Many people are working from home. But how do you work remotely successfully? What’s the best way to do it? These resources can help you start.

If you’re learning to work from home or remotely for the first time since the coronavirus / COVID-19 outbreak, you’re not alone. What was the future of work has immediately become a new reality.

In fact, many businesses are working from home for the first time, including tech companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google.

You may think that because those companies are massive and on the cutting-edge that they are well-prepared to work from home. That’s not always the case. They are adapting to life away from home as the New York Times noted that intense usage of Facebook’s platform has been exacerbated “by Facebook’s workforce adapting to working from home, which had been discouraged in the past.”

Take comfort in that fact. If your company is feeling the strain as well from coronavirus, remember this is difficult for even the most seasoned and experienced companies. Give your employees and your company a measure of grace as you work together in new environments.

To help the transition, we have listed top resources that you can use to share with your team and improve on your remote work processes.

As someone who has worked remotely for more than three years across small, mid-size, and large virtual teams, even those companies had their own cultures and ways of doing things. 

As you grow into remote work in the weeks and months to come, you’ll discover that solutions that worked for one company may not fit your company in the same way because you have personalities and work cultures that are different. If you're managing a remote team, your expectations will have to change.

Embrace that fact while accepting the advice that resonates with you as a leader and manager.

1. Research How To Work Remotely

You don’t have to dive into working remotely without a little help. In fact, many teams have been conducting remote work for several years and can offer great research and tips. Buffer has put together an annual survey of how employees work remotely and their best lessons. Spoiler alert: 99 percent of those that work remotely like it and want to keep working remotely.

But are you not sure what all the fuss is about, especially during the coronavirus social isolation? This briefing from UseFYI will point out the benefits in “normal times,” including the freedom, flexibility, and lack of a commute. They also note that the biggest drawback for remote work is the difficulty with communication.

To find out how other companies are doing it, Zapier, Automattic, Basecamp, and Buffer have been practicing remote work for several years. Other companies like Github have partial remote work programs.

If you’ve got a question about what to do next with remote work or want to learn more about it, Arc put together a great guide featuring articles on multiple topics, based on team functions.

Toptal has been a remote-first company since its inception and has several analytical posts and practical articles about leading and working remotely.

Favorite Resource: The Google Distributed Work Playbook

See the insights and suggestions from one of America’s most well-known tech companies. They offer guidelines on setting team norms, reporting, team norms and more. This isn’t only the research on how great remote work is, but how to do it effectively. This is a great resource to use in your HR/recruiting team as well as to pass along to other departments to help with their remote work organization.

Other Resources:

2. Consider your team structure for remote work

An overlooked factor in remote work is that companies have multiple ways of approaching it. Some teams are all-remote, distributed teams, others have office hubs/nodes in multiple cities, still, others may have a central office with a scattered remote presence in co-working spaces. Others may have days in the office and days out of the office.

Which structure is best for your remote company?

There are successful companies that operate remotely in all of those ways. It’s up to your team to decide how you will function in that regard. It will impact your recruiting and who chooses to join and where. Think about time zones and your preference for how your team will work real-time if needed. And, are there any positions that cannot be turned into a remote job? That is also an important consideration. Companies may limit their workers to North America or Europe for example if they want easier communication.

Favorite Resource: Ultimate Guide To Remote Work From Miro

Miro breaks down the considerations for how to structure your team, how best to communicate for remote working, and what makes a good remote employee.

Other Resources:

3. How To Maximize Productivity

In the Buffer survey, one of the most repeated reasons for why people like working at home is that they feel more productive. Once you have implemented remote work, you will want to go all-in on that capability while balancing the freedom that remote work provides. It’s a tricky balance to execute, but it is one that makes remote work worth it. You may want to help your team cross that bridge and provide remote work resources on productivity and efficiency.

Many sites like Skillshare, LinkedIn and Udemy have courses on remote work and productivity. This is a great time to work with your employees on being more productive and how to manage their time especially as it may be more constrained.

Favorite Resource: Leading At A Distance From LinkedIn

LinkedIn has learning paths for remote work, and specifically on working from home. LinkedIn also has courses on leading remotely, especially since managing at a distance could be new to many managers, and because no one is exactly sure how long stay-at-home orders for various states will be in place.

Other Resources:

4. How To Hire And Recruit Remote Workers

If you suddenly find yourself in a situation where you need more remote workers, or to change your staffing to part-time or contract workers, this is the time to embrace remote contract workers in the short-term, and possibly even longer.

Hiring remote contract workers is a great opportunity to experiment with remote workers and to discover if it’s something you want to do long-term.

If you’re looking specifically for tech talent, check out Toptal or Gun.io. They vet and screen developers from all over the world to fit stringent standards. They can then deploy individual developers or development teams to work specifically on your software development project.

Very often, hiring remote workers will not look all that different than hiring an in-office employee. But it is a culture adjustment. Many things still apply-- giving candidates an assessment or test, holding interviews with several members of the team to ensure a good fit. Then once hired, you will onboard into the right systems, have regular check-ins, and then incorporate your new remote employee into the workflow.

Favorite Resources:

5. Build Your Technology Stack For Working Remotely

When you’re thinking about working remotely, your team will need the right tools to succeed. You cannot necessarily operate in the same way...no one can walk over to the printer or copier to grab the latest agenda before the meeting starts. Instead, you will have to adapt your workflows and communication to adapt to the remote work environment.

This may mean a few new cloud-based software subscriptions to grant access to all of you company employees that need it.

When building out your technology to work remotely, consider software that addresses these areas for your tech stack:

  • Business Management: Accounting, product documentation, word processing, human resources, and other core operations
  • Communication: Status updates, meetings, feedback, video conferencing, webinars, and presentations
  • Project Management And Collaboration Tools: Task tracking, time management, prioritization, delegation, and collaboration.
  • Data & Security: Secure connections and transfer protocols depending on your business needs
  • Hiring Remote Freelance Workers & Contractors: As mentioned above, hiring remote workers

Favorite Resource: Remote Working Tools

Elaborating on the sections above, this post discusses the different types of technology you may need to manage your remote team, and identifies when to use certain tools over others.

Other Resources:

Conclusion: Remote Work Resources Will Give You A Head Start

What’s interesting with remote work is that it may actually save you money in the long-run on office space and other perks, while also helping the environment. Remote work isn't only for digital nomads anymore, it's a mainstream practice by many large companies. But is it right for you and how can you adapt it for your team members? Your first concern is that your business can adapt and continue to function. But there other unexpected benefits: you may find it actually increases your productivity and saves you money while helping your community too. Working remotely or telecommuting may even lower greenhouse gas emissions because commutes are cut down.

What’s the next step for you? Read and evaluate these resources and also consider your hiring and recruiting plans for the rest of 2020.

  • Which resource or article did you find the most helpful?
  • With the coronavirus, do you intend to hire more remote workers?
  • What other information do you need to get started and to consider remote work?