Have you ever heard about “Remote work”? There are a lot of resources regarding this topic analyzing it from several perspectives. We want to sum up all the best practices of this way of working picking the best resources on the web.
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Remote work can be described in many ways, the simpler could be:
Remote working is work done off-site, away from a company’s main location.
Taken from: What is remote working?
This can include working from a home office, from a coworking space and/or working from any other imaginable environment (hotel, beach, in transit, etc.) There are many keywords related to this way of work, like telecommuting, home, remote, mobile, virtual, location indipendent, nomad or cloud working.
The northcarolinadeportal.com give us a good recap of the main profiles
- Hybrid employee: The employee works part of the work week in the main office and part remotely
- Full time Employee: The employee works full time from a remote office location for the employer
- Outsource / contractor: A single individual or entire department that performs work remotely. Not an employee.
- Temporary: A short term remote work application OR use of online meetings / conferencing.
Taken from: What is remote working?
Jeff Atwood says: “I picked developers who I knew — I had incontrovertible proof — were amazing programmers. I’m not saying they’re perfect, far from it, merely that they were top programmers by any metric you’d care to measure. That’s why they were able to work remotely… Don’t even think about working remotely with anyone who doesn’t freakin’ bleed ones and zeros, and has a proven track record of getting things done.”
Jason Fried says: “Say you spend thirty minutes driving in rush hour every morning and another fifteen getting to your car and into the office. That’s 1.5 hours a day, 7.5 hours per week, or somewhere between 300 and 400 hours per year, give or take holidays and vacation. Four hundred hours is exactly the amount of programmer time we spent building Basecamp, our most popular product. Imagine what you could do with 400 extra hours a year. Commuting isn’t just bad for you, your relationships, and the environment—it’s bad for business”
Working remotely, whether you’re an employee or worker, has some pros and cons you should be aware of before you make the leap.
Pro: It’s more eco-friendly
As a remote employer, each member of your workforce who works from home greatly reduces his carbon footprint by not having to commute into the office. Fewer office supplies are used, and energy used to run their home offices is also lessened.
Pro: Your staff will be in better health
With more time in their workday, remote workers often incorporate more physical exercise into their day than office workers, who are either stuck in the office or commuting to and from their homes.
Pro: They’ll be more loyal
When you give your employees the ability to customize their schedule so that they can better balance their professional life and their personal life, an interesting thing happens: they become grateful
Taken from: 6 Interesting Benefits of Remote Work
So, there is no commute, no office gossip, no coffee or lunch breaks with your teammates, and next to no human interaction. This could be a disastrous combination if you are prone to burnout. You’ll end up pushing yourself harder than you should, and since there’s nobody around to notice that you could use a break, chances are you won’t figure it out until it’s too late.
Taken from: Things To Watch Out For While Working Remotely
I propose that most remote workers work at least as hard, if not more so, than their local counterparts. This is fueled in no small part by guilt and fear. We DO feel guilty working at home. We assume you all think we’re just hanging out without pants on. We assume you think we’re just at the mall tweeting. We fear that you think we aren’t putting in a solid 40 hours (or 50, or 60).
- Headset: A headset is crucial for avoiding echo during online calls; little things like this go a long way when working as a remote.
- Quiet place to think:
- Stable Internet connection: having Skype issues or dropping calls, you’re becoming both less reliable and less professional
- Skype: This is good for adhoc conference calls, instant messaging with clients, or even creating low ceremony chat rooms.
- Gallon jug of water: For the kettle, or for drinking. For long coding sessions, or long conference calls.
Taken from: How to Work Remotely and Still Be the Best
It’s physically impossible to have good posture if all you have is a laptop.
Taken from: Ergonomics for Digital Nomads
When people know you’re currently hard at-work at home, you don’t become invisible. Build a relationship and let people know that you are there.
Chat with people on chat and make sure you stay involved with your colleagues. This is different then when you bump into people in the coffee room, etc., etc. You need to explicitly reach out and stay in touch so that when you commit code or need assistance, people are ready.
Taken from: How to Work Remotely and Still Be the Best
“An asynchronos working style is one where the entire team rarely, if ever, gets together for big agreements and discussions, each individual team member more or less works on their own and at their own pace, with collaboration and agreement being handled by asynchronous mechanisms such as e-mail and shared online documents. Working asynchronously certainly enables the team to be geographically distributed, or telecommute, or maintain flexible hours.”
Taken from: Working asynchronously
This is — by far — my favorite aspect of working at GitHub. Everything is asynchronous. ..Asynchronous communication means I can take a step out for lunch and catch up on transcripts when I get back. Asynchronous communication means I can ask my coworker a question in-chat and not worry about bothering her since she’ll get back to me when she’s available. Asynchronous communication means I can go to rural Minnesota and feel like I’m working from the office like normal.
Taken from: How GitHub Works: Be Asynchronous
Hours are great ways to determine productivity in many industries, but not ours. Working in a startup is a much different experience than working in a factory. You can’t throw more time at a problem and expect it to get solved. Code is a creative endeavor. You need to be in the right mindset to create high-quality code.
Taken from: How GitHub Works: Hours are Bullshit
- Be clear and precise. It’s very easy to misinterpret email, especially across cultures and languages. Re-read your emails before sending.
- Document everything. Document all decisions - if it’s not recorded in email, it didn’t happen.
- Share everything. Use email to share face-to-face hallway, office, lunchtime or post-meeting conversations.
- Be inclusive. Leave time for other sites to read and reply before closing the issue (as appropriate).
- Set up inclusive DLs. Having all stakeholders on the appropriate distribution lists is the easiest way to keep from forgetting other sites. Don’t hide DL membership.
- Answer all questions asked. Incomplete answers lead to frustration and wasted time.
- Avoid unnecessary questions. Ask yourself ‘is it really worth a 24-hour turn-around to answer this question? Can I answer it myself, or ask someone local? Don’t block an important thread with a trivial question.
Do you really need a meeting? Meetings usually arise when a concept isn’t clear enough. Instead of resorting to a meeting, try to simplify the concept so you can discuss it quickly via email or im or Campfire. The goal is to avoid meetings. Every minute you avoid spending in a meeting is a minute you can get real work done instead.
Taken from: Meetings Are Toxic
- Pick the right forum. Use meetings rather than long email threads to discuss complex issues. For small meetings, it is often better if everyone is in their own office rather than using a meeting room. this promotes equality between local and remote team members.
- Share the context and goals. Shared context is critical to clear communication. There are often a lot of assumptions you know in a particular location based on side-conversations, etc.
- Share a deck. It’s much easier to follow the conversation if everyone is looking at the same thing. Even if you are sharing via OC or Live Meeting, send the deck or a link to the deck by email well in advance (home connections can be slow) and call out each slide.
- Send minutes promptly. After every meeting, send minutes documenting all decisions and including clear actions and owners. Avoid cryptic or overly-concise notes,imagine them being read or reported out by someone who wasn’t there, six months later.
- Record and share brown bags. Brown bags are often at unsociable hours. Recording and sharing helps partner teams as well as your own.
- Speak clearly and slowly. The connections aren’t always clear.
- Be precise and concise. Help to keep the meeting short and productive.
- Speak one at a time, otherwise no-one can be heard.
- Ask for confirmation that the callers heard everything clearly.
- Sit near the microphone, especially if your voice is soft.
- Ask for comments. It’s hard to break into the conversation over the phone.
- Avoid jargon and culture-specific phrases. English is not the first language of many people on our teams, and can also vary greatly across cultures.
- Meet face to face from time to time. Meeting in person builds your knowledge of each other’s mannerisms and communication style. Subsequent remote communications are much richer and misunderstandings rarer as a result.