editione1.0.3Updated March 23, 2023
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.
In a healthy remote company, there is no “out of sight, out of mind.” Remote teams have to have high levels of trust, and individuals need to be able to work autonomously without constant oversight. But that doesn’t mean there’s no accountability. Most remote workers still have clear reporting structures, goals, meetings, and so on. (In fact, many companies unintentionally overcompensate for the lack of in-person interaction and end up having far too many video-call meetings.)
cautionRemote work makes it harder to communicate and collaborate with the rest of the team, with 20% of respondents of remote workers saying it’s their most important issue.* Whether or not your company addresses this problem with more meetings or more emphasis on asynchronous communication depends heavily on your company’s philosophy and communication practices. If fewer meetings are the default, be prepared to trade off that time for more writing and documentation. Although managers and supervisors have a part to play in cross-team communication and collaboration, it also requires individuals to take the initiative.
The negative corollary to the benefit of working from home and having more time and flexibility is that work and home are more entwined. Many remote workers report difficulty detaching and stopping work at the end of the day. When you work from home, it’s easy for work and personal time to blend together, and many remote workers report working longer than if they were in an office—up to 43% more.
cautionIt’s not as easy for remote employees to maintain strong social connections with work colleagues, which can cause feelings of isolation. Distribute Consulting notes that isolation isn’t necessarily about being physically isolated:
We find that remote work isolation is more informational than it is social. Meaning, workers don’t miss sitting next to someone; they miss having access to someone. They miss being able to spontaneously ask a colleague a question, or celebrate a small victory, or brainstorm a solution or a problem, or even just chatting about weekend plans. If remote workers are craving some daily physical interaction, that’s where social hobbies, coworking spaces, and dedicated relationships with friends and family can be utilized.