication doesn't work for larger discussions/projects. Of course, not. But you shouldn't be doing those in the first place. Use the lean startup philosophy and split down your discussion into smaller parts. By doing so, your team is going to be able to focus on what really matters.

One-way door decisions

Many companies have long discussions and make slow decisions because they act on what Jeff Wilke, VP of Consumer Business at Amazon, calls : decisions that can't be reverted.

You should aim for making : when you walk out the door, see the outcomes, and you're able to walk back to the initial state if the results are bad.

You can avoid making one-way door decisions by developing small experiments that can be easily reversible if something goes wrong. When you do so, you'll realize you don't need those long discussions anymore. Then, asynchronous communication becomes much easier, leading to more efficient projects and better results.

Don't set unrealistic expectations

Make sure you're setting realistic expectations for your OKRs (objectives and key results) and KPIs (key performance indicators). Otherwise, this might lead to your employees burning out and creating anxiety in your entire team.

Expecting an immediate response

It's another mistake people make coming from traditional companies: expecting an immediate response to everything. In traditional companies, you can just go to your co-worker's desk, interrupt them, and get the information you need by hurting their work.

When those people go to a remote company, they usually keep the same bad habit: send a direct message and expect an instant reply:

9:10 - Hey, are you there?
9:14 - I need to talk to you...
9:18 - Can you answer, please?
9:20 - Please, it's urgent
9:21 - What happened?
9:27 - How can invite someone to a video call?

Yeah, . Besides, if you properly use asynchronous communication, then most questions can be answered using a link to the appropriate ticket on your task management tool or to your company's handbook.

Gathering executives on a physical place

Some remote companies have executives working together in a physical place. They should give an example of their commitment to remote work and do it remotely too. Otherwise, they might not understand the issues other employees are facing in their everyday tasks.


Do you have other tips about things a company should avoid while working remotely? Please, update this page to share them.