Remote employees are more productive than those who work from conventional offices, claims Jason Fried, the Chief Executive and co-founder of remote software startup, Basecamp
Fried managed the Basecamp team remotely for 21 years and is the best-selling author of several books, including Rework; Remote: Office Not Required; and It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work.
He emphasised that it takes dedication to make the transition from in-person offices to remote settings.
“If you haven’t done it before, you’re not going to be good at it,” Fried says. “Even so, with time, it’ll come.”
Fried’s top six tips for improving remote working right now.
Change your meeting cadence.
The biggest mistake companies make when transitioning to remote work is trying to simulate office behaviours. For example, managers might want to host frequent Zoom meetings instead of the in-person ones that occurred at the office.
Consider other ways to communicate with staff instead of just having meetings, which can decrease employee productivity. Meeting hosts could instead write their thoughts in an email, which would also give people more time to craft a thoughtful response. Additionally, shared calendars should be abolished so employees can protect their time.
Don’t spy on your employees.
I abhor the use of surveillance software to monitor remote employees. The tactic is “a mistake” and says to employees that their managers don’t trust them.
Companies should scrap these policies and instead monitor an employee’s quality of work. He believes that’s a better indicator of whether someone is performing.
Build a culture of community.
At Basecamp, I established weekly automated check-ins to go out to all employees. The programme asks workers what they did over the weekend or what they’re reading to spur connection between Basecamp’s remote team. Participation is optional.
I suggest companies set up something similar to break down cliques and create an easy way for employees to bond over similar interests. Since workers aren’t in the office, and perhaps lacking social interaction, this is a good way to connect people who otherwise may not communicate.
Rethink communication patterns.
People tend to overcommunicate after initially transitioning to remote work. That’s because they feel pressure to be constantly in touch and show their managers they’re working.
People should have time to do their work and not feel like they also have to keep one eye on this chat that’s scrolling by all day long.
“It’s really distracting and really damaging to company culture.”
Use email, which allows people to construct more organized thoughts, rather than continuous one-line updates in communication platforms like Slack. However, phone or video calls are useful for more nuanced conversations or debates.
Find your dedicated workspace.
Many are working in shared spaces and balancing other obligations, like childcare, which can make it hard to stay focused. If you’re able, find a dedicated space with a closed door and few distractions — even a walk-in closet will do. Additionally, remove any distractions that will interrupt your workflow and build some physical separation between your work life and home life.
Instead of rolling out of bed and opening your laptop, establish routines that help you prepare for the day. This can be something involved, such as exercise, or as simple as splashing cold water on your face. The idea is to mark the end of one period of time and the beginning of another.
Additionally, do something similar to signal the end of your day. That could be a walk outside or reading a physical book to cut down on screen time.
This article first appeared in INC and has been edited for length and placed in the first person.
Watch INC’s full hour-long webinar: How Remote Teams Win or if you are short on time, here are clips of the highlights: