Remote Companies

Remote first: how can distributed teams transition seamlessly in 2022

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Rachita Jain

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Remote work became quite famous after the pandemic, and since then, it has been spreading its wings. People nowadays prefer working remotely because it is easy to manage and schedule your time and everything runs smoothly.

And today, remote first with distributed teams has undoubtedly taken over the monotonous traditional office environment. Employees nowadays find the on-site office setup quite stale and non-inspiring. Earlier a jargon, the term remote first is the latest and most famous recruitment keyword, which will probably soon become a part of the modern-day dictionary. Let’s find out why.

What is remote-first?

“Remote first is defined as an environment where the remote work culture is prioritized over the traditional office culture.”

A remote first company or organization prefers the informal setup of remote work over on-site work. A remote first company lays more stress on the strengths of remote work while simultaneously developing and creating ways to enhance the productivity of the remote work model. A remote first company differs from traditional on-site or hybrid companies that consider the physical presence of an employee essential.

Remote first vs. partially remote vs. hybrid remote

Remote firstPartially remoteHybrid remote
Remote first is the type of work culture that prioritizes remote workers.Partially remote jobs allow their employees to work remotely to a certain extent, but the employees should, however, visit once in a while.Hybrid Remote, as the name suggests, is a work setting where an employee works both remotely and in the office.
A remote first company allows its employees to work completely remotely from wherever they want to, as long as they have stable internet connections.The employees engaged in partially remote jobs are expected to live closer to the office so that they can commute to and from the office whenever required or mentioned.Some days are fixed in which the candidate needs to do his work within the walls of the office. Rest of the days, he can work remotely from anywhere.
Remote first jobs empower remote workers by providing them with greater autonomy and control over their work environment.People engaged in partially remote jobs work neither completely remote nor on-site.Different companies have different hybrid patterns. For instance, company ‘A’ may work on the model of three in-office and two remote working days, whereas company ‘B’ may allow its employees to work remotely for three days.

Thus, in the debate of remote first vs. partially remote vs. hybrid remote, remote first is the clear winner due to the enormous number of benefits it offers to both the employees as well as employers.

What are distributed teams and why should they strive for remote work?

Before understanding why distributed teams strive for remote work, let's first understand what distributed teams exactly mean.

“Distributed teams are networks in which all the members of the team are geographically distant from each other. These team members can also operate from different time zones. Basically, no two colleagues work together or from a single place in distributed teams. Team members might work from home or from the mountains; it is up to them to decide.”

Managing distributed teams is not an easy task due to distributed geographical locations of people. Moreover, with limited interactions, it becomes hard to avoid misunderstanding.

It is difficult managing distributed teams but there are still various reasons why the distributed teams should strive for remote first, and some of them are mentioned below.

1. Access to global talent

With distributed teams and the remote first model, the big tech companies are now not limited to domestic talent. They now have access to global talent, which means they can now hire anywhere from all around the globe. A New York-based company can hire an Indian SEO Manager, and an India-based company can employ a German-based digital developer. Their options are not merely restricted to domestic boundaries like before.

2. Enhanced employee wellness and happiness

Previously, an employee had only two choices- either leave his family and relocate to the place of employment or leave the job. However, now the scenarios have changed for good. When an employer allows his employee to work remotely from home, he allows him to stay with his family and work. And this boosts the levels of happiness, which in turn improves the employees’ overall wellness.

3. Cost-effective setup

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Lockdown was a significant jolt to the sales sections of almost all companies. However, the work-from-home model of work saved their assets by reducing their business costs by a significant number. The electricity bills, water bills, and other business costs were cut to zero. These savings balanced out the drop in sales. Moreover, according to Stanford University, the travel expenses of employees have been reduced to a minimal amount after the remote first model has been adopted by many companies.

4. Improved productivity

With the remote first model and distributed teams, productivity considerably increases with minimal wastage of time. Confinements never lure people. What catches their eye is their free will. In the remote first model, employees can work whenever and wherever they feel. And when they work willingly, they definitely perform productively, which leads to better work outcomes.

5. A more accessible and inclusive workplace

Distributed teams should definitely strive for remote work, as remote workplaces are more accessible, inclusive, and accommodating. People hugely benefit from flexible work schedules. Recorded conversations help both the employees as well as the employers to keep track of what has been communicated.

Distributed teams with remote work are more inclusive and accommodating as they allow those who suffer from ADHD, Autism, auditory, orthopedic, and other disabilities to be included in the organization’s workforce as well.

Examples of remote first companies

Remote work is something that began as a substitute but soon became a more viable option for people and companies. The companies understood that their target was not to keep people in the office but to increase their output. Furthermore, remote work offered huge cost-cuttings, which added a cherry to the top. Remote work’s shift from a substitute to a more permanent setup was relatively smooth. This is why many big companies are now following this model, some of whose names are mentioned below.

1. Spotify

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Spotify is a name that needs no introduction. Spotify is highly popular in the world of music, podcasts, and comedies. With innumerable options available online, Spotify has won the hearts of people.

Spotify, one of the best remote companies to work for, offers its employees the opportunity to work from anywhere they want to work. It is absolutely their choice whether they wish to work from home or from any other place in the world.

2. Reddit

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Just like Quora, Reddit is also an online platform that allows people with similar interests to interact with each other. People on Reddit can communicate and share information about their hobbies, work lives, issues, and passions.

Reddit allows its employees to work remotely. They are free to decide their location of work at their convenience.

3. Automattic

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Automattic is the brain behind Gravatar, WordPress, and Simplenote. It developed several other tools too that are very reliable and useful in day-to-day life.

Automattic’s current team comprises people from 50 different countries. They are able to achieve this as they offer remote work. Automattic is the most relevant example of an institution that is fully remote. That makes Automattic one of the best remote companies to work for.

4. YNAB (You Need A Budget)

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As the name suggests, YNAB is a budgeting app available on all platforms- Web, iPhone, and Android. It helps people manage and stick to their realistic budgets by using a unique way to categorize spending. In order to use it, it must be directly connected to the bank account.

YNAB, the best work-from-home company, offers its employees a remote work setup as per their comfort. More than 40 of its employees are from different countries.

5. VMware

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VMware is a big name in the field of cloud computing and virtualization technology. VMware has a strong belief that software empowers and unlocks new opportunities for people. The company is based in Palo Alto, California.

After the pandemic, VMware made itself one of the best work-from-home companies by allowing remote work for its employees.

Jasmeet Kaur, one of its employees, is quite happy with VMware’s decision as now she is able to manage her life in a much better way.

What do they do differently to create a remote-friendly culture in the organization?

New enterprises are joining the league of remote first cultures due to the profound benefits it provides. As there are many benefits, there are many pitfalls. Remote work is favorable, but it is also challenging to achieve a successful remote work setup. Here are the things remote companies do differently to make a remote-friendly culture in the organization successful.

1. Better communication, better relations

Establishing strong relations in virtual space can be very tough. There can be a lot of misunderstandings on the parts of both the communicator and the one to whom the message is being communicated.

  • Moreover, meeting deadlines along with doing other tasks simultaneously is a huge challenge but thanks to software like Slack and Zoom, virtual communication is now easy.
  • These applications have interfaces specially designed for the use of remote work.
  • Effective communication is essential to remind all the team members that even though they are geographically distant, they are still part of the same team.

2. Avoid excessive and unnecessary conversation

E-mails, messages, and calls are the defined means of essential communication. Misusing these means for unnecessary conversations can be disastrous.

  • The digital ecosystem is quite accommodating, but at the same time, it is also frustrating.
  • Follow-ups with your teammates or juniors are significant, but bombarding them with insignificant messages will cause trouble.

Companies that follow remote culture strictly adhere to necessary messaging only during official hours.

3. Atmosphere of trust is essential

Trust becomes vital when you take things to virtual mode. People in remote work settings work from different locations, and due to this, they are not physically together. Physical distance can create misunderstandings, so it becomes important for remote companies to develop an atmosphere of trust.

Remote first companies need to be patient with their employees, asking questions and making mistakes, because this is how they will learn from each other. Rigidity will only break the system.

4. One get-together every year brings everyone closer

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Digitalization can never substitute for the fun and intimacy that comes along with face-to-face meets.

  • Periodic get-togethers are significant for building healthy relationships among employees.
  • Remote companies strategize and plan occasional outings such as trips where all the employees of a particular area can get together to know each other.

New dimensions unfurl when people meet and interact. Things take a different toll altogether and move ahead in positive directions in these kinds of unofficial gatherings.

5. Talk about things other than work

Excessive and unnecessary messaging should be avoided, but that does not mean you do not check on your employees. You never know what the other person is going through. A genuine concern from your side can brighten someone’s day.

Remote companies organize half to one-hour after-work sessions during which all the employees and seniors interact.

6. Celebrate the victories as a team

Behind the success of a project are the efforts of many employees. Everyone has a different level of contribution to a particular project. And that is why it is necessary to celebrate the winnings together.

Remote companies celebrate their victories together. It motivates the team members and the other employees who were not part of this project. It creates an atmosphere of inclusion in the company.

7. Be patient during the tough times

It is vital to celebrate conquests together, but it is also required to be patient during unfavorable times. Lashing out at employees for failures can create a negative aura within the team, which in turn creates a pessimistic environment in the company. This will create mistrust and promote unhealthy relationships within the institutions.

Therefore, being patient during the failures is as crucial as having loud celebrations during the wins.

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