January 21, 2022
Friends have told me that they look forward to heading back to the office. Remote work wasn't for them.
I asked them what remote work meant to them. Mostly it was being trapped in their apartments during lockdown and needing to do too many Zoom calls.
This is not remote work. This is pandemic remote work.
This is what I tell my friends real remote work looks like:
Work from anywhere lets team members choose to work from any location or timezone in the world. Even if an office exists, the whole team communicates using the same remote tools.
There are millions of teams debating whether they go back to the office, go fully remote or do a hybrid scenario. Real remote teams choose a "work from anywhere" policy. They go all in and trust their people to get results without the need for synchronous communication.
Asynchronous communication (async) happens ‘out of sync’ or not in real-time. With async employees have the flexibility of responding on their own schedule. We're still very early in the adoption curve for async. The most forward-thinking teams have been working this way for years but the majority are still dependant on meetings to track progress and output.
Async provides a calmer work environment. More uninterrupted time to focus on deep work leads to greater purpose and a positive impact on mental health.
Sometimes you need to go to the gym, get groceries or pick up your kids from school. Flexible schedules trust team members to get their work done when it suits them best. There is no rigid 9-5 schedule for real remote teams.
Remote work means more flexibility. You are no longer compete with every other person to catch the same bus, queue for the same lunch place or grab the last parking spot. You trade in commute times and work the hours when you're free of distractions and have your best energy.
Too many meetings or Zoom calls leads to anxiety and fatigue. Most meetings are time consuming, lack purpose and can be achieved more efficiently via written project tools.
Most meetings exist because of a lack of trust. Managers that need visibility and control. The best remote work teams have replaced meetings with async, cloud-based tools like Almanac or Asana. Conversations may take longer but they are more considered and richer in context.
Bad managers are the biggest reason people quit their jobs. Good managers trust and support their team members in becoming their best selves. Remote work is built on the trust of managers.
Trust enables async communication, flexible schedules, light meetings and letting your people work from anywhere. Trusting managers back themselves when they make a new hire. They trust that person to perform autonomously and then they get out of their way.
Great writing is the backbone of remote work. As we move our work into async tools, writing succinctly becomes the super skill of remote workers.
This is great news for introverts as less time spent in meetings and more time writing suits them. But we will all need to embrace writing effectively on real remote teams. Brevity, giving and accepting feedback with humility and prioritising are how teams will use written word to organize and execute.
32 hour work weeks are becoming the new normal. Remote teams understand that humans have limited mental energy. Rest is necessary for employees to do their best work.
More remote teams will embrace 4 day work weeks. Just like async, we're still at the early adopter phase. Gradually more recognizable names will experiment with 4 day weeks. Then everyone will start questioning why we chose a 5 day week to begin with.
In addition to 4 day work weeks, remote teams will normalize part-time work. It fits the narrative of remote work leading to greater flexibility. Future generations will demand greater purpose and flexibility in the projects they work on.
Part-time work allows people to pursue a range of options whilst maintaining a salary. Building side projects, family time, pursuing hobbies, education. Part-time remote work allows you to make a portfolio of small bets.
From time to time we need to rest and recharge to do our best work. Best put by Naval: work like a lion, not a cow. Parenthood, travel, education are all good reasons to take an extended break from work at some point in our lives.
Remote teams will give their people generous parent leave or paid sabbaticals as part of their employment agreements. Just like part-time options, it is about providing people with greater flexibility and contentment with their role.
The location you live in should not determine your salary. Team members living in different countries or remote areas should not be penalized compared to those living in big cities or tech hubs.
Remote teams will pay equally based on role type and experience, not on where you choose to live. This levels the playing field moving forward. If you have something to offer you will b hired fro remote teams. Your CV will matter less than it did before.