The book Remote by Jason and David from 37 Signals (or Basecamp) makes a big case for remote work. A big portion of the book discusses the benefits of remote work and how to bring remote working teams into established companies.
Insights from Remote
If you are like me, a “modern entrepreneur”, and looking for tips on how to outsource work, then you’ll find this book summary useful:
Only Hire People That You Trust
- As Sir Richard Branson commented on working remotely: “To successfully work with other people, you have to trust each other. A big part of this is trusting people to get their work done wherever they are, without supervision.” So, only hire people that you trust.
Work in Overlapping Hours
- Its difficult to get work momentum when you and your remote team works on different hours. 37 Signals recommend to overlap the working day by at least a few hours each day.
Make Everyone Feel “In The Loop”
- In physical offices its easy to see what other people are working on cause you can interact face to face. To achieve a similar culture with remote teams, 37 Signals recommends to create a weekly discussion threat with the subject “What have you been working on?” This allows each member to share their progress (honestly) and see what others are working on (even though they might be half the globe away.)
How to work with clients remotely?
- When pitching to a new client, tell them right away that you don’t live where they live. Be open from the start.
- Provide references before the client even asks. Build trust by showing that you got nothing to hide.
- Show them work often, so the client always feels connected.
- Be very available by returning phone calls, emails and instant messages super fast.
- Get the client feel as part of the project by creating a space online where you can show schedules and work in progress.
Hire Those Who Can Write Well
- Because remote work involves a lot of emails and messages, clear written communication is a mandatory skill.
Give a Test Project
- To accurately judge work, hire a new candidate for a freelance project, that lasts 1 or 2 weeks. Give them a task that solves a real business problem (and not a strange puzzle).
Make Time for Regular One-on-one Checkins
- Every month or so, pick up a phone and chat with each team member one-on-one, in a casual manner, about what’s new. This allows you to stay on top of issues that otherwise may pile up. Plus it helps to boost morale.
Lookout for “Overwork” (Not “Underwork”)
- Overwork is a real enemy of successful remote working environment. So, encourage (and maybe pay for) hobbies, or give extra days off when the weather is nice.
Setup Security Rules
- All computers must use hard drive encryption, like the built-in File Vault feature in Apple’s OS X operating system. This ensures that a lost laptop is merely an inconvenience and an insurance
claim, not a company-wide emergency and a scramble to change passwords and worry about what documents might be leaked.
- Disable automatic login, require a password when waking from sleep, and set the computer to automatically lock after ten inactive minutes.
- Turn on encryption for all sites you visit, especially critical services like Gmail. Which means turn on SSL inside each account you use.
- Make sure all smartphones and tablets use lock codes and can be wiped remoty. On iPhone you can do this through the Find iPhone application. This rule is easily forgotten as we tend to think of these tools as something for the home, but inevitably you’ll check your work email or log into Basecamp using your tablet. A smartphone or tablet needs to be treated with as much respect as your laptop.
- Use a unique, generated, long-form password for each site you visit, kept by password managing software, such as 1Password. * We’re sorry to say, ‘ secretmonkey’ is not going to fool anyone. And even if you manage to remember UM6vDjwidQE9C28Z, it’s no good if it’s used on every site and one of them is hacked. (It happens all the time!)
- Turn on two-factor authentication when using Gmail, so you can’t without having access to your cell phone for a login code (this means that someone who gets hold of your login and password also needs to get hold of your phone to login). And keep in mind: if your email security fails, all other online services will fail too, since an intruder can use the “password reset” from any other site to have a new password sent to the email account they now have access to.