Playbook

We've written and collated the best guidance to help your organisation successfully adopt remote & hybrid work.

Remote-First
Asynchronous Communication
Meetings
Wellbeing
Tools
Glossary

Remote-First

A mindset, not a place.

Contents:
REMOTE-FIRST

HOW TO SHIFT YOUR MINDSET

Remote-first collaboration
Remote-first is a mindset whereby you assume that everyone is remote, even if people occasionally work from offices. The benefit of having a remote-first mindset is that it helps to ensure you have a consistent employee experience, regardless of where people choose to work from, they have the same access. Everyone has an equal voice, and recognition or promotions can be awarded more fairly on the basis of the strength of one’s ideas, contributions, and output. A remote-first mentality extends to how we operate, communicate, hire, and promote, creating an environment that puts everyone on equal footing.

Recognition and career development
Hybrid working approaches may also perpetuate two different employee experiences that could result in barriers to inclusion and inequities with respect to performance or career trajectory. It is important that everyone has equal opportunities regardless of location.

Consistent employee experience
The application of the remote-first mindset is critical to the success of the blended way of working. Everyone should assume remote, meaning that things like meetings and events are planned with remote workers at the forefront. For example, rather than gathering most people in a conference room and having remote workers join from a screen to the side, everyone should have the same experience by joining the meeting remotely from their own laptop. This way, remote workers won’t feel uncomfortable speaking up or contributing.

The key principles of a remote-first mindset
/ Empowered to work remotely
/ Asynchronous-first communication
/ Processes and tools designed to include remote employees equally
/ Meetings are minimised and scheduled to include all time zones
/ People and information are equally accessible to all employees
/ Key decisions are discussed online where all relevant employees can be included
/ Equal promotion opportunities

/ HOW TO SHIFT YOUR MINDSET_

Coffee reading book

Focus on impact, not busyness
Many workplaces still operate on a visibility over productivity model that imposes strict hourly requirements. But decades of research suggest that when companies let employees work more autonomously, they become more engaged and productive. As we transition to remote-first, try to prioritise mutual trust and outcomes above attendance and activity. You can start with goal-setting:

Instead of measuring how much time your team is spending or how much stuff they do (for example, 15 projects completed), focus on measuring the impact of the outputs (increased adoption of X feature by 20%) and success factors/measures like the approach taken, customer feedback, deadlines and budget parameters.

Go non-linear
Being distributed gives you a chance to rethink the typical 9-5 workday, and to exercise autonomy over how and when we work. Doing this well will require a good deal of intention—about when to come together, how to design your workweek, and what impact looks like.

Think async, by default
In most workplaces, synchronous (real-time, meeting-based) communication is the norm. Unfortunately, this approach can lead to wasteful meetings that negatively impact our well-being and productivity. Remote-first work provides a chance to develop better habits. One of these is replacing “quick syncs” with “asynchronous by default.” Going forward, try to solve problems over Teams channel, or chat before scheduling a meeting.

Bias toward simplicity
Much remote-first communication will happen in writing. To reduce misunderstandings and move projects forward, keep it simple. Avoid too long,didn't read (TL;DR) by being concise. Help other teams by documenting your work in a way that’s easy to find and act on. That way, they won’t have to schedule a meeting or ping someone to get context.

Be patient with yourself, and each other
Experts in habit formation know that big behavioural shifts take time. This is especially true for large groups of people. As we learn to work virtually, we’re bound to make mistakes every now and again. Give yourself and your teammates permission to make mistakes, so you can learn from them.

As a leader, you should carefully choose where you work from
Leaders should role model the increased flexibility. If every leader defaults to working mainly from office, this can inadvertently cause people to feel pressured to follow, thereby increasing the likelihood of fractured employee experience and inequalities with recognition or promotions. If all leaders choose to work from the office, it will create separation with remote workers.

Back to top

Resources: Ready for Remote, 22 North, GitLab (Handbook), Buffer and Yac (Blogs)

In a world dictated by calendars and schedules, people are conditioned to operate in synchronicity — a manner in which two or more people exert effort to be in the same place (either physically or virtually) at the same time. Asynchronous communication is the art of communicating and moving projects forward withoutthe need for additional stakeholders to be available at the same time. It also provides people with an opportunity to express their opinions in the way that is best suited for them.

Since COVID began, people have gradually felt the strain of this constant need for synchronicity, leading to an increase in feelings of burnout, anxiety and stress. It leaves us all asking ourselves isn't there a better way? A way where we can received documentation and communication ahead of time that does not require everyone’s immediate response. A chance to think through information instead of giving are active response. Or, as it’s technically called: the ability to work asynchronously(“async” for short).

To move towards a bias for async-first communications, you need to start reducing the volume of synchronous communications like recurring meetings and re-imagine each of our gatherings from these principles:

/ What do we miss when we eliminate face-to-face conversation? Can this be replicated asynchronously?
/ Could a written status update replace a daily or weekly stand-up?
How could brainstorming/feedback/problem-solving/decision-making move from
/
Meetings to become a Slack or Teams written thread?

Asynchronous-first teams don’t only benefit remote team members. For office-bound team members who are on holiday, unwell, or simply miss a meeting, there’s a trove of written communication on asynchronous teams that anyone can refer back to. Asynchronous communication also benefits future employees who can examine a company’s communication archives and get up to speed on all things work and culture.

In this section, we'll look at:

/ The definition and types of asynchronous communication
/ The differences between synchronous and asynchronous communication
/ The benefits of asynchronous communication
/ How to embed asynchronous communication easily

/ DEFINING ASYNCHRONOUS COMMUNICATION_

Asynchronous communications are anything that does not require real-time attention or immediate response. In some circles, this immediate attention and response is simply referred to as “collaboration” and it’s assumed to be the business norm. However, it would be a mistake to assume collaboration and async are opposites or not compatible - quite the opposite. Async is a critical part of true collaboration.

What the COVID pandemic uncovered is that we might have gone too far with real-time collaboration.

According to Harvard Business Review, the average knowledge worker can spend up to 80% of their day communicating and collaborating. This represents a 50%increase in how often people collaborate when compared to 20 years ago. It may have been meeting fatigue that got people to realise it, but the truth was lingering around for years that workplaces had too many meetings.When collaboration is only done in real-time, a risk occurs: collaboration increases creativity, but only up to a point. 

Too much actually reduces creativity because people don’t have time to produce work.

Asynchronous communication allows employees to continue collaborating in a way that doesn’t take up everyone’s time. It usually takes one of two forms:
/ Time-boxed → “Check this before X time please” with a reasonable timeline set for the urgency and scope of the ask.
/ Convenience-based → “Check this when you can” with the expectation that all employees have time set up in their days / weeks to check information like this.

/ DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SYNCHRONOUS & ASYNCHRONOUS COMMUNICATION_

The good part about asynchronous communication is it applies to most existing business processes, the difference being setting expectations.Here are some common business tasks, and how they can be both synchronous or asynchronous depending on how you set expectations:

Sending an email:
/ Synchronous: Asking for a response ASAP (or implying it via cultural expectations of availability and service agreements).
/ Asynchronous: Setting a reasonable timeline for response.

Posting in Slack or Microsoft Teams:
/ Synchronous: Tagging (@ mentioning) someone and then following up immediately to get that person’s answer.
/ Asynchronous: Sending a message with context and waiting for the other person to respond when they can (or with a time-boxed timeline). If the message is part of a Teams channel, be sure to tag (@mention) the persons that the information is relevant to.

Don't Just Say "Hello" in Chat

12:32:12 you: Hi

12:32:15 co-worker: Hello.

## CO-WORKER WAITS WHILE YOU PHRASE YOUR QUESTION…

12:34:01 you: I'm working on [something] and I'm trying to do [etc...]

12:35:21 co-worker: Oh, that's [answer...]

It's as if you called someone on the phone and said "Hi!" and then put them on hold.Try this instead:

12:32:12 you: Hi -- hope you're well. I'm working on [something] and I'm trying to do[etc...] can you please take a look and get back to me by (X time)

12:33:32 co-worker: [answers question]

Note that by asking the question without interrupting people looking for an immediate response, your colleague can take time to think about your question and come back to you in their own timeThe same goes for:"Hello -- Are you there?", "Hi Bob -- quick question.", "Do you have a sec ?", and"ping". By simply asking the question via chat and reasonably time-boxing when you'd like a response will be more respectful to people's focus time.

You could do something like this:

12:32:12 you: Hi -- if you're not too busy, I was wondering if I could ask a question.I'm working on [something] and I'm trying to do [etc...]  can you please take a look and get back to me by (X time)

The key is to ask your question before expecting a reply, this allows for asynchronous communication. You can both work on the it in your own time, instead of just staring at a "Hello" and wondering what they missed.

Planning a meeting
/ Synchronous: Putting a hold in everyone’s calendar and going over the agenda during the meeting.
/ Asynchronous: Sending agendas, pre-read content ahead of time, alongside a collaborative document or place for people to document their ideas and solutions on their own time.

Brainstorming
/ Synchronous: Booking a meeting to brainstorm live.
/ Asynchronous: Sending the thought starter question ahead of time and letting people contribute their ideas on their own time (with a reasonable deadline attached) in a doc or channel

/ BENEFITS OF ASYNCHRONOUS_

Coffee reading book

Working asynchronously presents a lot of benefits for both the employee and the organisation as a whole.

Employee benefits
/ Mental health: There’s an anxiety toll that employees feel when they are forced to be “always on” and have immediate answers for everything. Furthermore, there’s a burnout toll from not feeling like you are accomplishing anything since you’re in meetings all day. Async helps to address both these issues.
/ Deep focus work: When you don’t have constant meetings pulling you in different directions, you can focus on your tasks at hand for longer periods of time.
/ Time to think: When there isn’t an expectation of immediate answers, you can digest, think, and do additional research to come up with a better response.

Organisation-wide benefits
/ Automatic documentation: If employees are documenting their thoughts to share asynchronously, they are automatically saved for later reference.
/ Higher productivity: When employees can sit and get work done for a couple hours at a time, significantly more is accomplished.
/ Lower costs: Salaried employees are paid no matter what. Async communication means you don’t waste their time in unnecessary meetings.

When to make it real-time
Despite its benefits, there are times when asynchronous communication is not ideal. In general, that’s one of three things:
/ Casual hangouts or celebrations.
/ Urgent issues.
/ Relationship building.

In general, asynchronous communication is ideal for execution-focused jobs but doesn’t work for all human-centered activities.

/ BUILDING AN ASYNCHRONOUS WORKPLACE_

The core to building an asynchronous workplace is not to cancel all meetings.Instead, it’s about doing two specific things:

/ Awareness: Realising the business world - Companies have gone too far with synchronous meetings to reap the full benefits of collaboration.
/ Adjustment: Flipping usual expectations. Make the company asynchronous-first with synchronous elements, instead of synchronous-first (masquerading as “collaboration”).

As you move ahead, remember to focus on these elements of async communicating: Emphasise information availability over people availability

Instead of answering questions for people directly, produce documentation for it.Create a culture where people check documentation and conduct their own research first.

Help people learn the fundamental skills of async communications
Employees need to learn:/ Writing and formatting for knowledge capture.
/ Setting reasonable time-boxed deadlines.
/ Offering context.
/ Planning times to respond to things instead of always being “always on.”

Make sure you have the right tools in place
For async to work, you need tools that enable information capture, storage, and retrieval. 

/ MOVE FROM SYNCHRONOUS TO ASYNCHRONOUS_

How to move from Synchronous-first to Asynchronous-first communications:

/ Default to meetings to Default to writing
/ Time zone coordination is crucial to Time zones are not important
/ Focused on real-time collaboration to Focused on deep work
/ Encourages an 'always on' culture to Encourages mindful disconnection
/ Fleeting conversations to Permanent documentation
/ Exclusive to Inclusive

Back to top

Resources: Ready for Remote, 22 North, GitLab (Handbook), Buffer and Yac (Blogs)

Meetings

How to reduce meetings & make them more effective

Contents:
HOW TO REDUCE MEETINGS

DO YOU NEED A MEETING?
GET GREAT AT MEETINGS

/ Too often meetings are held for status updates, or to broadcast information. All of this can be shared asynchronously_

When COVID pushed the world into remote work, an interesting thing happened:people started to question which meetings were necessary. Between meeting fatigue and the added pressure of working in a brand new way, people began to wonder if a meeting needed to happen at all. Meetings durations started receiving far more scrutiny than in the office too.

People started demanding more documentation and communication ahead of time that didn’t require everyone’s immediate response. They wanted time to think through information instead of giving a reactive response. Or, as it’s technically called: wanted the ability to work asynchronously (“async” for short).

As companies look to not only survive but thrive and innovate in an remote-first future, it’s critical to understand how asynchronous communication plays out in the business world.

/ HOW TO REDUCE MEETINGS_

By creating a culture bias towards asynchronous communication, you provide everyone with greater transparency and more time for deep focus work.Asynchronous communication is dependant on a culture based on written documentation. This helps discourage synchronous meetings as a default for collaboration and provides greater flexibility for people to determine the working hours that best suit their lifestyle and reduce the impact of working across timeZones.

The first step to create an atmosphere where colleagues are comfortable working asynchronously is to avoid the mentality that meetings are necessary. By making meetings optional, recording and documenting everything, diligently following agendas, and leveraging the right tools, people are less reliant on being online at the same time.

This culture must be actively reinforced. For example, in team social calls wheredozens of people join a video chat to bond as a team, an agenda allows those whocannot make it to add shout-outs or discussion points that others can verbalise. Thisis an intentional approach to not only working asynchronously, but also socialisingAsynchronously.

Build the habit of recognising the meeting types that you do or do not need to attend. This can help you to use your time and energy more efficiently.

/ Rather than default to meetings, challenge the meeting culture by questioning if you need a meeting before scheduling one_

Adam Grant, author and business psychologist, researched synchronous meeting scenarios and found that brainstorming rarely produces great ideas during the meeting - they often materialise afterwards, or outside of a meeting. Having a digital place for people to follow up and contribute (Microsoft Teams - channels, meeting notes, docs, or whiteboards) outside of a meeting should result in greater ideation and problem solving.

You'll quickly find that if you pause to ask yourself do you need to have a meeting?,you'll realise that you don't, and it can be shared asynchronously.

For example, status updates can be shared in written form in a public channel, enabling leaders and team members to consume what is relevant to them.

If you want to broadcast information, why not record a video, narrate the content, and share the link, outlining any feedback or actions. This way, if you still require a meeting, it is more focused on decision making.

Coffee reading book

/ DO YOU NEED A
MEETING?_

A great starting point for identifying which meetings can be more effective if done asynchronously is to better understand the common types of Meetings. We’ve created this table to separate the common meeting types into which should be done asynchronous (not-real-time) or synchronously (real-time).

/ Should be Asynchronous (not real-time):

Check-ins or stand-ups: When your team is providing a status update on their work, this can easily be done via a team communication app asynchronously.

Feedback: It’s much easier to provide feedback on a project asynchronously. Record a screen-sharing video that employees can view and respond to on their own time.

Top-down presentations: A meeting with just one person presenting to a group of people who aren’t required to participate should always be asynchronous. It’s easy to record and share a presentation with those who need to know the information.

Kickoffs: Stop kicking off projects with a Zoom meeting. Instead, record yourself walking team members through the plan and project management steps so they know how to get started and can dive right in.

Announcements: Don’t hold all-hands meetings for company announcements. Instead, send an asynchronous video message for your team to check out when they can and reply with questions.

Brainstorms: Brainstorming in real-time isn’t always the most productive. Instead, allow your team to think on their own time and bring their ideas to the table asynchronously.

Meetings that not everyone is available for: If someone can’t attend a meeting due to a time zone, vacation, or another unavailability, don’t hold the meeting without them. It can easily lead to isolation. Instead, record a voice or video message that everyone can listen to when they’re back at work.

Follow-ups: If you need to touch back in with someone, you can easily record and send a voice message. It’s more personal than an email and less intrusive than a face-to-face meeting.

External meetings: If someone wants to meet with you from outside your organisation, a sales call, a new connection on LinkedIn, or VC pitch, you can invite them to do it asynchronously over voice messaging without losing the personal touch.

/ Should remain as Synchronous (real-time):

Introductions: When new team members come on board, it’s a good idea to hold a virtual meeting or a face-to-face introduction to the team to feel welcomed and start building relationships with colleagues.

Performance reviews: Sensitive conversations are best had in real-time.

Career development meetings: If an employee wants to discuss moving up, changing positions, or negotiating their salary, these conversations should typically be had synchronously.

Crisis management conversations: For example, if your company has gone viral on social media (but not for a good reason), you may need a crisis management meeting with your team. Hold these synchronously so you can quickly decide how best to take action.

Relationship-building meetings: Help employees build rapport with limited face-to-face meetings ranging from the low-key virtual coffees to the fully planned out away days.

Strategic planning and decision-making: Sometimes big moves and the plans that put them in place require everyone to be in the room at the same time (be it a virtual room or otherwise).

Do you need a synchronous meeting? To help you decide, ask yourself these questions:
/ Why is this meeting important?
/ How can this meeting be more effective?
/ Could this meeting take place asynchronously?

If you decide you don’t need a synchronous meeting,  here’s how to explore achieving the same goal by doing it asynchronously using Microsoft Teams or Slack.

You could pre-record content, share files, or use Slack/Teams to facilitate a written message or group chat. Alternatively, you could create a Slack/Teams site or group if the work is part of a larger work-stream or project, and use channels to facilitate conversations, file sharing and collaboration.

If you answer yes, and do need a meeting, then there are certain things you should always do:
/ 1. Consider if you should share pre-read/recorded content (rather than use the meeting to broadcast information, record this or share content ahead of time)
/ 2. Every meeting requires an agenda
/ 3. Make meetings optional
/ 4. Reduce meeting duration to allow for buffer periods between meetings
/ 5. Record the meeting for absentees
/ 6. Empower your team to quickly catch up if they missed the meeting by sharing the timing of important moments in the recording. e.g. in the meeting notes list timestamps of moments they should watch back
/ 7. Take diligent notes of key actions and decisions, not meeting minutes

If you want to broadcast information, why not record a video, narrate the content, and share a link and outline any actions. This way, if you still require a meeting, it is more focused on decision making.

The notion of optional meetings is unusual to those who think in terms of synchronous communication— you're either at a meeting to contribute, or you aren't. The beauty of asynchronous communication is that people can contribute to meetings that occur when they are unavailable.

Coordinating time zones can also make synchronous meetings impractical and inefficient. Don’t default to a meeting culture — strive to make meetings optional.When you do have a meeting, ensure it has an agenda for documenting discussions, decisions, and actions. Every invite should contain the purpose and agenda, if it doesn't, people should be empowered to question it or decline the meeting.

/ GET GREAT AT MEETINGS_

Coffee reading book

Meetings are one of the options to catch up with teammates and move projects forward. They’re also one of the main ways we waste time and money. Here’s how to do meetings right when we’re async by default.

Know when to meet—and when not to
“Hopping on a quick Teams call” sounds benign, but can zap productivity. Here’s how to know if you really need that meeting.

Schedule it
These things merit a meeting:
/ Type 1 (hard to reverse) decisions: like choosing X vs. Y product direction or hiring a new teammate
/ Complex problems that need a discussion: Like defining our corporate narrative, developing a 6-month roadmap, or revising the scope of a project that’s in flight
/  Plan and reflect: Like a project kickoff to get everyone on the same page, or a lightweight retro to discuss what you learned from a recent project
/  Emotionally sensitive topics: Like giving difficult feedback or discussing a personal issue
/  Supporting and unblocking your reports: Like a regular 1:1 that helps build their career or connect their work to company goals

Don’t schedule it
These things don’t merit a meeting:
/  Status updates: If you want to share what’s up with a project and it isn’t urgent, try using Microsoft Teams 
/ FYIs and process documentation: Collect process docs, org charts, and product specs in a central place, like Teams or OneDrive. Be concise, so people will be more likely to read 
/ Meet about a meeting: Try to plan your meetings offline

Think first
These things might merit a meeting: 
/ Gathering feedback. Start with a message in Teams. If you can’t work it out in writing, try a meeting 
/ Brainstorming ideas. Many group brainstorms are ineffective. Try brainstorming with a word document or whiteboard first. If you find you need an in-person session, be sure to design yours thoughtfully
/ Happy hours, drive-bys, and buddy chats. Not everyone is energised by informal hangouts, so ask first 

Decline unnecessary meetings like it’s your job 
Meetings can be required for building rapport and moving work forward. They are also extremely costly, disruptive to productivity and can become impactful to people's wellbeing. It's a shared responsibility to think twice before scheduling a meeting, as well as politely questioning or declining meeting invitations.

Suggesting asynchronous communication over a meeting can feel uncomfortable. You want to ensure that people recognise this for what it is: a sincere attempt to move work forward in a more inclusive way. If you're invited to a meeting that may not need to exist, it's OK to respectfully decline and suggest an alternative.

Here are a few example replies.

/ "Thanks for including me. I’m wondering if we could try to solve this without a meeting via Teams chat instead so our thoughts and progress are documented?"
/ "I’ve been in so many meetings lately, I’m trying to be more disciplined about my schedule to help my wellbeing. Could we try to solve this without a meeting, first?"
/ "I’d be happy to give you feedback on that. Before we schedule a meeting, could I review it in written form?"

If the team decides to go ahead with a meeting you can’t make, ask that the meeting is recorded and clear notes are written. You may also consider assigning a delegate to represent you and contribute feedback and questions in advance.

Make necessary meetings purposeful
If your meeting falls into “schedule it!” territory, here’s how to make it worth everyone’s time.

Get organised
/ Consider time zones: Some folks may be in other regions. Try to schedule during convenient times
/ Name an owner: Someone who can keep everyone on track 
/ Have a goal: “By the end of this meeting, I want to accomplish X”
/ Set context and an agenda: “Last time we met, we talked about X. Today we’re here to talk about Y. This is important because of Z. Today we’ll cover A, B, and C” 
/ Include the right people: You’ll want folks with the authority, background, or perspective to meaningfully contribute. Productivity usually taps out at seven people, so keep the size manageable. You can share notes to anyone who needs to know afterwards

Stay on track 
/ Send agenda and reference docs in advance: If needed, start with a 5-minute silent read to review docs at the beginning of your meeting 
/ Name a note-taker: Someone who can keep it simple and send notes afterwards 
/ Be on time: Try to give a five-minute buffer at the beginning, and end five minutes early
/ Make it shorter: Do you really need an hour, or would 25 minutes be enough? Remember: conversation will expand to fit the container you give it
/ End with an action plan: Say what will happen next, and who will do what

Keep all your meetings inclusive 
Diversity of thought leads to better ideas and smarter decisions, so make space for a variety of perspectives. Here’s how: 
/ Actively include folks who aren’t speaking up: If a few people are dominating the conversation, try, “I’ve heard a lot from a few people. I’d love to hear a variety of perspectives. Jane, I know you’re familiar with this topic. Would you be willing to share?”
/ Make it safe to disagree (or be wrong): Model openness by saying, “After reviewing the docs, my hypothesis is X. I feel somewhat confident, but not completely sure—I’d love your perspective.” If you disagree, speak up, respectfully (and make sure you understand the other person’s perspective. “It sounds like your hypothesis is X. Is that right?” {Wait a beat.} “I appreciate that, but I have a different perspective. May I share it?”
/ Take it offline: When someone veers off-topic, try to get the discussion back on track in a respectful way. “I really love this conversation and I think it might warrant some additional time. Do you mind if we take this offline so we can get through everything on our agenda?”

Suggestions to help transitions;
/ Reduce traditional meeting durations to prevent back to back scheduling and create space between meetings to help your wellbeing and improve your presence.
/ Introduce no meeting days. These can be helpful to your wellbeing and improve your focus and productivity for deeper meaningful work.

Back to top

Resources: Ready for Remote, 22 North, GitLab (Handbook), Buffer and Yac (Blogs)

Wellbeing

How to support your wellbeing working remotely

Contents:
HOW TO STAY WELL
DO NOT DISTURB
BEYOND WORK

Most people had never worked outside of an office for a sustained period before the pandemic. It is important to keep this in mind as you begin to evolve ways of working as the world starts to open back up again. Most people in organisations across the world have seen in the following trends during the pandemic:

/ Organisations have defaulted to replicating the physical office virtually, resulting in Meeting fatigue
/ The unstable economic climate has created nervousness about job security, the by-product being many people are overworking as they feel they need to show value to safeguard their jobs - this is giving employers a false high productivity indicator, with many beaming of productivity gains.
/ People are substituting the time saved from not having to commute to work longer, leading to burnout

The good news is that as the world begins to ease lockdowns, we will begin to have greater freedom to choose where we work from. As this happens, people will start to see the true benefits of working in a blended way:

/ Greater Flexibility - The freedom to Work from anywhere
/ Better Talent & Greater Diversity - Attract and retain talent without local boundaries
/ More Space - Reduced office leases, remove capacity problems
/ More Transparency - News, Communication and Files in one place.
/ Happier Employees - Fewer commutes, more time, reduced distractions
/ Higher Productivity - Deeper focus time, fewer meetings
/ Environmental Sustainability - Remote jobs create less waste and shorter commutes, which mean lighter carbon footprints.
/ Economic Development - When workers are geographically dispersed, so is their impact on communities, industry innovation, and the global economy

However, workplace distractions and notifications are not solely to blame for the decline in mental health. Our lack of self awareness is contributing too.

Gloria Mark, a professor of informatics at the University of California at Irvine produced findings from the science of interruptions. These revealed some concerning statistics. The most recent research found that people's attention on their computer for any screen, the median length was about 40 seconds before their attention breaks. Layer that with the statistic that it took people 25 mins to refocus on the original task. It's hardly surprising that the way many people work is unsustainable, causing wellbeing to suffer. 

Following guidance on how to configure notifications, protect your time, and switch off to reduce distractions is a good start, but it is not enough. It is going to take an act of extreme self awareness to even notice all of these distractions. We need to practice the skill of mindfulness to enhance our self awareness and gradually improve our focus and wellbeing.

/ HOW TO STAY WELL_

Sticking with healthy habits can be challenging under the best of circumstances—let alone a global pandemic and an all-new working reality. In this section, we’ll share a few ways to stay healthy while working remotely.

Your home office
Your desk may be two feet away from your dinner table—but it doesn’t have to feel that way. Intentionally organising your workspace and investing in some basic equipment can keep life and work feeling separate, even when they’re blended. 

Designate a workspace 
Working from a consistent place each day will help you get in the zone and will also help you disconnect at the end of your day, protecting the boundaries of work and personal time. Try to find someplace relatively private, preferably not in your bedroom if you can. If you live in a small apartment, you could put your desk near a window or low-traffic corner, where you’re less likely to be distracted.

Find a decent chair
Well-designed office seating is nice—but you don’t need fancy equipment to prevent a trip to the chiropractor. Try to find a chair with an upright back and a supportive cushion. Try not to work from your bed or our couch all day. 

Work on your feet
Sitting a lot isn’t great for your health, so try to stand up or walk around a bit every 30 minutes or so. It's a luxury, but if you intend on working from home more often, you could invest in a standing desk.

Get noise-canceling headphones
If barricading yourself away from kids or traffic sounds is a pipe dream, try noise-canceling headphones. Many tools now has noise cancelling technology built into them to reduce noise from barking dogs, or if people are snacking from their favourite crisp packet.

Make your space a sanctuary
Home is not a sanctuary for everyone. If you are fortunate enough to have a workspace at home, an inspiring home office can improve your day just as much as a functional one. Small things—like plants, family photos, or works of art—can make your space more inspiring and motivating.

Set better boundariesIt’s hard to avoid distractions at home (children, snack drawers), but it is possible to plan around them. The pandemic has made this really difficult, but we will get better at this. Building boundaries into your day can help you feel less scattered, and give you more time to recharge. Simple things like agreeing principles for when you will be doing deep focus work with people in the home.

Build transitions to and from work
Simple “boundary rituals,” like tidying up your desk or shutting down your computer at the end of the day, will tell your brain that your workday has officially ended—so you can start fresh tomorrow.

Work in chunks
Multitasking makes us less productive. Try to block part of your day for deep work (like strategic planning, writing) and another part for meetings and administrative tasks. When you’re heads down, make sure you make use of the do not disturb status in your workplace tools and configure notifications to reduce distractions.

Communicate
Once you’ve set your boundaries, don’t forget to tell your manager, coworkers, and family. This will help them support you better.

/ MIND & BODY_

Be kind to your mind
When it comes to staying healthy, there are a few behaviours that almost always work—even when administered in small doses. Here’s how to take care of the basics: 

Practice self-compassion
Being kind to yourself isn’t throw away advice. It’s an evidence-based antidote to stress and depression that’s closely linked to increased productivity and resilience. The next time you mess up or don’t manage to complete everything on your list, notice if you’re using a critical voice with yourself. If so, see if you can shift it to a more respectful, understanding voice—one you’d use with a friend who was going through a tough time.

Seek out positive social connections 
Strong relationships are one of the biggest predictors of longevity and health. Whether it’s a weekly date night or 5-minute text thread, making time for your friends and loved ones are one of the best ways to stay well. 

Move your body 
Regular exercise has countless benefits. It regulates mood, improves cognition, promotes sleep… and on and on. Try to get moving every day, even if it’s just a walk or two around the block. 

Mind your mental health 
Just like physical health, mental health has a huge impact on productivity and life satisfaction. There are now many online therapy and coaching services and a variety of other resources like meditation and breathing apps (see our wellbeing toolkit later in this section). If you’re feeling stressed or depressed, seeking support is a smart way to take care of yourself. (Managers: If you notice one of your team is struggling, look for ways to support them).

Get some sleep
Sleep scientist Matthew Walker has said, “There does not seem to be one major organ within the body, or process within the brain, that isn’t optimally enhanced by sleep (and detrimentally impaired when we don’t get enough).” Far from being an indulgence, research shows that getting 7-9 hours of sleep nightly is crucial to regulating your immune function, productivity, mood, blood sugar, and more. So: Don’t cheat your sleep. To get a good night’s rest: 

/ Go to bed and wake up at the same time daily
/ Replace LED bulbs in your bedroom (blue light disrupts sleep)
/ Keep your bedroom temperature cool (lower than 65 degrees is ideal—your body needs to decrease its temperature by 2-3 degrees to initiate sleep)
/ An hour before bedtime, dim your lights and turn off screens
/ Don’t go to bed tipsy (alcohol suppresses REM dream sleep)
/ Avoid caffeine after 1pm

Calendar your zen 
For certain personalities, scheduling time for self-care like meditation or exercise can help you stick with it. Try blocking these off on your calendar using 'Protect Time' from the Microsoft Insights App in Teams, and then treating them as seriously as you would a meeting.

Recharge on the regular
Elite performers and athletes know that rest is just as important as hard work. Learning to manage your energy, not just your time, will make you more resilient over the long-haul.

Stop before you’re spent
When you’re on a deadline or in the zone, it can be tempting to work through lunch—until you snap out of it at 3 pm, feeling hangry and disoriented. Keep an eye on your energy throughout the day. Notice when you’re in the optimal performance zone (challenged, but not exhausted). If you’re not feeling challenged, see if you can increase your focus on whatever you’re doing. If you start to feel depleted or overly stressed, take a break. 

Unplug (for real)
When you take vacation, try to unplug as best you can. Put your work away. Stop your notifications. Consider turning off access to your work email if your team is comfortable with it. Taking time to truly disconnect will make you more productive over the long haul.

Know what drains and sustains you
Some people need hours of heads-down time to do their best work. Others need frequent social interaction. Understanding which projects and interactions invigorate you, and which don’t, makes it easier to manage your energy. If you’re not sure, try this creative energy worksheet.

Don’t over-meeting it
New research suggests that trying to read your coworkers’ body language, something that happens quite naturally in person, is difficult and draining over video. Avoid meeting fatigue by shifting to an asynchronous-first culture, using written communication more often.

6 ways to be more mindful every work day

/ When your morning alarm sounds, turn it off without checking your email, browsing the internet, or scrolling through social media. Bonus points for getting an old school alarm clock./ Before you browse, press pause. Close out all the tabs you don't need and focus on the task in front of you.
/ When you're in a meeting, close out of your inbox and messaging apps, and just focus on the person speaking to you.
/ Take breaks away from your desk by going for a walk or eating outside.
/ Before you send that email, take three deep breaths. Now reread it, and make sure it's good to go.
/ Use the first 10 minutes of your commute (can be a virtual commute) as a mindfulness exercise. Turn down the radio or podcast and just pay attention to what it feels like to be seated in your home office, in your car or on the train.

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Often people have negative connotations when thinking about technology and wellbeing. People often blame devices as the cause. However, if we reevaluate our relationship with technology you can find that it can actually become supportive for improving your wellbeing at work.

Slack, Twist or Microsoft Teams is usually your digital collaboration platform and often contains features to help you create time and space in your diary for deep focus work.
In this section, we'll look at how you can use the tools to support better wellbeing and balance.

Things we would suggest exploring and experimenting with are:

Reduce Distractions
Configure and turn off notifications - Buzzing, binging devices are gateways to distraction. If you need to unwind at night or focus during the day, try configuring or disabling notifications for a period of time.

/ Configure notifications to reduce distractions and be notified when it is relevant for you
/ Set default do not disturb hours
/ Pause notifications
/ Set a notification schedule
/ Do not disturb (DND) shortcuts and commands

See what is relevant to you and reduce feelings of being overwhelmed:

/ Be mindful of when to use tagging (@ mentioning). If people have not configured notifications, by default, any time you @mention them, it will create a distraction via a notification. Best practice would be to tag (@mention) someone when you need them to read something, just be mindful to set expectations of when you need a response.

/
If people follow the practice of knowing when to tag (@mention) people, it will enable you to use your activity feed (icon in the top left of Microsoft Teams) to track and see what is relevant to you, rather than having to scroll through a conveyor belt of messages to find what you need.

/ Saving for later - Use the save message feature to reduce the need for immediate responses, or searching through conveyor belts of information.

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/ Finding what you need - use the command/search bar in Teams to search for People, chats, and files. You can also use it for shortcuts, you can try this by typing / and seeing some suggestions.

Audit your calendar 
Take a look at your calendar on a typical week. What do you spend most of your time on? When do you tend to get interrupted or take breaks? How much of your time is planned vs. reactive? Knowing your style and goals, what would you cut or rearrange? 

Plan out your schedule 
Now that you know what to focus on (and what not to focus on), it’s time to schedule your week. In your calendar: 

/ Block off time for critical deep work
/ Schedule meetings for important projects that require collaboration (don’t forget about to think about core collaboration hours for your team)
/ Reschedule any conflicts that come up
/ Add in time for lunch, breaks, or self-care (meditation, yoga)

Set a team curfew 
Boundaries are easier to maintain when everyone agrees on them. See what happens if you set a team curfew in your timezone, and try not to send messages or comments after that. If you like writing at night, schedule your drafts for the next day.

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/ BEYOND WORK_

Practicing healthy habits for your mind and body should not be limited to work. Integrating these practices into your daily life will improve your wellbeing significantly.  In this section we will look at things you can explore to benefits your personal lifestyle.

Meditation
To allow you to sustain productivity and create more balance in your life, you need to disengage and replenish your energy, which is why disconnecting is important to prevent burnout:

/ 30 days of meditation lowers stress by 32%, and just 4 sessions reduces burnout by 14%
/ 30 days of meditation can increase focus by 14%
/ 20 days of meditation shows 21% more compassionate behaviour, and cuts aggression & reactivity to negative feedback by 57%

Microsoft Teams now has a Headspace integrations in the Insights app of Teams as part of starting and ending your day mindfully. However, for much richer content, we suggest using one of the two leading apps for Meditation - Headspace or Calm.

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Exercise and Nutrition.
Only 8% of people stick to resolutions. Forget resolutions - They’re a bit broad and vague. Focus on setting goals instead – and most importantly, realistic goals. What’s a realistic goal? Here are a few examples:

/ Drop 15lbs (7kg) in week one = unrealistic
/ Complete 3 workouts in week one = realistic
/ Achieve superhero levels of muscle mass in 6 weeks = unrealistic
/ Nail lifting form and see increased definition in 6 weeks = realistic

If big goals seem daunting, set smaller, more specific goals for exercising– like doing 3 workouts, or cooking at home instead of eating out for a week. These stepping stones will get you into the swing of good habits, and when you achieve them, they’ll give you the motivation to keep going. If you want more know-how on setting smart goals, we’ve got you. By setting shorter, achievable milestones, you can gradually build up to sustain a fitness plan.

Nutrition is key too. Eating well gives you more energy, helps you sleep better, improves your concentration and, you guessed it, keeps a healthy mind.Research indicates that eating fruits and vegetables throughout the day isn’t simply good for the body—it’s also beneficial for the mind. A fascinating paper in the Journal of Health Psychology highlights the extent to which food affects our day-to-day experience. The more fruits and vegetables people consumed (up to 7 portions), the happier, more engaged, and more creative they tended to be.

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We've created a wellbeing category in our toolkit where you can explore the best tools to support you and your team

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Resources: Ready for Remote, 22 North, GitLab (Handbook), Buffer, Headspace, Yac (Blogs)

Tools

Remote teams need access to digital tools that they can use anytime, anywhere.

Are your tools weighing you down? We’ll help you streamline for efficiency.

What is a Digital Toolkit?
Digital Toolkits, or Software Toolkits, are made up of all of the individual software tools your organisation uses, from company-wide email, messaging, video conferencing, project management and wellbeing tools, to individual team collaboration systems.

How do Digital Toolkits impact the success of a remote work model?
Software and technology advancements are the reason remote work is viable. But working remotely well requires more than providing your team with a laptop full of tools. Having a comprehensive set of tools in place to keep your team connected and working efficiently wherever they work is just the beginning. Your tools are only as good as how well your team uses them. Streamlining your software, providing custom guidelines for usage, and driving adoption through education, and iteration is key to success.

How Ready for Remote can help:
We’ll guide your organisation through the analysis, creation and adoption phases for your digital infrastructure to streamline operational efficiency. From streamlining and increasing the adoption of how your organisation uses existing tools to implementing full-scale digital transformation, we’re here for you.

It's important to focus on the outcomes you're trying to achieve before thinking about the technology you'll use to achieve them. The technology only enables you to reach your goals.

How can technology support ways of working?
Most organisations use a digital version of the office. Often it is either Slack or Microsoft Teams used a the digital collaboration platform. It's where people go to work - to communicate, collaborate, get the information they need, and connect. By using these effectively, you can start to shift a lot of your real-time work to non-real-time, meaning people have greater control over their time. 

Structuring your Slack or Microsoft Teams
It’s important to dedicate the time to organise Slack or Teams to facilitate team communication, projects, files, and social interactions.

When creating what is called ‘channels’, we advise using the channel naming suggestions. This helps people quickly identify what type of channel it is, and ensures the channels are grouped making it easier to find what you need. You can also add emojis to channel names to make them more visible. We do offer private channels too, these should be only used for highly sensitive information that is not for public consumption.

Channel Prefix and Suggestions:

General - default place for team wide conversation, meetings, files & tabs
Proj 📝
- for cross-functional teams working together on projects (proj). Examples: proj-mars, proj-moon
Social
- for virtual water coolers conversations. Examples: social-books 📚, social- films 🍿
Announcements 📢
-  for company-wide announcements. Examples: announcements-global, announcements-engineering
Loc 🌎
- for locations or regions to coordinate work and activities. Examples: loc-china, loc-malaysia
Dept 🏬
- for departments to coordinate work and activities. Examples: dept- workmodernisation, dept-security
Event 🎫
- to plan and execute events, large and small.  Examples: event- livelearning, event-offsite, event-itttalktime
Team
🚀 - for one team’s conversations and updates if they do not have their own team and are housed within a larger departmental team. Examples: team-rewardrecognition, team-hrhelpdesk
Checkout or Reporting 🔁 - for project teams to asynchronously provide weekly or daily progress updates;  what have they achieved, what's up next, and are there are any blockers. This reduces the need for leaders to unnecessarily interrupt people, or have status meetings for updates
Meet 🤝 - an option to run a specific team recurring meeting to chat, share files, notes for that meeting in one channel

/ DIGITAL TOOLKIT_

Choosing the right tools can be daunting. At Ready for Remote, we've tried almost every tool out there to figure out what works best for every scenario. With so many different types of tools on the market, our digital tools consultancy service helps you navigate the myriad of options, optimise your toolkit, and increase adoption.

You can also visit our Digital Tools Explorer, where you can browse the best tools for remote teams.

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Resources: Ready for Remote, 22 North

Glossary

Words or phrases associated with remote work

This glossary of remote work definitions will get you up to speed with the lingo in no time.Before you scroll down to the complete list of vocabulary words and phrases, it’s important to understand the nature of working remotely in general. So, to start, here are some of the most important remote work glossary terms to know:

Work From Home - Work from home, abbreviated as WFH, is when a company employee decides to complete their tasks from  their home. Usually, this is a temporary thing, perhaps a day when the employee needs to wait for a delivery at home, can’t find a babysitter, or simply wants to concentrate on a deeper level than can be done at a loud and busy office.

Remote Work - Remote work is usually considered to be when a company employee works from home on a permanent or near-permanent basis. Their daily workspace is often a dedicated area such as a home office or fixed spot in the home. A remote employee may visit the company’s office, if they have one, or co-working spaces, but they likely won’t have a dedicated desk or office there.

Hybrid Company - A hybrid company (also known as a hybrid-remote company) is one where a physical office exists and a portion of the employees show up physically while others contribute remotely. There are several types of hybrid working environments, including the office-centered hybrid model (employees get a day or two where they’re allowed to work from home) all the way to a remote-first hybrid model (company is digital-first, but physical offices exist for those to visit when they so choose).

Distributed Company - A distributed company is one where its employees are spread out across various regions or countries, often in different time zones. While there may be one or several physical offices, a substantial number of the employees are considered remote workers. Having a distributed workforce means that most, if not all, of the company’s information and resources must be available digitally in the cloud.

All-Remote Company - An all-remote company is one in which there is no physical office or headquarters location, and every employee, including executives, works completely remotely.

Annualised hours - Annualised hours refers to the total number of hours worked or to be worked in one year. Some distributed organisations use annualised hours to allow both the company and its employees more flexibility. For example, rather than requiring employees to work 8-hour days, the company may institute a 1920-hour yearly contract. This enables companies to respond to busy periods or emergencies with employee labor which can be deducted at other, slower times. It also allows employees to choose the most convenient working schedule for themselves, rather than requiring a 9–5 sort of schedule, especially helpful for creative-type jobs.

Asynchronous Communication - Asynchronous communication is when information is exchanged amongst a team or group of employees without the need for or expectation of a timely response. This form of communication is commonly used on distributed workforces, particularly when various members of the team are located across different, distant time zones and locations. You can read more on this in chapter 2 of this guide.

Blended Team - A blended team is one made up of both full-time employees and contract talent working together on the same project and goals. Blended teams are popular in smaller or newer startups, particularly when a company can’t afford to fully employ the necessary people required.

Brick-and-Mortar - Brick-and-mortar describes a physical location, such as a traditional bank with a street address which customers can visit, as opposed to an online location.

Cloud Storage - Cloud storage refers to the ability to store, edit, and access data from anywhere through the internet, as opposed to physical storage of files or local servers which can only be accessed from within a single company network. Examples of cloud storage providers include OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Cloud Platform, Amazon Web Services, and others.

Co-Located Team - A co-located team is one whose members are all in the same location. While a co-located team usually implies that all its members are physically together in the same office space, it is sometimes used to refer to a team where members are located relatively close to each other (same city or country or time zone) versus a “distributed team” (see definition below).

Coworking - Coworking is where people from different companies work together in the same physical location (a “coworking space,” see below). Coworking has become popular for people on distributed teams or freelancers, as it enables them to have physical human interaction with others while being located far from their own colleagues.

Coworking Space - A coworking space is an office environment set up specifically to meet the needs of individual employees working remotely, freelancers, and smaller companies. A single person or a group of people can rent out a desk or office within the coworking space at a much lower cost and a much more flexible length of time obligation than would be the case with traditional office space. Many coworking spaces offer perks, equipment, and services common in top startups, such as lounge areas, a refreshments area, a receptionist, daily cleaning services, phone booths, and more.

Compressed Working Week - A compressed working week is one where an employee works the standard 40 hours in a shorter period of time. For example, rather than working 5 8-hour days per week, a compressed work week could be 4 10-hour days.

Dematerialisation - Dematerialisation refers to the process of transitioning a company and its processes from physical locations and infrastructure toward their digital counterparts. Dematerialisation goes hand in hand with digitalisation.

Digital Nomad - A digital nomad is someone who wanders from place to place, enabled by remote — often freelance — work which gives them the freedom and flexibility to do so.

Distributed Company - A distributed company is one where its employees are spread out across various regions or countries, often in different time zones. While there may be one or several physical offices, a substantial number of the employees are considered remote workers. Having a distributed workforce means that most, if not all, of the company’s information and resources must be available digitally in the cloud.

Explicit Communication - Explicit communication is the kind which is clearly stated and easily understood. Because of the distributed, often asynchronous nature of remote work, explicit communication is a required skill, particularly when working with colleagues who have different primary languages.

Face-to-Face Meeting - A face-to-face meeting, sometimes abbreviated as an “F2F meeting,” is essentially a physical meeting, an in-person meeting as opposed to one which takes place digitally over Microsoft Teams, for instance.

Flex Time - Also known as “flexi time” or “flexible time,” flex time refers to an employee’s daily schedule where they aren’t strictly required to work the normal 9–5 or even hours back to back. With flex time, a worker can choose when to work to accommodate their productivity levels, personal responsibilities, and other engagements. For example, a remote employee with flexi time may take their child to school, work for a few hours, pick their child up, then work late in the evening again once their child goes to bed.

Freelance Work - Freelance work is an outsourced task or project performed by temporary, contract-based workers (“freelancers”) as opposed to being done by internal employees.

Freelancer - A freelancer is someone who performs work on a contractual, temporary basis, often for a single gig or project. Freelancers are not employed by the company, and so they may take several projects on from different clients simultaneously.

Future of Work - The future of work refers to predictions about, and the study of, what is to come as far as employment processes, careers, workplaces, work modes, and workforces. Research into this topic can lead to both pessimistic and optimistic predictions on what the future looks like, and it includes insight into economic migration, job creation, rising and falling industries, economic inequality, workers’ rights, and much more.

Gig Economy - The gig economy refers to the portion of the labor force that involves on-demand services, freelance work, and short-term contracts, including the freelancers (called “gig workers,” in this case), contractors, companies, and facilitating middle platforms that make it all happen.

Great Resignation - The Great Resignation is a recent post-pandemic socio economic trend involving a mass exodus of workers switching careers, leaving their current jobs, changing course to be a stay-at-home parent, retiring early, or otherwise adjusting their professional lives. Since the global coronavirus crisis began in early 2020, many in the workforce have decided to better account for personal priorities, inflexible employers, a renewed focus on education, and other factors by reviewing and shifting their career goals.

Home Office - A home office is a specially designated area in someone’s home which serves as their remote workspace.

Hybrid Company - A hybrid company (also known as a hybrid-remote company) is one where a physical office exists and a portion of the employees show up physically while others contribute remotely. There are several types of hybrid working environments, including the office-centered hybrid model (employees get a day or two where they’re allowed to work from home) all the way to a remote-first hybrid model (company is digital-first, but physical offices exist for those to visit when they so choose).

Implicit Communication - Implicit communication is the kind of messages and signals someone makes, both intentionally and unintentionally, outside of direct verbal communication (see “explicit communication”). This can include body language, facial expressions, hand gestures, tone of voice, the choice of words, timing, and a whole lot more. Implicit communication can also be interpreted through one’s actions, attitude, and deeds over a period of time, and it is very much open to interpretation. This kind of communication can be more difficult to convey when one or more remote workers are involved.

In-Person Meeting - An in-person meeting (also known as a “face-to-face meeting”) is simply one where attendees are physically present, as opposed to virtual meetings over Microsoft Teams.

Knowledge Worker - A knowledge worker is someone whose employment or freelance contracts involve working with information, as opposed to performing tasks with crucial physical components. Knowledge workers include software developers and engineers, graphic designers, accountants, social media managers, content writers, editors, scientists, academics, lawyers, and others. Many knowledge workers have no need for a physical office space, and so they are well-equipped to be employed in flexible or fully remote environments.

Offsite Meeting - An offsite meeting is a physical company meeting which takes place outside the office. Offsite meetings are often used to boost morale and team bonding, gather a distributed company together in one place, announce upcoming developments or goals, or celebrate a recent success, among other things.

Offshoring - Offshoring is a business practice where some internal operations and processes move abroad, usually for tax incentives, lower employee salaries, or to take advantage of a workforce with specialized skills. With offshoring, the company still retains full control over the foreign entity, usually by setting up a satellite office and registering in the new country as a business.

Onsite Meeting - An onsite meeting is essentially a physical company meeting taking place at the office. Generally, however, it implies a larger event than the standard team or company meeting, perhaps with guest speakers, catering, breaks, presentations, and possibly even key stakeholders, customers, prospective clients, and sponsors.

Outsourcing - Outsourcing is a business practice where operations, processes, production, or other activities are transferred to a third party. This is normally done to save costs, reduce time, or enable a product or service that couldn’t otherwise be performed in-house.

Remote Employee - A remote employee or remote worker is someone who is hired by a company but performs their work outside the company’s offices (if a physical workplace even exists).

Remote OK - See “remote-friendly.”

Remote Work - Remote work is usually considered to be when a company employee works from home on a permanent or near-permanent basis. Their daily workspace is often a dedicated area such as a home office or fixed spot in the home. A remote employee may visit the company’s office, if they have one, or co-working spaces, but they likely won’t have a dedicated desk or office there.

Remote-First - A remote-first company is one which primarily hires employees who will work away from the physical office space. A remote-first company may hire key personnel to work in the central office or in satellite offices, but the majority of its staff will be remote. All business processes are optimised to make location irrelevant.

Remote-Friendly - Also known as a “remote OK” company, remote-friendly refers to an organisation which empowers its employees to work remotely, if they choose to do so. However, it may require some meetings or entire days at the office each week.

Retreat - A retreat, often called a company retreat, is an offsite event minimally or not at all focused on work. Instead, the goals of a company retreat are to improve morale, increase team bonding, allow team members to interact with colleagues they don’t often work with, and simply relieve stress and recharge energy.

Satellite Office - A satellite office is a secondary physical space of a company that is not a headquarters or primary office. Satellite offices are often situated in smaller cities and usually have far fewer employees than an HQ or any of the company’s main offices.

Single Source of Truth - A single source of truth (SSOT), sometimes known as simply a source of truth, is a practice where all information, data, instructions, and other details on a given subject is documented in one place. By implementing a single source of truth, employees across the company have access to the latest, most accurate information at any given time. Everyone gets the same data, which allows remote employees, in-house staff, external contractors, and potentially others (investors, clients, etc.) to operate more efficiently and intelligently.

Software as a Service - Software as a service, abbreviated as SaaS, is a business model where software is licensed to be used via a subscription, as opposed to buying the software outright.

Solopreneur - A solopreneur is essentially a single person who’s created their own business. It is a portmanteau of “solo” + “entrepreneur.”

Synchronous Communication - Synchronous communication is information relayed and received in real time, such as a video meeting, phone call or face-to-face conversation.

Telecommuting - While often used synonymously with “working remotely,” telecommuting (sometimes referred to as telework) more resembles the definition of “working from home,” because it doesn’t necessarily mean the employee is permanently remote.

Video Chat - A video chat is a form of communication using both a video and sound held over the internet. Video chats are a form of synchronous communication and sometimes referred to as a virtual face-to-face conversation.

Virtual Assistant - A virtual assistant is someone who provides various kinds of support from a distance. In many cases, virtual assistants are external employees (freelancers), though a company may hire a virtual assistant as an employee (to be something of a remote research assistant, for example). Virtual assistants may use both synchronous and asynchronous communication, and they can help with tasks involving administrative efforts, research, technical help, creative support, and other services.

Work From Home - Work from home, abbreviated as WFH, is when a company employee decides to complete their tasks from  their home. Usually, this is a temporary thing, perhaps a day when the employee needs to wait for a delivery at home, can’t find a babysitter, or simply wants to concentrate on a deeper level than can be done at a loud and busy office.

Workation - A workation (portmanteau of “work” + “vacation”) is where an employee will take a holiday, trip, or vacation and still perform some or all of their usual duties. Remote employees often use their location flexibility to get some rest and relaxation in away from their homes and personal lives without having to take paid time off.

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Resources: Ready for Remote, 22 North, GitLab (Handbook), Buffer and Yac (Blogs)

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