editione1.0.2Updated September 6, 2022
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.
When companies or managers say this, what they really mean is, “When people are in the office, I think I know when they’re working.” But presence doesn’t guarantee productivity, and it certainly doesn’t mean employees have clarity about what they should be working on. As we discuss in Key Channels and Tools for Remote Communication, the practices of clearly setting team goals and establishing more asynchronous channels of communication allow remote teams to thrive without constant managerial oversight.
cautionInstalling monitoring software will not help your company know for sure if people are working instead of slacking off. In fact, it will erode trust, which is the backbone of a healthy remote team.* A properly aligned remote team with clear goals and autonomy won’t require tracking. (See more in Managing Distributed Teams and Remote Company Culture.)
This is true in principle, but complicated and not always possible in practice. Hiring outside your home base, especially once you start hiring internationally, raises a whole host of legal, financial, and operational concerns that may constrain how aggressively you pursue this. Additionally, managing time zones turns out to be one of the more thorny problems that remote companies face, which may also impact how you choose to approach hiring from afar.