Unlocking remote work: A guide to share with your boss


What does it mean to work remotely? Is it possible to approach it gradually? How does a company working 100% face-to-face evolves to be 100% remote? At Get on Board we have the answers to these and other questions.

Not even remotely ready

Many companies were forced to implement telecommuting as an emergency measure due to Covid-19's mobility restrictions.  In most cases, the goal was to keep things running as smooth as possible while everything gets back to normal.

Spoiler alert: It won't.

In truth, the pandemic just hastened a process already in development: The rise of ICTs has led to the emergence of talent 2.0. A new kind of professionals, leading innovation and tech development in almost every industry, which prefers flexibility over the traditional 9 to 5 work structures.

This scenario sounds very challenging, so we made a short quiz to assess how far is your organization on the path to remote work. All you have to do is answer "yes" or "no" to the following questions:

Test: Is my company ready for remote work?

  •  Is your team located in a multi-story building?
  •  Do you operate in more than a single office?
  • Do you work with teams in more than one city?
  • Do you work with teams in more than one country?
  • Do you work with teams across different time zones?
  • Do you work with teams located in non-overlapping time zones?

If you answered "yes" to one or more questions, congratulations! Your company is already working remotely, even if they don't know it.

Generally, remote work is thought of in terms of space: whether or not people are in the same location. However, the time dimension is equally, and even more important when it comes to an understanding of remote work. And, as a result, we keep working as if everyone has to be in the same room. 

With that in mind, the first thing to do is understand the differences between synchronous and asynchronous work.

⏰ Synchrony vs. asynchrony  

With Singapore we only have 3.5 days of overlap in a week - our Sundays are their Mondays, so we don't work on their Mondays; our Fridays are their Saturdays. And realistically, our meetings start at 5:00 pm because it depends on the time zone and daylight saving time. On winter time, you can't start the meeting at 4:00-4:30 pm, that would be like 8:00-8:30 am or so. But then, during the other half of the year, you have to start meetings at 5:30 pm, because it's not realistic to ask people to show up at 7:00 am for meetings all the time. — Kiranjit Sidhu, VP of Engineering, Facebook

Many of the benefits of remote work are only attained as a team becomes more asynchronous, that is, non-dependant on the coordination and simultaneity of the participants. In our experience, t (he main differences between working synchronously or asynchronously are:

🕒   Synchronous: Requires the participants to coordinate with each other.

  • Conduct a meeting to make a decision
  • Conduct a live webinar
  • Have a brainstorming session
  • Have a status call

🕒🕞  Asynchronous: doesn't require participants to coordinate with each other.

  • Make a decision by email
  • Record a webinar for on-demand viewing
  • Pitch ideas on Slack
  • Reflect status in a tracking system

To recap:

⚠️ Synchrony leads to interruption. Not all interruptions are bad, but pre-scheduled events don't always mesh well with your concentration and productivity times.

🚀 Asynchrony leads to autonomy. The less my work depends on others, the less I need to coordinate with them.

👀 The hidden costs of "business as usual". 

You are probably thinking about the complications of adapt your organization for remote work, and the efficiencies cost of the adaptation period against a proven model that has been refined for years. 

But if you're one of those people who does their best work on an airplane, or you try to get to the office ahead of time to be unbothered, or you fabricate meetings in your calendar to work uninterrupted, you're actually pursuing the benefits of working asynchronously.

On the other hand, if you have a hard time scheduling meetings, or can't complete finishing your day's tasks due to "lack of time", or dream of having a "This meeting could have been an email" novelty mug, I'm sorry to tell you, but you are subsidizing the costs of synchrony.

These behaviors that are so ingrained in the way we work have a negative impact on the productivity and quality of life of the members of a team, which will eventually be reflected in the company's bottom line.

And there's more than just a time expense problem. There's also an opportunity cost since you could spend that time on more value-adding activities.  And if you work in an industry where time to market is crucial, a decision maker's time availability should not be the stumbling block for getting something done in a timely manner.

Side-hustle idea
Obviously, I'm not saying that all meetings are unnecessary. But it's worth asking yourself: How much synchronicity is essential for my team to be able to work together?

🎚 Remote work is NOT an on-off switch.

You'll often hear people say, "Oh, this isn't going to work in our company because we have an office culture." That's not really what they mean. What they mean is that they only know how to work in sync. They only know how to work if everyone is available at the same time.
Darren Murph, GitLab

If you are convinced that remote work is the right way to work, the next step is to make a plan. Patience and commitment are your best allies,  but we have are some tips that will help you to get asynchronous work rolling in your company. All tested by the Get on Board team::

  1. 📚  Document by default: If information is easy to find, that translates into fewer requests and therefore fewer bottlenecks.
  2. 🛒  Promote a self-service mentality: As a consequence of the above, if your people are trained to look for answers instead of asking and wait for an answer, you can generate a virtuous circle of productivity.
  3. 🗺  Stress test: Move leaders within your organization to other time zones to see how they perform when synchronous work is not an option.
  4. ✅  Reduce the number of approval checkpoints: Also known as the "ask for forgiveness, not for permission" principle. Basically, the fewer approvals you have to ask for and the fewer forms you have to fill out, the more autonomy you have.

We'll dive deeper into this in an upcoming post. In the meantime, you can check out our podcast on remote work to find out how the world's leading companies are addressing these challenges. And you can always find hundreds of 100% remote positions in our jobs portal.

Latest on Blog