Remote only

Manifesto

Remote Only work promotes:

  1. hiring and working from all over the world instead of from a central location.
  2. flexible working hours over set working hours.
  3. writing down and recording knowledge over verbal explanations.
  4. written down processes over on-the-job training.
  5. public sharing of information over need-to-know access.
  6. opening every document to change by anyone over top down control of documents.
  7. asynchronous communication over synchronous communication.
  8. the results of work over the hours put in.
  9. formal communication channels over informal communication channels.

While there is sometimes value in the items on the right, we have come to value the items on the left more.

Practical tips

  1. People don't have to say when they are working.
  2. Working long hours or weekends is not encouraged nor celebrated.
  3. Use screenshots in an issue tracker instead of a whiteboard, ensuring that everyone at any time can follow the thought process.
  4. Encourage non-work related communication (talking about private life on a team call).
  5. Encourage group video calls for bonding.
  6. Encourage video calls between people (10 as part of onboarding).
  7. Periodic summits with the whole company to get to know each other in an informal setting.
  8. Encourage teamwork and saying thanks
  9. Assign new hires a buddy so they have someone to reach out to.
  10. Allow everyone in the company to view and edit every document.
  11. Every document is always in draft, don't wait with sharing it until it is done.
  12. Encourage people to write information down.

What is it not

  1. There is no main office or headquarter with multiple people "The only way to not have people in a satellite office is not to have a main office."
  2. You do work together and communicate intensely, remote doesn't mean working independent of each other.
  3. Offshoring of work, you hire around the world.
  4. It is not a management paradigm, it is still a normal hierarchical organization, however there is a focus on output instead of input.
  5. It is not a substitute for human interaction, people still need to collaborate, have conversations, and feel part of a team.

How it changes the organization

  1. Knowledge is written down instead of passed verbally
  2. More asynchronous communication
  3. Shorter and fewer meetings
  4. More transparency within and outside the organization
  5. Everything is public by default
  6. More official communication, less informal
  7. More recorded materials means less interruptions and less on-the-job training

Advantages for employees

  1. More flexibility in your daily life (kids, parents, friends, groceries, sports, deliveries)
  2. No commuting time or stress
  3. Reduce the interruption stress
  4. Traveling to other places without taking vacation (family, fun, etc.)
  5. Free to move to other places

Advantages for organizations

  1. Hire great people irrespective of where they live
  2. More effective employees since they have less distractions
  3. More loyal employees
  4. Save on office costs
  5. Save on compensation due to hiring in lower cost regions
  6. Selects for self starting people
  7. Makes it easy to grow a company quickly
  8. Encourages a focus on results, less meetings, more output.

Advantages for the world

  1. Reduce environmental impact due to no commuting
  2. Reduce environmental impact due to less office space
  3. Reduce inequality due to bringing better paying jobs to lower cost regions

Disadvantages

  1. Scares investors
  2. Scares some partners
  3. Scares some customers
  4. Scares some potential employees, mostly senior non-technical hires
  5. Onboarding is harder, first month feels lonely

Why is this possible now

  1. Fast internet everywhere - 100Mb/s+ cable, 5GHz Wifi, 4G cellular
  2. Video call software - Google Hangouts, Zoom
  3. Mobile - Everyone has a computer in their pocket
  4. Messaging apps - Slack, Mattermost
  5. Issue trackers - Trello, GitHub issues, GitLab issues
  6. Suggestions - GitHub Pull Requests, GitLab Merge Requests
  7. Static websites - GitHub Pages, GitLab Pages
  8. English proficiency - More people are learning English

At large tech companies people on the same campus now routinely do video calls instead of traveling 10 minutes each way to a different building.

More ways to enable remote-only work are continuously being developed. One example is the evolution of speech-to-text conversion software, which is more accurate and faster than typing, thus making written communication easier and more effective. Reading was already faster than listening, but now the process of committing speech to text + reading by recipient can be the faster way to communicate even in a 1:1 communication. For one-to-many communication, typing + reading is already faster.

Remote only companies

  1. Buffer, see their posts about going remote-only, the benefits, and how they make it work.
  2. GitLab, this website is hosted by GitLab, everyone is welcome to contribute to this page, also see our handbook for remote working practices.
  3. Groove, see their blog on being a remote team.
  4. Anybox, see their feedback (in french) Télétravail généralisé, notre retour d'expérience.

Remote first companies

Organizations promoting remote work

Job boards aimed at remote workers

See a collection with reviews of 25 sites, some of which are listed below:

  1. We Work Remotely
  2. Remote OK
  3. Jobspresso
  4. Working Nomads
  5. PowerToFly
  6. Remote jobs on Angellist

References

  1. After Growing to 50 People, We’re Ditching the Office Completely
  2. Remote working tips by Groove
  3. Remote manifesto by GitLab
  4. Being tired isn’t a badge of honor
  5. The Day They Invented Offices
  6. Introverts at Work: Designing Spaces for People Who Hate Open-Plan Offices
  7. That remote work think piece has some glaring omissions (a rant)
  8. How I manage 40 people remotely
  9. Guidelines for Effective Collaboration
  10. The Ultimate Guide to Remote Standups
  11. How Do You Manage Global Virtual Teams?
  12. Getting Virtual Teams Right
  13. This office closed its office and remote only
  14. GitLab & Buffer CEOs Talk Transparency at Scale
  15. GitLab’s Secret to Managing 160 Employees in 160 Locations - Interview by Y Combinator

Contribute

It is important to understand that the whole idea of Remote Organizations is still quite new, and it is best developed through your active participation. You can participate in many different ways: