Why (and How to) Set Your Team up for Remote Work 💻🌍

To work remotely successfully with your team, define your culture, and set up relevant tools.

Florent Mérian
May 16 · 6 min read
Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

Early-stage startups tackle recurring issues, from acquiring new customers to growing revenue, and hiring the best people is among the most recurring one. According to a study from First Round, 75% of founders list hiring the best people as their main concern.

75% of founders list hiring as their #1 concern.
First Round State of Startups 2017

On hiring, several questions founders may ask:

  • How to attract the most talented and most passionate people?
  • How to differentiate from other startups?
  • How to convince those people to join your company?

To differentiate, some founders choose to hire young engineers and managers, early in their careers, to train them to their methodologies and technologies. On the opposite, some others prefer to work with dedicated agencies to hunt more experienced people. In both cases, human and financial costs are high, and they limit the opportunities for early-stage startups.

Thus, with rising new technologies, new management methods and work culture are emerging. They create an incredible opportunity for early-stage startups to go beyond geographical constraints, to be able to hire the most talented, most relevant and most passionate people anywhere in the world and to enrich its internal team culture. Moreover, the ability to work remotely is one of the most demanding criteria for those people.

“Remote work is the future of work.”
— Alexis Ohanian

“Remote is the future of work” — Alexis Ohanian

So, as an early-stage startup, how can you set your team up for remote work?

First, to work remotely doesn’t necessarily mean working from home. You can work remotely from anywhere, in a coworking space, in a shared office space or a coffee shop. The most important in remote work is to find a place where you feel the most comfortable to work the most efficiently.

There are three rules to respect, easy-to-follow yet crucial, to work remotely successfully as a team:

  1. Trust
  2. Transparency
  3. Automation

This post is about how to define a relevant work culture and how to set up the appropriate tools to work remotely efficiently with your team.

1. Do trust your teammates

To successfully work as a remote team, the trust of your teammates is vital. Start by involving your team in every single aspect of your startup life, especially in the hiring process. Make sure everyone is involved in every single step of the hiring process to build a relevant and compatible team and define precise and measurable objectives.

Build a compatible team

The involvement of your team in the hiring process allows you to validate, step by step, each new candidate, to make sure that they share your values, your passion, and your involvement. For example, a tool like WelcomeKit, with its collaborative features, allows your teammates to be part of the selection.

Then, prepare your employee onboarding. Prepare their material and a good onboarding process. This checklist is super useful to welcome your new teammates in the best conditions. Make this first day a memorable one. People must understand your vision, the values, and the culture of the company as fast as possible to be 100% autonomous.

So that you create a relevant and compatible team enabled to work together in trust.

Define precise and measurable objectives

One of the key factors of success to work remotely is to make sure the job is done in relevancy with the roadmap of the company. For that, define clear, precise, and measurable objectives.

Trello is a great tool to have a clear vision of the next steps. Here is an example of how you can use it for your startup. Then, for day-to-day tasks, use a task management tool like Wunderlist. Even if Microsoft acquired the company a few months ago, the app remains a must-have. You may also like Todoist, built by a remote team.

Therefore, building a compatible team that collaborates on every step of the hiring process, taking time to efficiently welcome your new teammates in the best possible conditions, defining crystal clear objectives and working with must-have tools to manage your project, you can build trust in your company. Then, your actions must be super transparent.

2. Be super transparent

To successfully work remotely, transparency is critical.

To reach it, your team must communicate regularly. For internal communication, avoid emails and prefer modern tools like Slack or Twist. Integrated with your tech stack, your team can share updates and follow actions done in real-time. For external communication, Front is a great tool to collaborate as a team in full transparency.

In the same way, set regular milestones like daily or weekly reports. A short and simple format is super efficient.

Here is an example:

What I got done today:
— I did this,
— And I did that.

What I plan to work on tomorrow:
— I plan to do A,
— I also plan to do B.

Some issues I’m currently facing:
— I have a problem to solve XYZ.

Also, schedule weekly conference calls with appear.in or Zoom. For those meetings, Jam allows you to get organized, to prepare the meeting, to take notes during it, and to make sure you are on schedule. To go forward on this topic, you can read some best practices in this following blog post:

In any case, it is vital that every single decision made is written. By default, in a remote team, what is not written doesn’t exist.

For that, Slite helps you gather your knowledge, all meeting notes, roadmaps, decisions, and resources for your project in one single place. This way, by setting up a wiki, the team accesses to all the information needed to know anything about the company at any time. Also, use Station rather than a classic Internet browser to collaborate on those tools with focus and efficiency.

Trust is built with transparency in your team communications and actions. Then, to make your project grow in the best conditions, your team must be able to be 100% autonomous. Automate everything.

3. Automate everything

Every action that can be automated should be. Zapier is a powerful tool to connect multiple services and to define automated scenarios so that you can limit the number of repetitive actions and focus on high-value activities.

To illustrate with the products mentioned previously:

  • When a new card is assigned on Trello, a new task is added on Wunderlist ;
  • When a task is done on Wunderlist, a notification is sent on Slack ;
  • When a meeting ends on Jam, its minutes are added on Slite.

Automate everything and limit complex processes. For instance, avoid unnecessary meetings. The cofounders of Basecamp define them as toxic as they can kill your productivity. Give your team the responsibility to make decisions and act accordingly in full autonomy.

“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”
— Steve Jobs


Synthesis

Hiring the most talented and most passionate people can be a real headache, and a financial and human cost early-stage startups cannot afford. However, new information communication technologies create opportunities to go beyond these constraints and to hire the most talented, the most relevant, and the most passionate people anywhere in the world. Moreover, to work remotely is among the most demanding criteria for those people.

To set your team up for remote work, three simple rules are crucial:

  1. Trust your team, build a compatible group and define clear objectives;
  2. Be transparent in your actions and communications;
  3. Automate everything.

To achieve it, you need to be 100% committed. A hybrid model, where only a few people would work remotely, does not work. Set these rules and best practices, incentive your teammates to progressively leave the office to find a better place to work, whether at home, in a coworking space or anywhere else where they can feel productive, and only work remotely with new employees. Remote work must be fully integrated into the values of the company and your work culture.

To go forward on this topic, below are two additional reads:

“Work doesn’t happen at work”
— Jason Fried

Thank you for reading! Feel free to share it on social networks or to buy me a coffee.

How about you? Do you work remotely with your team? What are your best practices? What are your favorite tools?

In addition, below is a collection of products to work remotely as a team, on Product Hunt:

Florent Mérian

Written by

Product and Growth Hacker

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