You’re reading an excerpt of The Holloway Guide to Remote Work, a book by Katie Wilde, Juan Pablo Buriticá, and over 50 other contributors. It is the most comprehensive resource on building, managing, and adapting to working with distributed teams. Purchase the book to support the author and the ad-free Holloway reading experience. You get instant digital access, 800 links and references, a library of tools for remote-friendly work, commentary and future updates, and a high-quality PDF download.

Build a Handbook

Common questions covered here
What is a remote work policy?
Is a remote company handbook different from a regular company handbook?
How do you implement remote working?

A handbook (or content cache) is a written document that contains a company’s goals, policies, procedures, teams, methods, and any other relevant information for employees to do their work.

The GitLab handbook has become one of the most cited examples on how to do this well because it’s thorough and extremely transparent. Basecamp has an open-sourced handbook too, which is much simpler than GitLab’s.

In general, any company handbook should include:

  • the company’s values and mission

  • details about vacation, benefits, and sick days

  • onboarding-specific information (laptop setup, new accounts, et cetera)

  • more specific information about how the company operates, which often includes links to other department-specific information, planning and goals, et cetera

  • a company directory or org chart.

A remote company will also want to include details about:

Ideally, a company with a remote-first attitude is building their handbook from day one, starting with establishing and writing down its values and providing documentation on goals and working together. Using an established asynchronous collaborative tool like a knowledge base or wiki makes creating, adding to, and updating this kind of information easier, and can distribute the documentation requirements across people.

importantWriting a handbook on its own isn’t enough. This content has to be regularly and consistently maintained for it to be valuable. See more on the OAC Principle of document maintenance in Documentation: Less is More.

Further Reading on Company Handbooks

Provide Regular and Predictable Updates

Company leadership, departments, and teams can help the organization be better informed by publishing regular updates on the state of the organization.

Stand-Ups

Stand-up meetings (or stand-ups), are short meetings—typically no more than 15 minutes—with the purpose of keeping teams informed and unblocked. Stand-ups typically happen daily at the same time, and are supposed to be brief—deep discussions or follow ups are pushed to other meetings or asynchronous documentation options.*

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