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.
Remote work advice is often based on individual or anecdotal experience, or presents the perspective of a single specific company. Much of this advice is also hyperbolic and lacks nuance around the complexities and challenges for both individuals and companies. We see a need for a consolidated and shared resource written by and for people involved in all aspects of remote work—including managers, founders, and employees; including HR, legal, and operational staff; and including those at beginner levels and the more experienced alike.
Every company and remote employee is unique, and this Guide is not perfect; but it aims nonetheless to be the most inclusive and practical resource available on the subject. Whether you’re a remote worker or anyone else involved with distributed teams, we want to supply you with both the principles and the tools to empower you to flourish in a remote environment.
dangerWhen thinking about remote work, both startups and larger companies often look to other, often famous, companies for inspiration. But you are (probably) not GitLab or Basecamp, and “just use the GitLab handbook” can be inappropriate advice. The approach to remote work that you want is not necessarily the same. Each company’s size, growth, philosophies, and financial outlook may be very different from those of other companies. And if you’re an employee, one company’s handbook or philosophy won’t necessarily help you succeed elsewhere. We can learn a lot from seemingly successful remote companies, but we shouldn’t blindly copy them.
Our approach to building this Guide has been to:
Draw knowledge from multiple experts. We are not replicating any one company’s practices or one person’s perspective. Our authors and editors have drawn on the input of dozens of experts and remote workers.
Start with first principles. Creating and maintaining successful remote teams requires gaining genuine understanding of many aspects of work and human interactions that many of us have largely taken for granted by going to work in offices together for decades. We start by considering the idea that remote work is not binary—teams are not purely remote or co-located—and that factors like distance, time, and physical presence all impact how we communicate, collaborate, and learn to trust each other. Examining these factors before you start planning new processes or pick the hottest new chat tool will significantly improve your odds of succeeding with remote work.
Give practical guidance on each aspect of remote work. We cover background knowledge and offer practical, in-depth advice for all the key areas of your company that remote work impacts (which is most areas). Our goal is to give you not only frameworks for thinking about how remote work changes your organization, but also specific, practical information that will help you avoid many pitfalls, some of which can be quite costly.
The people contributing to this guide have been involved in remote work for over a decade (in a few cases, for even longer!). We’ve been at large companies that let people work from home occasionally, to growing hybrid companies navigating the complex interactions of offices and remote employees, to all-remote startups that don’t have a formal HQ. We’ve seen how remote work can unblock hiring obstacles, save time and money, and provide employees with more satisfying, meaningful, healthy careers. We’ve also seen dysfunctions in nearly every domain, from treating remote work as a privilege for a select set of people, to isolated, burnt-out workers left to their own devices to dig themselves out (or choose to leave). We’ve had interesting and tough conversations, reviewed what’s been written before, and done our best to reconcile and present the most helpful expert advice and experience. And we believe that if done right, remote work has the potential to transform our relationship with work, while distributing opportunity that has long been constrained to a relatively geographically and socioeconomically elite group of workers.
The Holloway Reader you’re using now is designed to help you find and navigate the material you need. Use the search box. It will reveal definitions, section-by-section results, and content contained in the hundreds of resources we’ve linked to throughout the Guide. Think of it as a mini-library of the best content on the subject of remote work. We also provide mouseover (or short tap on mobile) for definitions of terms, related section suggestions, and external links while you read.
A reference like this cannot be perfect or complete. Please suggest improvements, add other helpful comments, or call out anything that needs revision. We welcome (and will gladly credit!) your help.
important Most of the contributors to this Guide have worked in the United States, in the Silicon Valley job market, and at growing, technology-focused companies of various sizes. The principles and high-level advice apply much more generally than these constraints, though culture, values, and the nature of remote teams may vary in different geographic areas and across the industry. If you have experience in other contexts, we’d love to hear from you.