Remote work is the future!

What they haven’t told you about remote work.


Working remotely is still a relatively new style, but according to reports almost 50% of tech companies will have more than 30% of their workforce operating remotely by 2020, which sounds crazy and awesome all at once. Both employees and companies will gain some huge benefits from this trend. Don't like reading? Listen audio version of this article.

1) Freedom to choose location

Going remote gives people the opportunity to choose any location they like. And I mean any location. As long as there is a proper internet connection, you can work from every location, even from the South Pole (if there is a Starbucks). Always keep in mind the following factors before moving to your next location.

  • Quality of Internet
  • Quality of Services
  • Criminality
  • Weather
  • Costs

For all these things I highly suggest you visit Nomad List, where you can find all the information you need for your next adventure! All information there is curated and directly from digital nomads all over the world.

2) Costs

But what’s the biggest advantage? Being able to work naked? No! It’s that you can choose to live in places with better costs of living. Getting a salary from one country and spending it in another is a huge benefit. Imagine having a San Francisco salary (or even lower) without needing to pay the awfully high rent in the Bay Area. You can choose any location you like based on your preference and save tons of money. How much money? Let’s check out this small example below.

If you’re able to work remotely, you will actually be left with more money because your expenses are way lower.

Think about such the benefits that financial stability would give you and your family. You don’t need to only search for local jobs anymore. Be smart.

3) Do you feel alone?

Keep in mind that remote work is not like working in the office. You simply don’t have anyone around you. You can’t go and chat with someone next to the coffee machine. You need to have the right mindset to be a remote worker (or you will need to develop it), and you sometimes might feel lonely. But there are always options to connect with people and teammates via meetups, Skype, Slack, etc.

At the end of the day, you need to be a really strong individual to be able to handle all of these things. Remote working is not for everyone.

4) Team communication

Keep in mind that remote teams can work like any other team that you’re used to, and even use similar tools in their process. I work at Toptal, which I’ve seen grow from 7 to 100+ employees without ever having an office. The entire company is remote, including the engineering team, design team, sales team, growth team, and more. One of our co-founders, Breanden, has been traveling non-stop since starting the company. You might think that’s crazy, and there really is no other big company doing things like this.

How do we do this?

Daily communication and meetings— Slack and Skype

Weekly Demos — GoToMeeting

Task Management — Trello, Jira, and Freshdesk

Team Management — Custom tools

Design Collaboration — Invision, Trello, Collabshot

With all of these tools and proper scheduling, you can run an entire company remotely. Additionally, keep in mind that if you have meetings, keep them quick and to the point so everyone can get back to their work. Meetings are toxic.

5) Design vs. Remote Working

I’ve been working remotely for almost 5 years, and now leading the design team at Toptal. During my career, I’ve found out a couple of interesting things.

A) It’s harder to deliver awesome products (design-wise) remotely.

It’s easy to deliver things 98% correct, but fixing the 2% worth of tiny differences can be tough. Why? Some things are simply harder to communicate online. There is a difference between iterating based on interactions with a developer who is in the room and one who is online. Trust me there is! :) You simply can’t go and tell them move a certain button 3 pixels up.

B) It consumes a bit more energy.

You need to inform and motivate people way more remotely than in regular work. You basically need to share a lot of your internal energy and give it to other people.

C) You need to get way more visual.

When you deliver feedback to your team or to a developer, it doesn’t matter what it is, you need to make sure that everything is described properly and also has good visualisations.

6) So how do you build better products remotely?

We’ve actually found out the most efficient way to do this: Work fully remotely on the product, then after a period of time travel to one place together to brainstorm, polish every little detail, recharge, and motivate the team, and then everyone can move to a different location again. Ideally you should do this every 3/4 months to be effective, and you shouldn’t be together longer than 2 weeks, otherwise you will lose momentum.

It’s all about timing. You should manage these meetups based on the product state.

7) The future of remote working

There is one more thing I’m curious about. Since way more companies are going to start accommodating remote working (due to costs, lack of local talented employees, and other benefits), I’m curious how much it’s going to affect the economy. Many more people will be earning money in one state and spending all of it in another country, which could affect the economy as the volume of people doing this rises.

What do you think? Are you a design or development rockstar willing to push hard remotely? Come and join us! We’re always looking for amazing talent at Toptal. You can read more about the Toptal screening process here and apply here.

Luboš is a Designer traveling all over the world. He is also leading the design team at Toptal. And constantly talking about design.
I was giving this talk on Behance Portfolio Review at Prague.

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Published in Startups, Wanderlust, and Life Hacking

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