13 tips on how to build & run your company remote first
“Starting and running a remote first business is simple” said no one, ever. But - there are certainly hacks that can make life easier. We have collected some of the best tips speaking to hundreds of organizations operating in a remote first way pre; during; and post-pandemic. Also, being founders of a company with people collaborating daily across eight countries we know what it is like.
- Hire from anywhere by using Deel
You finally find that perfect developer and then the home country is Nigeria? No problem - we use Deel for compliant payment structures. There are of course competitors doing the same thing as Deel, in our case we are happy with them.
- Send a pre-start welcome package
Upon joining Teemyco, we send a welcome sweater, a few branded pens and a card. Yes it requires going the extra mile. But imagine yourself - the anticipation prior to starting a new job - remotely. Everyone wants to feel seen, heard & appreciated. Team spirit creation can start already before starting.
- Productivity & Communication: Clarify your tool universe during onboarding
No matter if your toolstack includes Zoom, Slack and GSuite, or rather Microsoft Teams & Office, Hubspot or Teemyco. Have a list of which systems are used in your company for which purpose, and if you have rules (e.g. comment as a thread in Slack) - list those in a written Notion page or evolving document, always available for everyone.
- Productivity & Communication: Clarify meeting routines & purposes
Daily stand-ups, retrospectives, all-hands. No matter what type of routine meetings you have in your remote first team, add to your team handbook what the purpose, potential standard agenda & expectations on these meetings are - and the onboarding time should be shortened and misunderstandings avoided.
- Set standards for information sharing
As a default, let everyone in the company access non-confidential data and files. (Not suggesting peoples’ pay slips should be visible, but Data Studio access for all - yes!). In case you are operating remote-first but are physically hybrid / partly co-located, teach leaders how to not announce new hires accidentally by the physical coffee machine. Set standards for asynchronous in writing sharing of announcements in order to not discriminate against remote workers.
- Inclusion, cohesion, visibility: use a virtual office
Want that office feeling; popping by someone’s desk, make a quick joke, ask a question or get help? Get yourself a virtual office and co-work side by side from anywhere! Choose one of the brandable and customizable ones to really make the space as unique as your team.
- Know your team: invest in team building routines
Monthly know-me-better lunches have been highly appreciated in our team. For 30 minutes, once per month, a selected team member shares, in images, his / her life story. Although these sessions are optional, our virtual office kitchen gets crowded every time, as the person behind the screen becomes a whole new level of human.
- Do not skip 1-2-1s
Maybe even more important than in a physical setting, where it is easier to catch your team’s mental and stress state by simply seeing their body posture. Check in and dare to talk about how people feel and be open to suggestions. If needed, use a happiness scorecard as a support tool.
- Always take difficult conversations orally & synchronously
This old leadership wisdom holds especially true in a remote environment. We all know how much room for misunderstanding there is when reading.
- Make yourself available
Making yourself available for people to swing by as a leader can make all the difference. Some teams have leadership office hours. If you use a virtual office, spend time in between meetings in a designated Office Hours Room where you can be approached for quick questions and conversations.
- Show people you care & see a job well done
Again no rocket science, but needed to almost an exaggeration level in a context where you cannot high five for a job well done. Some teams have kudos-channels in Slack. Some virtual office solutions send kudos hats to avatars. No matter how you do it - don’t forget the praise. Because after all, we all want to feel seen, heard & appreciated.
- Have a local holidays calendar accessible for everyone
For local holidays & days off, create a separate holiday calendar where each team member is responsible for making sure his/her country’s national holidays are listed for others to see.
- If needed: fire with dignity & respect
Sometimes things do not work out, and it sucks on all levels. If you need to let someone go, and you’d recommend the person further - just maybe it wasn’t a match for that particular role in your particular organization - do what you can to help. The person might be perfect in your friend’s team - pay it forward and one day karma might get back at you.
If you are curious to get into the head of our remote employee Rafal on what is important to him as a remote employee, check out his blog post on the topic here.