20 Lessons 100 Leading Remote Companies Taught us About Building a Great Remote Team

Chris Herd
Feb 22 · 4 min read

Over the last 3 years, we’ve spoken to 100+ of the leading remote-first companies on the planet

These are the 20 lessons they taught us about how to build a great remote team

1. ✍️ Documentation: documentation is the unspoken superpower of remote teams

The most successful remote companies write down and record knowledge rather than lose it if people leave

Knowledge grows and is improved over time as everyone contributes to a repository of intelligence

2. 🚨 Asynchronous: remote work is a bridge to async work

The best remote companies aim to avoid replication of the disruptions of the office

Async work empowers individuals to do deep focussed work without distraction

3. 📆 Flexibility: to attract the most talented people you need to be flexible to individual needs

Office-first companies are one size fits all which work perfectly for nobody — remote is the opposite

Pick your kids up from school, surf before dawn, work when you do your best work

4. 🏝 Time-off: remote companies prevent burnout

‘Wellness days’ are regular breaks they enforce, often without prior warning they’re about to occur

Most do 1 day every 2 months on top of regular holidays where a minimum number of days off are set & expected to be taken

5. 🛩 Time-together: being remote doesn’t mean never being together physically

When remote teams come together it’s with purpose which drives deeper connections and trust

The cadence for this varies across orgs & functions. The right cadence is typically 1–5 times per quarter

6. 🗣 Communication: who, when, why, what, & where to communicate is codified

You would never email a fire station if your house was on fire. Remote comms should be viewed the same way

Use different communication methods depending on the immediacy of response required

7. 👓 Transparency: the best remote organizations I know operate from the POV that having more information is better than less

They open up everything for anyone to view, contribute to, or consume. This breeds a more collaborative approach and leads to more aligned teams

8. 📈 Performance: output becomes the only measure of performance that matters

How long someone spends sat in a chair does not tell us anything about their quality of work

Remote companies are more scientific and granular in how they track progress and objectives

9.😴 Meetings: become less important and happen less frequently. When they do, they’re for debate & decision making

All the work & exploration of the subject happens outside the meeting, enabling more diverse opinions, exploration of ideas, and better decisions

10. 🧰 Equipment: it’s incredibly difficult to do great work if you don’t have the right tools and equipment

The best remote companies kit out their teams with everything they need to do great work, guaranteeing they are as safe and comfortable remotely as they would be in an office

11. 🌍 Hiring: office-first companies hire the best person they can afford in a 30-mile radius of their physical location

Being remote lets companies hire the best person on the planet for every single role

12. ⏰ Time-zones: are the most divisive issue

Some swear by a +/- 3 hour range

Others believe it shouldn’t matter

How async a company is decides what works

13. 🚪 Diversity & Inclusiveness: remote orgs should be far more diverse & inclusive because they’re more accessible

- single parents

- caring for others

- health conditions or impairments

Remote work discriminates against nobody making it far easier for anyone to participate

14. 🏫 Education: continued learning and professional development is integral to success

The companies doing remote work successfully invest heavily in education

Most give funding to empower individuals to take control of their own progress

15. 🎼 Community: more than ‘culture’, the best remote companies are communities

They have rituals that are widely understood and respected by the entire team

They encourage things like running clubs, or gaming nights but allow them to emerge organically

16. 🛰 Workspace: remote work does not mean work from home — it means work form anywhere

The best remote companies on the planet empower their teams to work wherever they are most productive and give them what they need to do it

17. 🧠 Mental Health: isolation and loneliness is a valid concern while working remotely

It requires individuals to be more purposeful about human connection and it’s very important that this is encouraged and ensured

18. ⭐️ Self-care: wellness, health, and happiness enable us all to do better and more meaningful work

The best remote companies heavily encourage clear boundaries and time away from work to enable this‍

19. ❤️ Empathetic Leadership: management and leadership remotely is very different

Rather than a command and control model, the best leaders in remote teams care passionately

The concept of servant leadership is something echoed widely in great remote organizations

20. 🤔 The Future: Remote isn’t about ‘the future of work’

Remote is about ‘the future of living’

Remote work is a quality of life upgrade for an entire generation

Why do these companies talk to me? FirstbaseHQ.com

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Chris Herd

Written by

CEO / Founder / Coach @FirstbaseHQ Empowering people to work in their lives not live at work ✌️✌

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